Randal Williams: A Year Later

Almost a year has passed since an innocent comment by the mother of Cowboys receiver Randal Williams made him a national joke. And while he has forgiven mom, no one in the Cowboys locker room has forgotten what she said on HBO's Hard Knocks during training camp last year about raising Williams in the Bronx, N.Y.

Mom said: "I was nervous, I had fears of him being around women, maybe being gay, so I decided I would get him involved in every sport there was available."

But all anybody remembers is "being gay."

"I don't think I will ever live that down," Williams said. "I probably go two weeks without hearing anything then they will come back with it. It's good humor. I laughed with them."

While laughing on the on the outside, deep down Williams' goal in 2003 is give everybody something else to talk about by making a name for himself as a receiver.

Largely a special teams performer in his first two years, Williams appears to taking a step in the right direction.

Coach Bill Parcells has already singled him out as one of the more impressive performers during minicamp practices.

Owner Jerry Jones remains intrigued by Williams' outstanding size and athletic ability -- he is 6-feet-3, 220 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.04 seconds. Jones said he couldn't wait to see Williams in training camp.

"I am not surprised by his play," Jones said. "He has worked his tail off. He has a chance to be a good player."

No one is expecting Williams to challenge Antonio Bryant, Joey Galloway and Terry Glenn for one of the top three spots. However, the Cowboys could find a place for someone with his size, strength and speed if he continues to develop as a receiver.

According to Cowboys receivers coach John McNulty, the latter has been the question with Williams ever since he signed with Jaguars as a rookie free agent in 2001 after a limited college career at New Hampshire where he caught a total of 20 passes. McNulty, who came to the Cowboys this year from Jacksonville, said Williams has shown considerable improvement.

"He came out as raw as raw can be," McNulty said. "He has made it so far because he has smart and has a lot of physical skills. He works hard. He has gotten better. His hands are better. He just has to continue to improve."

Williams knows he still has a long way to go. He says he has improved his route running and short game but still has trouble with catching long ball.

But he believes he's better than he has ever been and credits it to hard work and a new attitude.

"I have just tried to relax a little more," Williams said. "I have really tensed up the past couple of years, focusing too much on trying to make a play. This year I am just trying to relax."

He's also trying to get the last laugh.

"I want to make a name for myself based on the plays I am making on the field rather than what somebody saw on television," Williams said. "If it wasn't that. It was the 4.04. You never heard much about what I did on the field. This year, I would like to let my play speak for itself rather than that other stuff."

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