Ex-Dolphin, University of Florida Star Jarvis Williams Dies at 45
A spokeswoman with the Putnam Community Medical Center said Williams died shortly before midnight in his hometown of Palatka, Fla. The medical examiner confirmed the cause of death was an acute asthma attack.
The Sun Sentinel first reported the cause of death as an apparent heart attack.
Williams, a safety, had 16 interceptions during his NFL career, which spanned from 1988-94. He spent his first five seasons with the Dolphins, who selected Williams in the second round of the 1988 draft. Williams played his final year with the New York Giants before retiring.
"It's really a shocker," Norm Carlson, longtime Florida assistant athletic director, told GatorBait.net. "It's so sad. He's got a family. He's been a good citizen. Forty-five is way too young."
Williams' NFL career pales in comparison to his efforts at Florida. GatorBait's Keith Niebuhr called Williams "one of the most heralded defensive players" in the program's history, and Williams' statistics back up that claim. In his four years with the Gators, Williams racked up 239 tackles and 10 interceptions, the latter number placing him third on Florida's all-time list at the time of his graduation in 1988.
He was also a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award in 1987, presented annually to the nation's top defensive back.
"To me, he was one of the toughest kids to ever play at that position," former Florida defensive coordinator/secondary coach Zaven Yaralian told GatorBait.com. "He would just knock the heck out of people. He played the game the way it was meant to be played."
Williams' son, Jarvis Williams Jr., currently plays fullback for Jacksonville University.