Kevin Williams left lasting impressions on many current Vikings players, and at least one opponent, through his 11 seasons in Minnesota.
Linebacker Chad Greenway, entering his own 11th and final season with the Vikings, recalled how the joke-cracking giant would ease grueling training camp days. Defensive end Brian Robison takes with him one Williams’ adage: “As soon as you come into the league, the time starts ticking for you to be on your way out.
“Some just last longer than others.”
Not many have or will last longer than Williams, who stated a Hall of Fame case through longevity and consistency. After 13 NFL seasons, he officially retired a Viking this week by signing a one-day, ceremonial deal on Wednesday.
An unsuspecting San Francisco 49ers lineman once took a hard lesson from a guy he thought was “old,” four years before Williams would choose to walk away.
“True story with Kevin Williams,” guard Alex Boone said Thursday upon reporting to Mankato for training camp. “First year starting [in 2012], we’re going into the Metrodome. Thank God we got a new stadium, because the Metrodome was terrible. We go out there and the game was at like 10 o’clock our time. I remember thinking the whole week ‘Who’s Kevin Williams and what the hell could he do to me?’ I’m like ‘I’m young, he’s old. I’m good looking, he’s not. I’ve got this sewn up.’ First time ever I thought I had it, and he [schooled] me.”
Behind a strong defensive effort, the Vikings won 24-13 as Williams finished with two tackles and a pass deflection. Greenway led all defenders with 13 combined tackles and two sacks. Four years later, Greenway credits Williams for his own growth both on and off the field.
“Just a great teammate, couldn’t be a better guy,” Greenway said. “Thinking back on past teams, he’s one of the guys that you certainly miss day to day, because he had the personality to get you through some rough days at training camp. I just think when they had Pat [Williams], Kevin and Jared [Allen], it was just a fun group to play behind for me.
“[Playing] behind Kevin at three-technique gave me every advantage at my position. In a lot of ways, helped shape my career in so many ways and learned a lot from him on how to be a pro.”
Williams played 177 games, missing only three to injury in Minnesota, after the Vikings drafted him ninth overall in 2003.