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The Buffalo Bills' new head coach is a 42-year-old Missouri native who got to the NFL the hard way.

Gregg Williams didn't parlay a National Football League playing career into a spot on the NFL sidelines. He had to start as a high school coach.

In fact, he was turned down for the first head-coaching job he ever sought -- at his high school alma mater when he was 25.

Williams has had few rejections since. In the past 17 years, he advanced from high school to college to the NFL, where he worked for the past 11 years as an assistant coach for the Tennessee Titans and that team's predecessor, the Houston Oilers.

Williams will be introduced today as the 12th head coach in the history of the Bills franchise.

"What a great place to be," Williams said from his Nashville, Tenn., home Thursday. "The history of the Buffalo franchise and the great fans there is part of what made me want to go all-out for the job."

Williams helped the Titans get to the Super Bowl last year, and his defense ranked No. 1 in yards allowed in the NFL this season.

But he was considered an underdog for the job. Baltimore Ravens assistant Marvin Lewis was viewed as the "hottest" coaching candidate on the market, but Williams' outstanding interview with President and General Manager Tom Donahoe last Friday tipped the balance in his favor.

Williams is known as a detail-oriented, list-making, color-coding organizer extraordinaire.

Friends even call him "Melvin" in reference to Melvin Udall, the obsessive organizer played by Jack Nicholson in the film "As Good as It Gets."

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