Former Buccaneers quarterback Doug Williams spoke with the media on Wednesday about a variety of topics. The Bucs are honoring their heritage this Sunday by wearing the 1976 uniforms against the former divisional rival the Green Bay Packers. They will also pay homage to the 1979 team that went to the NFC Championship game, and will have a number of players from that team at the game on Sunday.
Williams was the starter of the Buccaneers 1979 NFC Central Division Champion team. He was asked about his thoughts with retired defensive end Lee Roy Selmon being the first inductee to the Bucs Ring of Honor.
"I find it hard when you're talking about Lee Roy to talk about just 1979," Williams said. "To me I understand the Ring of Honor and all that, but if it is for the '79 team, the bell-cow of that football team was Ricky Bell to me, and he always will be because I saw him do some special things. You know Lee Roy is a hall-of-famer and the first player drafted here, and I'm sure that has a lot to do with it, but the '79 team was special in a lot of different ways because of certain people. Ricky Bell to me was the number one guy, along with Lee Roy and the defense. Whether or not it was [Richard] Batman Wood, David Lewis, Cecil Johnson, Cedric Brown. The defense was special. Offensively we still had a long ways to go. They gave us opportunities to do some things. But when you talk about 1,200 and some yards, I would honestly say that 500 was after contact, or more. That is why I say it is hard if you are talking about just ‘79. If you're talking about a career that's a different ball game."
Williams said that if the Bucs had beaten the Rams in the 1979 NFC Championship Game he would not have been able to play in the Super Bowl because he tore his biceps muscle in the third quarter against the Rams.After reaching the playoffs twice after the 79 season, Williams said the team felt like they were going to be a tough contender in the 1983 season. They felt that in 1983 and beyond that season they would have had a pretty good football team if they had stuck together. Williams left after the 1982 season after he was unable to sign a new contract with the Buccaneers. He went on to lead the Washington Redskins to a Super Bowl Championship in 1987.
The Buccaneers made Williams the 17th overall pick in the 1978 NFL Draft. He led the Bucs to the first three playoff appearances in franchise history in 1979, 1981, and 1982. He is second in Bucs history with 73 touchdown passes, third in passing yards (12,648), and fourth in completions with (895). Selmon is the Bucs all-time leader in sacks with 78.5. Selmon was the number one overall pick in the 1976 draft. Selmon is seventh in team history with 742 tackles.
While there were a number of good players on that team, the Buccaneers decided to start their Ring of Honor with Selmon, the only Bucs player to be in the NFL Hall of Fame.
"It is emotional because I've talked to a lot of the guys that, you know they had to put in Lee Roy, but a lot of them don't understand why they had to put in one guy if you're honoring the '79 team," said Williams. "But if you are honoring Lee Roy because of his accomplishments that is a different ball game. Talking to some of the guys, and a couple of them won't come because of it. I'm not going to call any names, but at the same time if you are talking about the ‘79 football team it is a different ball game."
Williams was asked who else he would put in the Ring of Honor from the 1979 team.
"Well Ricky Bell number one without question," said Williams. "Batman Wood, when I look at Derrick Brooks, I saw Batman Wood. It is a lot of other guys that played for us. Jimmie Giles, people might not give him credit but when you talk about tight ends who can do both things. You didn't have to put one in to catch and one in to block, Jimmy Giles could do both, and run. It is a lot of guys that I think the public and the guys would have been happy to see go in. Like I say, if it is just for the '79, if it is for a career that is a whole different ball game."
Currently Williams is the Bucs director of pro personnel. Williams re-joined the Bucs in 2004 after being the head coach at his alma mater Grambling State. In his current role Williams is the chief evaluator of pro talent for general manager Mark Dominik. Williams contract with Tampa Bay was up early in 2009, but Dominik retained Williams and elevated him to his current role. Williams weighed in on the Bucs struggles in 2009.
"It is tough, you know you are 0-7," said Williams. "This is the first time in my life that I've been apart of anything that is 0-7. It is a lot of losses and it is tough on everybody. I think now earlier in the season you all heard retooling. I think now it speaks for itself. We have to rebuild this thing. I think that is where we are going. A lot of young guys are going to get a chance to play, and grow up. I think you are looking at a new era. You are looking at from the ‘96s of the Brooks, and Sapps, and Lynchs and hope that you are fortunate enough in the draft to come up with them kind of guys again I think is where we are. Josh Freeman is the franchise guy that you got to hang your hat on."
Williams was asked about when patience will run out on the Bucs rebuilding process.
"Patience you lose a little bit every time you lose," Williams said. "I think now we get a reprieve I think for this year, without a doubt. You hope anyway. You realize it is a rebuilding. Next year I think we got to show some progress, and hopefully from now on we'll be a team that you have to reckon with."