Last week, the Buffalo Bills traded a 6th-round draft pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for Mike Williams. Normally, this would be a fairly uninteresting story, typical of the lull that occurs between the first rush of free agency and the draft, if not for one thing: the Bills now have seven players with the last name of Williams. Seriously, seven! Now, granted, Williams IS a fairly common name, but seven guys out of a 53-man roster is still a surprisingly large amount.
And it got me thinking; there have been thousands of players who have played in the NFL, and hundreds of them have been named Williams, so could we come up with an All-Williams roster? And would that team be any good? Well, after searching the archives, and evaluating each position, I believe I’ve found enough quality players to field a very competitive team consisting entirely of players with the surname of Williams. So, that in spirit, I present to you The All-Williams All-Stars!
Quarterbacks: This might surprise you, but only two Williamses have ever played quarterback in the NFL, so we’re a bit thin here. Luckily, one of them won a Super Bowl, which is why Doug Williams easily earns the position of starting QB. Unfortunately, the only guy around to back him up is Bob Williams, who played three seasons for the Chicago Bears in the 1950s, and posted a career QB rating of just 55.8. So, we get a pretty good starting QB, but we really need him to stay healthy.
Running backs: Thankfully, the running back position gives us a plethora of Williamses to choose from. The past 15 years alone have given us three viable options, in the form of DeAngelo Williams, Ricky Williams, and Cadillac Williams. To offset our relatively weak passing game, we go with a three-headed beast at the running back position. DeAngelo gets the most carries, but Ricky and Cadillac play prominent roles as well.
Wide receivers: This was a disappointingly thin position – not Williams played more than ten years at wide receiver. So, we’re going to have to make the best of what we have. Kevin Williams had a decent career from 1993-2000, playing for the Cowboys, Cardinals, Bills, and 49ers. His stats were never particularly flashy, but he was reliably good for 35-40 catches a year, and he was one of the better kick returners in the league. Reggie Williams only lasted five years with the Jaguars, but he did catch 10 touchdowns in 2007, during The Brief Period Of Time When David Garrard Was Really Good. Beyond that, we might have to add the Bills’ Mike Williams, who inspired this team to begin with. Injuries limited him to 22 catches last season, but he had 60 in each of the three years before that, and might be the most reliable pass-catcher here. We round things out with former Philadelphia Eagle Calvin Williams, who managed to thrive from 1993-1995, despite catching passes from the likes of Bubby Brister and Rodney Peete, and current Tennessee Titan Damian Williams, who caught 45 passes in 2011, and can’t be completely written off yet. This isn’t a mind-blowing receiving core, but we should be able to at least compete.
Tight End: Not a lot of true blue-chippers, but enough okay-ish guys to be at least decent at the tight end position. Our starter is former Ram and Raider Roland Williams, who didn’t catch a great deal of passes, but was a solid pass-blocker, and managed to start on two teams that reached the Super Bowl, and one champion (the 1999 Rams and the 2002 Raiders). Backing him up is former Saint Boo Williams who had four pretty decent seasons in the midst of the Aaron Brooks era, and former Oiler Jamie Williams, who somehow managed to last in the league for 12 years despite not doing all that much. As with the receivers, not our strongest position, but not a complete joke either.
Offensive Lineman: Without even having to think about it, we can comfortably name Trent Williams as the lynchpin of our O-line. One of the best tackles in the league already, and he’s just 25. The other starting tackle gig should obviously go to former Cowboys all-pro Erik Williams, who won three Super Bowls, and created countless holes for Emmitt Smith. One of our starting guard spots should go to Bobbie Williams, who hung around the league for 12 years without getting much recognition outside of Cincinnati – although he did retire as a champion with the 2012 Ravens. Former Giant Brian Williams gets the nod as our starting center – Williams was another largely unheralded grunt who managed to hang around the league for the better part of a decade. Rounding out the starting line is former Browns guard Wally Williams. For our reserves, we’re reluctantly giving a shot to former Bills bust Mike Wlliams(not the receiver), who struggled through four seasons in Buffalo, but faced a lot of pressure as a #4 overall pick who was expected the anchor the line. He could easily thrive as a reserve. Alongside him is former Oiler David Williams, who had a nine-year career with the Oilers and Jets, and current Ram Chris Williams, who had an encouraging 2013 season after washing out in Chicago. For our second-string center, we go with former Brown, Saint, and Patriot Larry Williams, and our final piece is Panthers reserve Garry Williams, who has spent five years in Carolina, and…umm…probably couldn’t hurt.
