Gone But Not Forgotten

Troy Williamson returned to the Vikings physically this week. Emotionally, he's still in South Carolina, where he buried his grandmother. The Vikings' decision to take away a paycheck from Williamson is technically allowable. But from the human perspective, how many shots to the heart are too many?


I have never been a Troy Williamson apologist. In fact, when the Vikings took Williamson with the pick they got from the Raiders for Randy Moss, I was on record as being against it. I have also been on record as saying that nobody should wear No. 84 – the number Randy Moss wore with the Vikings before being traded in the deal that resulted in Williamson becoming a Viking in the first place.

My viewpoint was that any player taken with the No. 7 pick should be anything but a wide receiver. Why? Because nobody could live up to what Moss meant to Vikings fans. That, combined with the fact that I didn't think any wide receiver at that spot with Braylon Edwards off the board was worthy of being selected with a lottery pick, was why I espoused taking a linebacker. Under the Tice Administration, two names jumped out – Shawne Merriman and DeMarcus Ware. The Vikings passed. They took Williamson. He hasn't lived up to expectations.

I should preface the rest of this by saying that I'm an orphan. My children have two grandparents that are still alive. By my assessment, they're the worst two they could have. The best two are buried. My mother died a week before Korey Stringer. When Moss, asked by the franchise to be a team leader after Big K passed, attempted to speak to the media, he broke down. So did I. I knew where he was coming from. My father died less than a week before the 2003 draft. I showed up for work, but walked into the Vikings "war room" without knowing it. I was there physically, but not mentally. It wasn't until I was bum-rushed by two or three Vikings personnel that I realized that I was somewhere I shouldn't be.

In that eye-opening moment, I realized that, regardless of my pain, life goes on for everyone else. I apologized for treading where I shouldn't. But, in hindsight, I pondered what would any of those people do in my situation? How long is too long to grieve?

When Williamson spoke to the media Wednesday and said, in essence, that his body was in Minnesota but his heart and his soul was still back in South Carolina, I could feel his pain. My parents have been gone for years now, but a day doesn't go by that I don't miss them and feel how much that not having them in the lives of my kids has affected me. Mom has been gone for more than five years. Dad has been gone for four. I miss them every day. I'm changed.

Williamson articulated to those of us in the media what he was feeling about the loss of his grandmother, who, by his own admission, was the person who taught to do such varied things as learn to cook and play cards. In his eyes, if she had lived to be 100, she would have died too soon.

The Vikings made a business decision to dock Williamson a paycheck for not showing up to work. They had the right to do it. Hopefully those that made that call have never been in the position Troy found himself in. Grief is something that everyone deals with differently. Fortunately for me, I had an employer that understood the level of my loss and served as my one set of footprints in the sand when I needed it. Williamson came back – clearly against the deep-rooted feelings that compelled him to stay at home for a week. His reward? The loss of a week's paycheck.

Business is business and family is family. Where those lines cross is where you discover character. I love those individuals I work for because they were there for me when I needed them most. I doubt Troy feels that way about the Vikings. As human beings, we are defined by our scars. Troy had physical scars that we all can see. He has emotional scars we can't. Those hurt the worst and, while the loss of one game check isn't going to make or break him financially, the hurt he already feels has been made considerably worse.

Rest in peace, Celestine. You will be missed.

Viking Update Top Stories