As the Seahawks go for two straight titles, this time they do it with Kevin Williams in the mix at defensive tackle. From the time Williams arrived with the Vikings – a part of the draft-day gaffe that saw the clock expire and two teams jump in front of them in 2003 – he was a fan favorite and an anchor in the middle of the Vikings defensive front.
However, when it came time to make the business decisions that define a franchise, the Vikings opted to allow Williams and defensive end Jared Allen to leave. Allen signed a lucrative contract to join an aging Chicago defense. Williams didn’t find a big market waiting for him. He ended up signing a one-year, $2.1 million contract to join Seattle – a deal that, like the one signed a couple of years earlier by Antoine Winfield, had no guarantee of a roster spot.
Williams accepted his role as a part-time player – he was on the field for less than 45 percent of the team’s defensive snaps – with the hope of getting the chance for the ring that has eluded him throughout his NFL career. With their come-fromt-behind win Sunday against Green Bay, Williams is finally getting that opportunity.
His best opportunity prior to this season came in 2009 when the Vikings lost to the Saints in overtime five years ago. Sunday’s game seemed to give a déjà vu type of vibe, but, just as their comeback was improbable, the Seahawks’ first drive in overtime went against the odds as Seattle defended its NFC championship with a second straight trip to the big dance.
For years, Williams was one of the soft-spoken faces of the Vikings defense. He wasn’t the most gregarious player. He didn’t call the attention of the spotlight to himself. Instead, he let his play do the talking for him. That play has been rewarded with a shot to win the ring that to date has been out of his reach.
With all the hype surrounding the Legion of Boom and Seattle’s second straight trip the Big Dance, Williams will likely be a secondary storyline – if a storyline at all – in the days leading up to the big game.
But for those who were fans of Big Kev for the decade-plus he spent as a member of the Vikings, there will be something of a rooting interest to see Seattle repeat as champs. Williams was one of the players it was easy for fans to like. He is a player who loves the game but isn’t a trash-talker or an ego-driven player who demanded the spotlight to himself. Those are the kind of players that fans pull for to win a title before they retire.
For most players, that dream is either a dream deferred or a dream denied. Williams is just one game away from making his dream a reality and, if Seattle does pull down a win against the Patriots Sunday, there will be reasons for Vikings fans to have a little joy about the outcome because few players deserve a ring more than Williams.