In his own words, Pat Williams was “just trying to fade away.” His last game as an immovable defensive tackle came in 2010 at the end of a turbulent Vikings season. And then, after 14 years in the NFL and six in Minnesota, Williams’ final contract expired and he found no new team to sign with.
Just like that, he was out of football. Until Thursday.
In a ceremonial gesture, the Vikings signed Williams to a one-day contract but will release him Friday, allowing the 40-year-old former nose tackle to officially retire as a member of the team whose defensive line he anchored for so long.
The idea of the one-day contract, Williams said, was that of Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, who called him up last month.
Said Williams: “I was like, ‘What in the world’s Spielman calling me for?’ I had no idea. He called me out of the blue.”
Williams was appreciative of the call and signed his contract at Winter Park on Thursday.
His signing bonus: “I got a Viking pen when I signed.”
In a 10-minute chat before the draft Thursday evening, Williams quickly revisited his time with the Vikings. Asked for his best memory, he instead picked out the worst.
“When that dome crashed [in December 2010],” Williams said, recalling the snowstorm that tore a hole in the roof at Mall of America Field. “We didn’t know where we was playing. It was all over the board. That was the worst.”
And while Williams had no trouble declaring the 2009 season the high point of his career, that 31-28 overtime loss to New Orleans in the NFC Championship game still has its scars, especially with Williams, now back home in Louisiana and subject to too much discussion about that loss among Saints fans.
“[They argue] that the Saints had the better team,” Williams said. “And they really didn’t. If you knew football, they didn’t. We whipped their [butts] if you really knew football. We basically gave it to them, all those [darn] turnovers. I said if we didn’t turn the ball over, we would have blown your [butts] out.”
Williams’ playing days are over. But he hasn’t moved on from football. He just accepted a position as an assistant coach at a high school in Louisiana.
“All the kids down there love me,” Williams said. “It’ll keep me busy.”