Kevin Williams has 'pretty much seen it all' at Lambeau Field

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 1, 2012 - 10:43 PM

In 10 trips to Lambeau Field (make it 11 after Sunday), the Vikings' Kevin Williams has "pretty much seen it all."

Kevin Williams is kind of like the family pet. One minute, he's the young pup romping around Lambeau Field as a starter in his first NFL game. The next minute, he's the steady graybeard teaching the new batch of puppies how good it feels to soil that sacred tundra at 1265 Lombardi Avenue in Green Bay.

"I've pretty much seen it all up there in Green Bay," said Williams, the only member of the 2012 Vikings who was with the team before 2004. "These young guys will find out. It doesn't take long before you develop some type of discomfort toward the Packers."

If Williams hasn't seen it all, he is coming close as he gets set for his team-high 11th game at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

While going 4-6, he has played with and against both Good Brett and Bad Brett. He has lost a regular-season game 34-0, but he has also won a playoff game 31-17.

He has been there for Brett Favre's return and Aaron Rodgers' starting debut. Unfortunately, he has also been there for Tarvaris Jackson's starting debut.

He has seen Randy Moss pretend to moon the Cheeseheads. He has lost on Ryan Longwell's 33-yard field goal as time expired, but he has also won on Paul Edinger's 27-yard field goal as time expired.

"Something strange usually always happens up there," Williams said. "Something that you'll remember for a long time."

Here's a closer look at some of the highlights and lowlights through the 32-year-old eyes of the Vikings' five-time first-team All-Pro defensive tackle:

Sept. 7, 2003: Vikings 30, Packers 25

Favre threw four interceptions as the Vikings ruined the Packers' unveiling of renovated Lambeau Field. Williams, the ninth overall draft pick out of Oklahoma State, joined Carl Eller and Al Noga as the only rookie defensive ends to start a season opener. He started the first 12 games at left end before moving to tackle.

"I first walked out of the tunnel at Lambeau Field and ...," said Williams, looking as though finishing his thought might bring a lightning bolt from the football gods. "Truthfully, I was like, 'This is what all the fuss is about?' This stadium didn't look all that great in person at all. On TV, it looks amazing and just huge. But it seems like you're down in a hole with the fans right on top of you."

Nov. 14, 2004: Packers 34, Vikings 31

Remember Ben Steele as a Viking?

"I do," said Williams. "Barely."

Steele was on the Vikings practice squad in 2003 and 2004 before being released before the start of the regular season. He ended up as the Packers' third-string tight end on this night.

With less than 90 seconds left in a tie game, he also ended up in the right place at the right time when Packers kick returner Robert Ferguson fumbled. Or at least that's what the officials say happened. The Vikings still argue otherwise.

Steele and Vikings cover man Derek Ross both staked claim to the ball. After a lengthy scrum in which it appeared that Ross had control first, Steele was awarded the ball.

"You never know what type of calls you're going to get when you go to Green Bay," Williams said. "There's always been some type of questionable calls that change the game entirely. You're never surprised by the calls in Green Bay."

Six years later, the Vikings lost 28-24 in what then-coach Brad Childress called "the worst-officiated game" he had ever seen. Of course, it didn't help the Vikings that Favre, playing for them at the time, threw three second-half interceptions.

But the Vikings did have three touchdowns overturned by review and Childress was fined $35,000 for revealing that the league had apologized to him for making a mistake in overturning a touchdown by Visanthe Shiancoe.

Jan. 9, 2005: Vikings 31, Packers 17

The football knowledge in Green Bay goes well beyond the West Coast offense and the Tampa 2 defense. These folks are so detailed, they know where and when the visiting team buses arrive from the hotel in Appleton.

"They generally don't throw things, but they give you the finger, they throw all kinds of slurs at you and they moon you," Williams said.

And we're not just talking about young, drunk males.

"It's the whole caboodle," Williams said. "They'll bend over, pull 'em down and pat their butts at you."

This particular game will be remembered forever as the day Moss pretended to moon the crowd following a 34-yard touchdown reception.

Some people, including Fox television announcer Joe Buck, were aghast. The league ended up fining Moss $10,000.

"People went overboard," Williams said. "All Randy did was act like he pulled his pants down. You didn't see any skin. I guess the gesture was too much for the NFL to handle. But anybody who's been on a team bus heading into Lambeau would think it was funny. I did."

Nov. 21, 2005: Vikings 20, Packers 17

Mike Tice's last game at Lambeau Field as Vikings head coach was a last-second win that left him with a 3-2 mark in Green Bay. And the two losses were by a combined seven points.

Tice's successors -- Childress and Leslie Frazier -- are a combined 1-5 at Lambeau.

"You got to look at the guys we had to deal with when Tice was here," Williams said. "He did a good job with the character guys we had. It was all about offense at the time. Those guys were pretty much the Vikings. We threw the ball great, but Tice also made sure we ran it, too.

"There was something he was doing right. He didn't get the credit when he was here."

Nov. 11, 2007: Packers 34, Vikings 0

Besides being the worst Vikings loss ever at Lambeau, this also was the game in which Vikings defensive back Dwight Smith was caught on camera laughing hysterically while jumping around on the sideline with the Vikings losing 34-0.

Vikings fans were livid.

"That became a big deal, but I wasn't mad at him," Williams said. "Fans have to understand we all love to play football. But you can't make it so serious that you can't have fun. Nobody likes to lose. I'm pretty sure Dwight wasn't laughing because we were down 34-0. If you know Dwight, he likes to have fun."

Sept. 8, 2008: Packers 24, Vikings 19

In his starting debut, Rodgers completed 81.8 percent of his passes with no turnovers.

"Aaron and Brett are both tough tasks," Williams said. "When I came into the league, I really didn't like playing Favre. But I kind of feel the same way about Rodgers now.

"But if both were in their prime and I had to choose to play one, I'd probably rather face Aaron. Brett, he's a tough competitor. You saw when he was here. The spirit he brings, it just shines all over the team."

Nov. 1, 2009: Vikings 38, Packers 26

Favre's return to Lambeau Field came four weeks after he beat them at the Metrodome.

"Being in that stadium that night, it was like walking on air," Williams said. "Aaron gave it his best shot and old Brett gave it his best shot and threw four touchdowns. One of the rowdiest games I ever played in next to Brett's first game against the Packers at the Metrodome."

Dec. 2, 2012: ???

"How much longer do I want to play?" Williams said. "I've been playing 10 years. That's been great. I think anything over 12 years is a blessing, so I think a couple more years will probably be good enough for me, as long as I can be effective and play at a high level, which I feel I'm still doing that."

Williams' contract runs through the 2014 season. So he's not looking at this as his last go-round in Lambeau, even though his 151 career starts rank second in team history among defensive tackles behind only Hall of Famer Alan Page (157).

"I ain't too gray yet," he said. "But I think in dog years, I have been around a long time."

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