Kevin Williams reflecting on 11 seasons with Vikes
Kevin Williams has never been incredibly loquacious in public.
He has always preferred to use that syrupy Arkansas drawl to talk
about the game and not much else, batting away attention like he
brushes aside a center on his way to the quarterback.
As his 11th, and possibly last, season with the Minnesota
Vikings enters the final quarter, Williams’ tune is starting to
change. The big defensive tackle is a little more reflective,
sentimental even, given the very real possibility that his days
with the only NFL franchise he’s ever known are numbered.
Williams is in the final year of his contract. And with
first-round draft choice Sharrif Floyd waiting in the wings and
Williams’ 34th birthday coming during training camp next August,
the Vikings might have to move on.
”You have to soak up all the moments you can,” said Williams,
who was voted the recipient of the Ed Block Courage award by his
teammates this week. ”The wins, enjoy the playoff runs, embrace
all the people you meet and the friends you make because one day
it’s going to eventually be done. Right now we’re just trying to
play ball, enjoy the group I’m with and we’ll see where we go at
the end of the year.”
The big fella can still bring it, even if he’s not as
consistently overpowering as he once was. He had seven tackles and
2 1/2 sacks against the Washington Redskins on Nov. 7 and was a
disruptive force against big-time rookie running back Eddie Lacy in
a tie with the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago.
He’s been so many things for so long:
-A versatile beast on the line: He’s played defensive end, under
tackle and nose tackle. Made six Pro Bowls and five All-Pro
”It’s been a blessing and an honor for me to be able to play
with him,” Adrian Peterson said. ”Just an incredible talent and a
great person. On the field, he’s been doing it for so long and
dominating. … You don’t really find that that often, especially
on the defensive front. He stands with an elite group.”
-A pillar in the locker room: Williams is soft-spoken, but
commands the respect of his teammates like few others do.
”Doesn’t say a whole lot, but when he does, players listen,”
coach Leslie Fraizer said. ”They respect Kevin a lot. To have one
of your best players being a role model in the locker room, off the
field, at practice, that’s what you want from a coaching
standpoint. He’s ideal when you talk about great players that are a
model of what you want your team to be.”
-An interpreter for new faces: When defensive end Jared Allen
arrived in a trade in 2008, Williams helped him as he struggled to
understand the mumbling of fellow tackle Pat Williams.
”He was actually my translator to understand what Pat was
saying,” Allen said. ”It took me about a year to understand what
Pat was saying. Now I speak fluent Pat Williams.”
-A model for toughness and consistency: He’s only missed three
games to injury despite playing one of the most demanding positions
in the game.
”He’s just a perfect example of what it is to be a
professional,” linebacker Chad Greenway said.
All the testimonials pouring in have taken on a reverential
tone, as everyone seems to understand that unless he takes a big
pay cut, No. 93 won’t be around next season. It’s been a difficult
line for him to walk, trying to enjoy his increasingly short time
here while also focusing on helping the Vikings (3-8-1) not lose
focus in a difficult season.
”You definitely appreciate it. I mean, coming in as a rookie
you’re bright eyed and bushy tailed and you never know what to
expect,” he said. ”It takes three or four years for you to
actually realize this is a billion dollar business. Each team does
everything it can to win. It’s nothing personal but it’s all
When his thoughts turned to his mates – Allen in particular – on
the defensive line, Williams showed a rare vulnerability.
”You’re going to make me get sentimental up here,” he said.
”It’s been a tremendous honor to have him come in and join forces
with me and Pat at the time and now it’s me and him and Brian
Robison and Letroy and Fred. We’re a close group of guys.”
The feeling is clearly mutual.
”I can’t cross that bridge now,” Allen said when asked if this
is his last year with Williams. ”There’s no sense thinking about
it now. I don’t know where his life is going to go, and he doesn’t
know where mine (is going). We’ve got four more weeks together,
that’s for sure. Unless the world ends tomorrow.”
NOTES: Frazier said QB Christian Ponder still has not passed the
necessary tests to clear him from his concussion, ensuring that
Josh Freeman will be the backup to starter Matt Cassel against the
Ravens on Sunday. … S Harrison Smith, who is on injured reserve
with a designation to return because of a toe injury, has practiced
this week. Frazier said Smith looks good and could return against
the Eagles next week.