Gift of grab? Sure, but Mike Williams can talk, too
Posted by Danny O'Neil
The continuing story of Mike Williams
By Danny O'Neil | The Seattle Times
The request arrived before Mike Williams' first practice.
A reporter in Detroit asked how Mike Williams looked. That's not an uncommon question regarding a potential roster addition, however this request was much more literal in terms of Williams' appearance. Specifically: Can you find out how much he weighs? Apparently, readers in Detroit were already taking guesstimates.
This is not necessarily the nicest introduction for Williams. Here was a guy who had spent the past two seasons out of the league entirely, had worked to get back to the point a team was willing to give him an opportunity to earn a spot, and instead of icebreakers and a welcoming handshake, people were already poking at his waistline.
Williams' response shows why he has become one of the more compelling interviews on this Seahawks' roster:
That was April 13, 2010. Before Williams made the team, before he caught 65 passes last season -- 21 more than his first three NFL years combined -- and before I learned that Williams is one of those people that I enjoy and respect the most as a reporter: An individual with a unique perspective, a sharp sense of humor and willingness to speak his mind.
I like to think that some of my regard for Williams because I generally find it admirable for someone with the courage of convictions to say what they actually think even though it may not be the most convenient thing, but I'm not naive to the fact that the success of my reporting is more dependent upon willing subjects than I'd like to admit. You could sic Woodward and/or Bernstein on coach Bill Belichick and not wind up with anything more than the coach's idle musings of whether or not the moon were made of Swiss cheese.
One of the things that I found most compelling about Williams last year was his awareness of how the story of his comeback was being told last year without being consumed by what was being written about him. He didn't not let the characterizations of others impact how he viewed himself or the path that brought him to this point, which I found both admirable and extremely interesting.
This came out in a number of different ways from pointing out teammate Leon Washington was a more deserving candidate for the award given to the league's best comeback player to referring to the Oprah-like elements that inevitably got woven into the stories about his comeback.
But how did he view it?
"I had a decent year last year," Williams said, "not a league-wide great year. I understand the whole 'story' aspect about it, but not a league-wide great year, and when you think about the free agents that were available this year, obviously guys that went out and have had better careers than me so far and even had better seasons than me last year that were available.
"Not so much thinking about other guys, but you've always got your nose down and you're focusing on your work, and showing that you've earned your spot and it's your spot to keep."
Williams returned to the NFL last year, but he did not arrive. Not in his mind at least. And as people recited the story of his comeback, what did they miss in telling his story?
"I'm trying to come up with something without cussing," he said.
This drew laughter. Then Williams turned serious.
"The biggest thing I think people don't know is that I've never not wanted to play," Williams said. "I've never not loved playing football. I started playing football when I was 5 years old. It was just other issues and people and being a young dude and not really dealing with it, with relationships and things, the right way, the way that kind of overwhelmed and drove me to the madness so to speak.
"And that's what my road back signifies is that I've always loved football. This is what I'm about. This is what I do."
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