For years, Pat Williams has been regarded as one of the best defensive tackles in the league. When the Vikings snapped him up away from the Bills in the free-agent period of early 2005, it was seen as a coup. That feeling was reinforced late in the 2007 season when he signed a contract extension that will likely see him end his career as a Viking. But it wasn't until after the 2006 season – his 10th in the NFL – that he got his first invitation to the Pro Bowl.
Even that invite was a little tainted. Williams was selected as an injury replacement for Tommie Harris of the Bears. But this time around, Williams will be heading to Honolulu as a starter – a honor that has been a long time in coming.
"I never really thought too much about not getting picked," Williams said of his long Pro Bowl drought. "I figured all I could do is play my best and, if I get recognized (by voting players and coaches), that's fine. If not, that's fine too."
Williams said his selection to the Pro Bowl last year was a nice break in his typical postseason routine. While the game is meaningless in terms of wins and losses, getting a chance to play in a tropical setting in February isn't too shabby.
"Spending the week out there is great," Williams said. "You can relax and enjoy yourself. The practices aren't very hard and you get some time away to enjoy yourself."
Williams believes that it wasn't a coincidence that both he and teammate Kevin Williams were selected to the Pro Bowl as starters and, while the intensity level of the all-star showcase will be considerably less than a regular-season or playoff game, the Vikings' defensive motto will remain the same.
"They won't be able to run up the middle against us, that's for sure," Williams said. "It doesn't matter what kind of game it is – preseason, Pro Bowl, Super Bowl, whatever. They ain't gonna run against us. We won't have it."
* From the Worst Kept Secret Department comes this: despite once again being selected to start in the Pro Bowl, Randy Moss will forego the competition and head home instead of Hawaii. He was replaced by equally volatile receiver Chad Johnson, who spent much of Super Bowl week doing interviews in which he publicly requested to be traded away from the Bengals.
* For those wondering why the ruling that Michael Vick can keep his $16.25 million in signing bonus money was heard in a court in Minneapolis, it dates back to the antitrust lawsuit brought by the defunct USFL in 1986, which technically won in court, but was awarded $1 by a jury, which was trebled to $3 as allowed by the court. The NFL apparently paid in change in the pockets of the attorneys arguing the case. Since then, Doty has remained the presiding judge in NFL matters, ruling on the Reggie White case for free agency, the Maurice Clarett petition to join the NFL after one year of college and other NFL labor-related cases.
* Former Vikings QB Shaun Hill signed a three-year contract extension with the 49ers Monday.
Williams Hawaii Bound
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