Washington Redskins Should Bring Doug Williams Back Home
The team and Williams are currently in talks to create a role for him, Redskins sources say. And there is competition for this historical pro football figure -- the UFL has jumped in, wooing Williams for a role as a general manager for a potential future franchise in Norfolk, Va., a UFL source revealed.
"Yes, it is true that we are interested in Doug," UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue confirmed in a telephone interview on Tuesday afternoon. "I think I was one of the first people in the NFL back in 1995 to hire Doug in Jacksonville. And I think he has been overlooked at times when NFL executive jobs have opened. He is a great example of a great player who after his playing career continued to embody talent, character and stayed current in football. Players feed off of him. If you can get Doug Williams, in any franchise, your franchise will be better. And if we have the opportunity to bring him in, that is an opportunity that we will make happen."
Williams recently exited Tampa Bay where he had served as a Buccaneers personnel executive for the last six years. No one knows where he will land -- the NFL, UFL or beyond -- but the Redskins provide an intriguing fit.
And that would continue his football story as one of unusual and complete circles.
Williams is best known for becoming the first and only African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl. His four-touchdown-pass second quarter in Super Bowl XXII in 1988 sparked Washington's 42-10 victory over the Denver Broncos. He was the Super Bowl XXII Most Valuable Player. Those still serve as linchpin moments in NFL history.
But Williams, 54, born in Zachary, La., traveled a rare repeating road before and after that. He played prep football at Chaneyville (La.) High, joined Grambling as a quarterback in 1973, was a first-round draft pick by Tampa Bay in 1978 and then joined the Redskins as a quarterback in 1988.
When his NFL playing career ended in 1990, he went back to Chaneyville High to coach football. He became Grambling head coach in 1998, succeeding icon Eddie Robinson. Back to Tampa Bay in 2004 to work in personnel. And now, maybe, back to the Redskins.
That's his high school, Grambling, Tampa Bay, Washington, then his high school again, Grambling again, Tampa Bay again and, now, possibly Washington again. There were other stops along the way, including with the Jacksonville Jaguars in personnel in 1995 and afterward as an offensive coordinator in the defunct World League of American Football. But these four sites, these four institutions -- Chaneyville, Grambling, Tampa Bay and Washington -- are the crux of Williams' football identity.
There is little chance that Williams would return to Washington simply to become a public relations figurehead. That already would come with him joining the Redskins again -- he remains a beloved figure in Washington and among Redskins fans. Thus, the key in this potential connection is finding a role that fits Williams. As the NFL calendar rolls toward June, that would not be easy for any NFL team to accomplish. Most franchises much earlier in the offseason made their additional front-office choices and have their staffs in place.
But where there is a will, where there is interest, there is a way. And that appears to be the feeling on both sides of this story.
Redskins fans should hope it happens.
Walking through the door, Williams brings expertise in knowledge of collegiate and NFL players, what makes many of them tick and how to help coalesce them. He is a direct and honest judge of personnel and football schemes. And his loyalty is a great asset -- there is no way a person can travel the circle of a career he already has by burning bridges and relationships along the way.
Let's hope this clicks in Washington and that we see Doug Williams again as a Redskins figure and contributor. Sure, if he gets the chance to run his own show in the UFL, there is solid enticement in that. There is solid merit in that. And you can bet the UFL would find a role for him that is not ceremonial in any way.
But returning to Washington in a fruitful role would be a splendid circle for Williams and for the NFL minus any hint of a ruinous circus. A chance for Williams to maybe go "home" once again.