Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Kevin Williams, 34, was with the Vikings 11 years and was a five-time first-team All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowler. This year, after signing as a free agent, he played a role in getting the Seahawks to the Super Bowl against New England on Sunday. Still, the former Oklahoma State star has made it clear that when he retires, he would like to do so as a Viking.
This will be Williams’ first Super Bowl, and he talked at Super Bowl Media Day on Tuesday about what he learned from nearly making the big game with the Vikings following the 2009 season.
“The biggest thing is don’t blink,” he said. “In Minnesota, I felt we controlled that [NFC Championship Game against New Orleans] the whole way and then we get into overtime and lose it. It was just the polar opposite of last week [when the Seahawks rallied to defeat the Packers 28-22 in overtime after trailing 16-0].”
Williams said one of the big differences between the Seahawks and that Vikings squad is the ages of their best players.
“We were much older in Minnesota, and we knew it was a small window to come together and try to win,” Williams said. “We were able to get where we were trying to go, but we just fell one game short. I think, with these guys here, it is a lot of three-year, four-year, five-year guys that are hungry to prove themselves and that are just coming into the prime of their careers. You can tell those guys are playing hard and hungry.”
Williams played more sparingly this season with the Seahawks, recording 30 tackles and three sacks in 16 games, but he has had to play a lot more snaps at nose tackle after starter Brandon Mebane tore a hamstring in early November.
He was asked if this Seattle defensive line is the best he’s played with, but Williams didn’t shortchange his former Vikings teammates.
“I think this defense, top to bottom, you don’t have a weak spot,” he said. “I have been with some great guys though; Pat [Williams], Jared [Allen], Ray Edwards, Kenechi Udeze, and I could go on with names of guys I played with in Minnesota.
“But this is a fun group I play with here in Seattle. Mike [Michael Bennett] is outstanding. Mebane, to step in and have to play his role, that was tough to do, the way he plays. He has been excellent for me, helping me transition to play nose. I don’t know, top to bottom, the whole group I think is a good group. It is top three in the groups of guys I have played with.”
Williams reached the playoffs four times with the Vikings, but never made it to the Super Bowl until now. How important was it to finally reach the biggest game in sports?
“This is huge, to come here at this point in my career, that is something I was really focused on,” Williams said. “Having a chance to make the playoffs and to come here and get that done, and have a chance to be here at the Super Bowl, that is huge. It is a huge accomplishment for our team.”
Williams was asked if a Super Bowl victory would lead to his retirement.
“I think it has a good chance,” he said. “I think you have seen a lot of great players go out and win the Super Bowl and then retire. If we can win the Super Bowl, it will probably play into the offseason, but I just want to win and focus on that right now.”
Williams signed a one-year, $2.1 million deal with the Seahawks, but he wouldn’t rule out playing another year.
“I don’t know. I mean, if somebody wants my services bad enough, I can see playing some more,” he said.
Look for the Seahawks to try to re-sign him, because the Seattle coaches have said they thought Williams had a good year.
• Former Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has a chance to win a second Super Bowl as a backup to Seahawks starter Russell Wilson. Jackson attempted only one pass this season, but he is also a captain and represents the team at every coin toss. “I always dreamed about winning a Super Bowl, and always wanted to get that one, at least that one,” Jackson told the Montgomery Advertiser this week. “So to have a chance at a second is great. But I also don’t want to get ahead of myself.”
• The Gophers will have four players who were not on the roster last year working in the weight room this spring, led by former Washburn all-state running back Jeff Jones. The others are Charlie “Ace” Rogers, a safety from Iowa Western Community College, who could start along with Jones; brothers Julian Huff, a linebacker, and Jacob Huff, a defensive back, from Bolingbrook High School in suburban Chicago; and Tyler Moore, an offensive lineman from North Shore High School in suburban Houston. Also back will be one of the Gophers’ best linebackers until he tore his right ACL last year, Cody Poock from Iowa Western, who likely will start. … One player the Gophers are highly recruiting is Carter Coughlin, the Eden Prairie linebacker who Rivals.com has ranked second in the state for the Class of 2016. Coughlin’s father, Bob, played for the Gophers as a defensive tackle from 1989-1990, and his grandfather, Tom Moe, lettered in football and baseball for the Gophers and was one of the best all-around athletes ever developed at Edina High School.
• Max Musselman, the son of former Gophers and Timberwolves coach Bill, is a sophomore guard on the Minnetonka varsity basketball team.
• General Manager Terry Ryan was asked what minor league players have the best chance of joining the Twins, and he said pitcher Alex Meyer should come into spring training ready to make the club. “He’s spent a year at Triple-A [going 7-7 with a 3.52 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 130⅓ innings last season], he’s been around the minor leagues long enough,” Ryan said. “He’s 25, and he has the kind of stuff that can help us up here. It’s just a matter of maturity and commanding that strike zone. He would be the guy that I would hope would do it, because his talent is above most of the people we have. We have other guys. [Catcher Josmil] Pinto [who hit .219 with seven home runs in 52 games with the Twins last year] is a guy that has a chance. With his type of power, you’d like to see him emerge as something.”
• Catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who turned down a chance to be with the Twins last year, spent time last season with the Red Sox and Cardinals and signed as a free agent with the Braves for 2015.
• Former Timberwolves power forward Kevin Garnett should become the NBA’s career defensive rebound leader this season. Garnett sits at 11,264 defensive rebounds and trails Karl Malone by 142 boards. There’s a chance Garnett, who is averaging 6.0 defensive rebounds (7.1 overall) per game this season for the Brooklyn Nets, could potentially break the record when he plays in Minnesota on March 16.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40, 8:40 and 9:20 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org