OUInsider.com recently caught up with Sooner great Roy Williams, who just finished a spectacular rookie season with the Dallas Cowboys. Williams talks about his rookie season with the Cowboys, the past season for the Sooners, pro and college football and about the new coach in Big D.
JH: Roy...congratulations on your great rookie year.
RW: James, you are always so kind to me and thank you. I don't know if it was so great because I know there were a lot of things I could have done better. I guess I did make quite a few plays at the end of the year, but I didn't do enough for us to win ballgames. We lost a lot more game than we should have and we lost some of those games during the last moments of the game.
JH: Have you met Bill Parcells yet?
RW: "Yes I have, and he is a very good guy."
JH: You would know how to react to a coaching change wouldn't you say?
RW: "You know that I know it is about time to change. You can always feel those things in the air."
JH: What was your first year in the NFL like?
RW: "It was cool, but once I figured out what my role was and how I was supposed to play, I perfected what I had to do."
JH: You said it was a slow start, but by many media accounts you didn't have any trouble adapting to the pros?
RW: "I adjusted to the speed of the game and everything, but it was just me mentally that was slow coming around. I knew that was a problem early. It was me with the playbook, being comfortable and not second guessing myself."
JH: Your athletic ability is awesome, but your instincts for the game are even more incredible. How much have those instincts helped you adapt to the pro game?
RW: "They helped me out a lot truthfully, starting ever since the first time we played Philadelphia."
JH: Sometimes you just have to rely on those instincts don't you in football?
RW: "Yes, I would say that."
JH: How much did it help that that All-Pro Darren Woodson was in the secondary with you, at least in the beginning, before he was lost to a knee injury?
RW: "Darren is like my second dad back there. He just took me under his wing when I first got there and he helped me a lot when he was on the field. Once he got hurt he told me that I had to carry the torch. That meant a lot to me because Darren Woodson has been to seven or eight pro bowls already. He is a phenomenal player, you know what I mean? He will carry the torch as long as he is playing for the Cowboys. I can carry it once he is gone."
JH: What is his prognosis for next year?
RW: "He will be back in the off season."
JH: I think you two were the best safety tandem in the league and for Coach Parcells, a good safety play has always been a staple of his defense, don't you agree?
RW: "Oh yeah, I would say that. Woodson is a heck of a player. In fact, when I drive back to Dallas I am going over to his house to eat with him and his family."
JH: "Were you surprised that Dave Campo was fired?
RW: "I think I saw it coming. It was the same vibes when (John) Blake got fired. I was ready for it and I was prepared. I mean, I was sad the day he was fired, but it was the same old situation as it was with Blake. Sometimes it can't be changed and you just have to accept things."
JH: Players don't always read the papers or listen to the radio, but athletes can read the vibes, the body language of coaches and know what is going on behind the scenes can't they?
RW: "It is also a total giveaway when the media asks about a million questions concerning the coach as well. I mean, why would they be asking me something about it I knew if something wasn't up?
JH: I saw you at the Rose Bowl and it is still very evident that you still love your Sooners, right?
RW: "I love those guys, even with the new class and some of the new faces around. I am always going to be a Sooner. What is the slogan, ‘When I am born I am Sooner born and when I die I am Sooner dead.' That explains me perfectly."
JH: What did you think of the Sooners' win in the Rose Bowl?
RW: "Man I was mad. I was like damn, if I had stayed one more year we wouldn't be here. We would have been in Tempe right now, but I wanted to get out on the field anyway. Every time I step on the field with the Sooners I always want to cross that line and go out there and fight to give the fans a little show."
JH: Do you know how many fans either called into my radio show and asked on OUInsider.com - if I thought that OU would've lost to either Texas A&M or OSU this year if Roy Williams had stayed one more year? Did you every think back and say to yourself that you wish you had stayed at OU?
RW: "I wasn't too busy I will tell you that, because Dat Nguyen talked about his Aggies beating my Sooners. We have equipment managers from Oklahoma State and they rubbed it in my face and that pissed me off. That pissed me off, oh my God, but that is life. Life is full of decisions and I made one and I do not regret my decision. However, I am a Sooner and sometimes I wish I could have played for both.
JH: Is playing in the secondary in pro football the most difficult place to play? And for that matter, playing in college is the secondary the most difficult place to play?
RW: "At OU we had some young safety errors that really hurt us. Eric (Bassey) bit up on a couple of play actions which he wasn't supposed to and that just killed us. I just hate seeing us getting beat by deep balls in the secondary. I mean, that can't happen and you have to do anything you can to make sure that it doesn't happen. If you are the safety that is a no-no. I talked to Eric about it, but it just isn't Eric it is some corners to, who didn't sink back far enough in our cover 2. There are a lot of factors why we gave up the deep ball in those games, but we went to the Rose Bowl and beat Washington State.
JH: Don't you have to be more physical with wide receivers in your league?
