With all the talk about Sunday perhaps being Brett Favre's final game, Pat Williams fueled speculation that he, too, may be considering retirement.
Williams said he felt "drained" emotionally from Sunday's loss and said he understands how quarterback Brett Favre felt and spoke with him about the potential of retiring.
"It would be kind of tough, but I see how Brett felt," Williams said. "Basically, like he said, you got through a season like that and you're drained. I feel like he feels. When he was in Green Bay, he lost the NFC Championship (against the Giants in 2007) and felt like he was drained. But, he still felt like he had to come back and prove something."
Williams said he doesn't believe he has anything to prove and, depending on how things progress in the offseason, he could walk away from the game that has meant so much to him.
"I wouldn't be sad about it," Williams said. "I've had a long career and I've had fun playing. That's been the big thing for me is having fun. If you aren't having fun, what's the point of playing? I come here every day and have fun with these guys and this year has been great. But there comes a time when you have to ask yourself when it's enough"
Williams has battled through injuries this season, including foot, knee and elbow problems, but said that none of those injuries have played a role in his decision to contemplate retirement.
"That's just part of football," Williams said of his injuries. "Everyone in here is hurt in some way. The physical part isn't the problem. Never has been. It's just to have a season like we did and end the way it did, it makes you think. Right now, I don't know if I'll come back or not."
Williams' leadership has been a steady influence on the Vikings defense and his teammates hope that, given time to rest and get away from the game for awhile, he can clear his head and return for another Super Bowl run next year.
"You can understand where he's coming from," linebacker Ben Leber said. "He's been around the league a long time and the goal of every player is to win a championship. When you get to that stage in your career and you come so close to reaching that goal and it doesn't happen, you can see why he might feel that way. We all hope he's coming back, because he is still playing the game at a high level and is an important part of our defense. We've been the best in the league the last three years in stopping the run and Pat's a big reason for that."
Williams just finished his 13th season and his fifth as a member of the Vikings. He said that he doesn't feel he needs to play for any reason other than the love of the game and his teammates, which could make his potentially walking away a decision that wouldn't be all that difficult.
"I do it because I have fun," Williams said. "I don't do it for anything else, so if I ain't having fun, I'm not going to do it. I always have fun being around these guys. I like coming to work every day and laughing with these guys. So if I don't feel like I'm having fun, I ain't going to do it."
Williams said he won't rush to a decision about whether to return or retire. There will be a lot of factors that come into play, but he said he will weigh those issues over the next few weeks before he comes to a final decision.
"I'm going to talk with my family and friends and decide after that," Williams said. "Right now, I'd say I'm 50-50. I might come back. I might not. I don't know where it stands right now. But, I'll be good with whatever decision I make."
If he does opt to retire, it will leave a hole with the Vikings defense, not only with respect to being a dominant run-stopping defensive tackle, but being one of the leaders of the team who has been a popular teammate.
"Everybody in this locker room wants Pat to come back," Leber said. "There aren't many people that can do what he does. He's a great player and he would be missed. But just as important is what he has meant to this team. He's a lot of fun to be around because when you're dragging a little bit he can always make you laugh. He loves the game and has been important to our building a team that can win a championship. Nobody would blame him if he wants to walk away, but there's a selfish part of all of us that wants him to come back."
Williams wouldn't specify when he would make a final decision, but said it won't be something that drags out for months.
"I'll talk to the coaches and let them know," Williams said of his pending decision. "When that comes, it will be it – one way or the other. I just need some time to think it over."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Williams talks about retirement possibilities
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