Defensive Lineman Another member of the current Buffalo 7 we can add to the list is Mario Williams, who has put together a solid 8-year career at this point, even if Bills fans are still half-mortified by how much money he’s getting. Right next to him is the reliably intimidating Jamal Williams, who was a two-time All-Pro with the Chargers, and at early 350 pounds, will be the most intimidating member of the All-Williams All-Stars by a fairly wide margin. We round our starters with two memorably frightening Vikings teammates, Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, who belong together more than any two players on this team. For the reserves, we look to Gerald Williams who started for the Steelers in the late 80s, just as the Chuck Noll er was rapping up. As in turns out, the seven Wiliamses appearing on the current Bills roster have a ton of talent, since Kyle Williams earns a position as a reserve here. Our last two spots go to Lee Williams, who made it two Pro Bowls with the Chargers in 1988 and 1989, and former Patriot Toby Williams, who hung around for six years, and got to be on that one Super Bowl team that got slaughtered by the bears. This might be the strongest part of team – we’re going to have an incredibly frightening defensive line that will get even scarier when you see who our coach is.
Linebackers: Former Bengal and Bronco Alfred Williams saw time at linebacker and defensive end throughout his career. Since our d-line is stacked already, we’ll be using in the former role, which he mostly played in Cincinnati. He’ll be joined by another Bengal in Reggie Williams, who somehow never played in a Pro Bowl despite 14 solid seasons. Unfortunately, beyond that, this is one of our weaker spots. There just haven’t been many Williamses who had sustained careers at linebacker. Eric Williams and Demorrio Williams were hardly spectacular players, but they earn spots just by virtue of hanging around longer than just about anybody else I could find. To round things out, we’re taking a shot here with Steelers rookie Vince Williams who wound up starting 11 games in his first season despite being a 6th round pick. Who knows, maybe he’ll keep surprising us. Wait, that’s only five? Okay, we’ll add Leon Williams, who played five years for the Browns, Cowboys, and Chiefs before retiring in 2012. He was never that good, but hopefully, we’re stacked enough at other positions that our lack of depth at linebacker won’t kill us.
Secondary: After all this time, we get our first Hall-Of-Famer! That’s right, Aeneas Williams, the man who went to the playoffs with the Jake Plummer, Cardinals is easily our best defensive back, and quite possibly our best overall player. Unfortunately, no other player in the Williams pool is close to his level, but we have some decent options nonetheless. Former Cowboy Roy Williams gets an obvious nod here, even if his career didn’t last quite as long as we might have hoped. Meanwhile, current Packer Tramon Williams has a Pro Bowl to his name, and is one of the better parts of the Packers shaky defense. We’re taking a slight risk and add another current Bill, Aaron Williams, because he was great in his first year at safety, and most people have forgotten how bad he was as a cornerback. Amusingly, there are two former Willie Williamses who have played cornerback in the NFL, one for the Giants in the 70s, the other for the Steelers in the 90s. Both had solid careers, and just for the sheer fun of it, they both earn spots here. Rounding things out, we go with 1970s Charger Mike Williams, and 1970s Giant Perry Williams, neither one of whom I had heard of before I started writing this, and I suspect you hadn’t heard of them either. The point is, we have a secondary we can live with.
Special Teams: Well, here’s a disappointing fact: not one kicker with the surname of Williams has played in the NFL. We do have one punter, however, Rodney Williams, who lasted exactly one season in the NFL, 20o1, which he played with the Giants. Well, he’ll have to handle both punting and kicking duties, making this by far our worst position. It’s worth noting – and I have no idea how I remember this – but when my Mom worked at Eckerd Drugs in the early 2000s, Rodney Williams came in – his Giants were playing the Bills in a preseason game – and apparently, was really nice, and gave my mom an autograph which is probably around the house somewhere.
Coach: Sorry, but we’re stuck with Gregg Williams. His stint with the Bills suggests he has no business being an NFL coach, but our hands our tied here. Let’s hope he’ll avoid the temptation of another bounty program with his rather ferocious cast of defenders.
Ultimate Conclusion: Yes, you can totally make a competitive team consisting of current and former NFL players named Williams. Assuming we had some magic device that would give us all of these players at their optimal level (and why wouldn’t we), this would immediately become one of the best teams in the NFL. We have a weak linebacking core, and a very weak special teams, but we make up for it with a three-headed monster at running back, and the scariest defensive line in the league. Who wouldn’t want to watch this team? Oh, if we’re not quite at 53, it’s because I want to sign Billy Dee Williams. To multiple contracts.