RW: "You have to be physical because you have to let your presence be felt and known that you are there. You have to make the wide receiver feel that you are going to be there every time that he catches the ball in your area and that he is going to be hit and that is what I try to do."
JH: It looks like the NFL is trying to take aggressive play in the secondary out of the game with their fines on certain hits. You were even fined once or twice, so is this a good thing for the game?
RW: "They are taking away from the aggressiveness of the game. The one flagrant foul they called on Woodson was a whacked call and they shouldn't have come close to making that call. The one that was called on me I never heard the whistle blow and that is my nature. If I don't hear the whistle blow I am going to keep playing. I am going to get you on the ground. I mean, (Az-Zahir) Hakeem I slammed, but oh well, damn, that is football. I mean toughen up, grow some nuts or something. Do you know what I am saying?"
JH: It doesn't look to me like the league can distinguish between what is a legal hit and what is not. How are the players really going to know how to play?
RW: "They said that you can't lean in with your head. The receiver also has to have both feet on the ground, or he can't be in a vulnerable spot like one foot on the ground and leaning with your head. What I got from it was that if a wide receiver catches the ball he has to have two feet on the ground before you can hit him."
JH: Doesn't that mean that you have to let him catch every ball before you make contact with him?
RW: "It is like a 50 percent chance that it will get called or it won't. I don't care if I get fined or not."
JH: Where is the major problem? If you don't play your game and give up a touchdown then you will be the one that gets benched or end up out of the job, right?
RW: "Damn skippy!"
JH: The way that football is going to, teams now in both the college and pro game have to have extra defensive backs to make sure they can cover all the passing formations being throw there way.
RW: "If you have a good cover corner that can lock up a receiver you really don't have to worry about that side of the field, like Deion Sanders did for so many years. I watching film of Deion when I first signed with the Cowboys and one side of the field was his and that is all he had to worry about. The rest of the secondary was playing cover 2 or cover 3 and that was a big help."
JH: Has pro football been everything that you thought it would be?
RW: "I thought it was overrated. I mean, the feeling to me was overrated. It isn't that hard when you apply yourself and you are passionate about doing something, it then comes easy. The experience of the NFL is overrated. I mean, it is hard, but I mean I really thought it was going to be hard, just flat out tough as hell for my first year, which it wasn't. Maybe it might change now that we have Parcells."
JH: Do you have to adjust to the new coach or do you still have to be Roy Williams?
RW: "I have to be Roy Williams and just be me"
JH: So it doesn't matter to you what Parcells brings to the table in Dallas?
RW: "I am happy what he brings to the table. I adapt pretty well to any situation. I know that Parcells has his own way of doing things and I don't care as long as we win. I don't care what I have to do as long as we win. When Stoops and them came in we had to workout ten times harder with (Jerry) Schmidt. I was willing to do it because I wanted to win."
JH: Do you see the basic ingredients there for the Cowboys to win over the next several years?
RW: "I do, I really do. I feel the future is good for us."
JH: What will that momentum from winning the Rose Bowl do for the future of the Sooner program?
RW: "You know what, Quentin was a very talented athlete and I have great respect for him, but what did he have six yards to beat Billy Sims' record? I know Coach Wilson walked up to him on the sideline and told ‘Q' that he had six yards to beat Billy Sims and ‘Q' was like no that is OK coach, because my shoulder is a little sore. I don't mind that Billy has the record. I was like, damn that is phenomenal. Now me, I am getting the record, I don't care you record it was, I am getting the record. ‘Q' touched me right there and I just think that was amazing what he did."
JH: Can ‘Q' play in the NFL?
RW: "He can and all he has to have happen for him is people to give him a chance to. People said Clinton Portis was too small and he may be the best running back in the league."
JH: Can't ‘Q' be an every down running back?
RW: "Yeah, teams are not going to run him downhill, they have pick there spots."
JH: Can you convince Parcell's to draft Andre Woolfolk?
RW: "We will work on that because it would be nice to have 'Dre' there in the secondary with me. Two Sooners in the Dallas secondary? Wouldn't that be something?"
A final note. Roy Williams has not forgotten how he grew as a person and player under the Stoops coaching. Devastated by the dismissal of John Blake who recruited him out of
Maybe the biggest change was the conditioning required by the new regime. There were no excuses here either. To get better required discipline and work, and a lot of it. Slowly, even the painful workouts under Jerry Schmidt began to make sense. They payoff came as Williams and his teammates toiled in early morning weight sessions during the season , and under the torrid sun in the summers. Williams and his Sooner teammates reluctantly became believers, then in 2000, national champions.
A month ago, with the indoor practice facility almost completed, there was one area left unfinished. The facilities' additional weight training section, needed to avert overcrowding at the
An envelope arrived with a check for $ 100,000.00 It would purchase equipment and put the finishing touches on the state of the art room. It was signed by Roy Williams.
Note: The weight training room at the new Indoor Facility will be named after "Roy Lee Williams, class of 2001."