A while back, SportDFW began a series entitled “The Top 10 Candidates for induction into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor”. You can read the profiles for the first seven candidates here. I was asked to do a profile on Erik Williams who was one of the candidates. I would like to give a special thanks to Bryan Broaddus, (the football analyst for the Dallas Cowboys), who agreed to co-author this article with me.
Erik George Williams was born on September 7th 1968. He started out as a dominant defensive lineman at John Martram High School. As a result of poor grades, he wasn’t able to obtain a Division-I scholarship, so he enrolled at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. At CSU they converted him to the offensive left tackle position, and groomed him to become a prolific player at the NAIA level and an All-American.
During his college career he played a major role in the Marauders getting to the NAIA national championship in 1990. Williams helped the offense average 492 yards and 54.8 points per game and to set an NAIA record for most points in a singe season with 594. Williams was inducted into the Central State University Sports Hall of Fame In 2010.
Williams, was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the 3rd round of the 1991 NFL Draft (with a choice from the Steve Walsh trade), another brilliant move by Jimmy Johnson. Williams didn’t see much playing time as a rookie, because Nate Newton was playing right tackle. His dominant play during the 1992 training camp forced the Cowboys to move Nate Newton to left guard in order to have all of their best players on the offensive line.
In 1992, after becoming the Cowboy’s starting right tackle, he earned the respect of his peers and the fans alike when he held Reggie White without a sack in a 20-10 Dallas win, earning the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week award. From then on he was nicknamed “Big E” and by 1993 his physical, dominant, and aggressive style of play, made him the top offensive lineman in the NFL.
Williams got in a serious one-car accident on October 24, 1994, and it caused him to miss most of the 1994 season. (Ironically the year the Cowboys didn’t make the Super Bowl during their ’90’s run). It took a long time before he was 100%. He suffered an injured right knee as well as a broken rib, torn ligaments in his left thumb and facial lacerations that needed plastic surgery. An MRI of the knee showed he had two torn ligaments. The MCL (medial collateral) and PC (posterior cruciate) as well as a torn muscle.
Williams returned in 1995. He wasn’t his old self, but he was still good enough to help the team win Super Bowl XXX and earn his 3rd trip to the Pro Bowl. Williams was a three-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler, playing in the 1993, 1996, 1997, and 1999 Pro Bowls. His ability to protect quarterback Troy Aikman and to run-block for running back Emmitt Smith helped the Cowboys win Super Bowls in 1992, 1993 and 1995. From 1992 to 1995, together with Nate Newton, Mark Tuinei, Mark Stepnoski and Larry Allen, he was part of what was probably the best offensive line in NFL history.
Bryan Broaddus: Erik Williams was always a thorn in the side of the great Reggie White in Green Bay. There were not many players that Reggie ever feared playing but Williams was one of those guys. I will never forget the battles they had, with Erik usually coming out on top. It wasn’t that Williams was a technically sound player, he was just the nastiest that White would ever face. I remember being on the sideline of a play off in Dallas, when White was in the bench area complaining about his eye and the trainers were trying to figure out what was wrong. Reggie said that on the first play that Williams jammed his thumb in White’s eye causing him not to rush as hard because he couldn’t see. It was Williams’ way of slowing down White. There were other times where Williams would hit him in the throat or dive in the back of his legs. There was never anything pretty about Erik Williams’ game, but when the Cowboys and Packers got together, one of the greatest pass rushers in NFL history turned into just another player when he faced him.
I asked Bryan what he would write for his notes to turn in to the staff of a football team if he was scouting Erik Williams. Here is what it would look like in a scout’s language:
Poor technique but nasty Toughness, knows how to hold trip and clip. Doesn’t have great lateral range but works to finish blocks. Gets movement in the running game with power. Outstanding upper body strength. Hard guy to move if you rush him down the middle. One of those guys that keeps coming after you. Plays to the whistle and beyond. Tries to beat his man up throughout a game. Not always pretty but effective.
Many (myself included) believe that if not for the injuries he suffered in his near-fatal accident, he would have finished his career as the greatest offensive lineman in NFL history. Williams dominated on the offensive line for the Cowboys from 1991-2000 and started 133 games. He was a major factor in the Cowboys’ success.
Erik has also made it a point to give back to the community. He started his own foundation. I included the bio from the web page:
Erik Williams is the founder and president of The Erik Williams Foundation. Erik Williams is a former member of the Dallas Cowboys and a 3-time Superbowl champion. Mr. Williams is personally aware of the importance of youth sports as a means of furthering one’s education and career goals. For Mr. Williams, football was the vehicle that enabled him to attend college and to go on to build a successful career, first as a professional football player and more recently as a businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.
The Erik Williams Foundation believes that youth sports have a value beyond simply being fun or entertaining for kids. Youth sports also provide an opportunity for children to learn sportsmanship, discipline, team work and the importance of hard work and perseverance to achieve a goal.
In spite of his multiple Pro Bowls and 3 Super Bowl championships, he still hasn’t been inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. But my question for Jerry Jones is:
Why don’t you show the man some much deserved respect, and induct him into the Dallas Cowboys Ring Of Honor, along side his long time teammate, Larry Allen?
“I am certain that this man would want him enshrined with him”