Troy Williamson was chosen No. 7 overall in 2005 with the pick the Vikings got from Oakland in the trade for Randy Moss — forever linking the two wide receivers. While Moss was a legend, Williamson … well, he was not. He wound up catching just 79 passes in three seasons with the Vikings before being traded to Jacksonville. By 2010, he was out of the NFL. These days, Williamson lives in Georgia with his wife and four kids. He has several business ventures and is a motivational speaker. He chatted recently with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand:
Q With the benefit of hindsight, how much pressure was there on you as the replacement for Randy Moss?
A I always go back and say I don’t think it really was the pressure. I never really wanted to be the person to take over for Randy Moss because there’s still been nobody who has been able to do that. He’s one of a kind. I never wanted that kind of pressure on me, to be able to do that.
Q Do you ever wish you had been drafted by a different team — where maybe things would have worked out differently?
A No, I don’t think so. I always go with the hand I was dealt. I enjoyed Minnesota. There was a lot of stuff I probably could have done differently to make my career go differently. I always look back at things I could have done differently. Anywhere I would have went, it probably would have ended up turning out the way it turned out.
Q Were the fans in Minnesota pretty hard on you?
A One of the things I really feel that did me in was reading a lot of papers and magazines. I think that’s one thing that took a big toll on me. But back then I didn’t have Facebook or Twitter or stuff like that. I could never really get a read on the fans. But anybody coming into a situation like that — if it was me, and I was one of the fans and there was someone who came onto the team who was a disappointment and not playing up to the role they should have been, there would be some kind of animosity. I get that now with fantasy football. If someone doesn’t play up to expectations, I get mad. So I get where fans would have been coming from. They’re invested in a team and they had a right to be upset and mad at me for not playing up to par.
Q Your rookie year, 2005, was the Love Boat scandal. What was that like, going through all that as a rookie?
A It was mind-boggling because that was really the first time I saw how the NFL life is and some of the stuff that goes on. It was kind of blew my mind, some of the stuff that could actually happen in the position that we were in. It actually kind of put me on a path to stay away from some stuff like that because it will get you put in the spotlight that you don’t want to be in.
Q I understand you have done some motivational speaking. What kinds of messages are you delivering in those settings?
A I always talk about my story and overcoming adversity — and planning when things don’t work out. I talk about being young, making it from nothing and being able to accomplish things, and my situation in Minnesota. When things don’t work out the way you plan, you should have a Plan B and be able to work through situations.