Twenty years after he led the Redskins to victory in Super Bowl XXII, Doug Williams will be honored at Super Bowl XLII
Twenty years ago, almost to the day, Doug Williams enjoyed the finest moment of his professional career.
Williams' four touchdown passes in the Washington Redskins' Super Bowl XXII rout of the Denver Broncos earned him MVP honors, not to mention memories that will last a lifetime.
But Super Bowl XXII wasn't just a personal milestone for Williams, who started his NFL career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1978. It was also a watershed moment for the league. The first African-American quarterback ever to start in a Super Bowl, Williams made the most of his chance at history, and the NFL had reason to celebrate.
Which is exactly what they will do this Sunday, 20 years and three days after Williams' big day. On Monday, the NFL announced that it will salute Williams and his accomplishments during the postgame presentation for the Super Bowl XLII victors.
Williams, now a personnel executive for the Buccaneers, will participate in the Vince Lombardi Trophy ceremony at the conclusion of Sunday's game. The ceremony will be televised live by FOX from University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona, the site of Super Bowl XLII between New England and the New York Giants.
The celebration of Williams' career will be shared by many. Watched by nearly 140 million viewers in the U.S. last year, the Super Bowl is annually the nation's highest-rated TV program. The game will be broadcast worldwide in more than 230 countries and territories.
Williams joins the ranks of Hall of Fame coaches Don Shula and Bart Starr as legends saluted in previous Lombardi Trophy ceremonies, which was expanded in 2006 to include a great from a prior Super Bowl. Shula participated in last year's ceremony, while Starr was featured as part of Super Bowl XL in Detroit.
In the Redskins' 42-10 win over the Broncos, Williams completed 18 of 29 passes for 340 yards and four touchdowns, all in the second quarter. Washington set a Super Bowl record by scoring 35 points in the second period to pull away from the Broncos. At the time, Williams tied or set Super Bowl records for most touchdown passes, most yards passing, longest pass completion and longest touchdown pass (both 80 yards).
Williams retired in 1989 from the NFL and went into coaching, including replacing the legendary Eddie Robinson in 1997 as the head coach at Grambling State, his alma mater. He rejoined the Buccaneers in 2004.
Bucs Add Three to 2008 Roster
It may have taken a little while, but Charles Spiller's tryout with the Buccaneers last spring has paid off.
As an undrafted rookie working under a tryout contract, Spiller participated in a May mini-camp in Tampa in 2007. Now he has a spot on the Bucs' 2008 offseason roster.
Spiller, a speedy wide receiver out of Alcorn State, was one of three players the Buccaneers recently inked to 2008 reserve/future contracts. The signings of Spiller, wide receiver Taye Biddle and tight end Keith Heinrich were announced on Tuesday.
Biddle spent the entire 2007 season on Tampa Bay's practice squad. Heinrich started and finished the season on that same unit but actually spent 10 of the season's 17 weeks on the active roster after being promoted on October 20.
The 6-0, 183-pound Spiller finished his four-year career at Alcorn State as one of the most prolific receivers in school history. With final totals of 131 receptions for 2,917 yards and 23 touchdowns, Spiller ranks in the top three in all three categories in school annals. His career yardage total is the best ever for a Braves receiver and his catches and TDs rank third and tied for second, respectively.
Biddle (6-1, 185) first joined the Buccaneers as a waiver claim from the Carolina Panthers on September 2 of this past season. His arrival coincided with the formation of the first 53-man roster at the end of the preseason, but he was then released two days later and, on September 6, signed to the practice squad.
Though he was an undrafted free agent out of Mississippi in 2006, Biddle made the Panthers' practice squad early in the year and then the active roster in November. In two late-season appearances, he caught two passes for 31 yards, returned a pair of punts for 11 yards and added one tackle on special teams.
Heinrich, who also started his NFL career with Carolina, has actually been in the league since 2002. A sixth-round pick of the Panthers that year, he made the 53-man roster as a rookie and appeared in four games before landing on injured reserve in November. Heinrich went on to play in 14 games over the 2003-04 seasons with the Cleveland Browns before spending all of 2005 on injured reserve, and his career regular-season totals include nine receptions for 65 yards and two touchdowns.
After spending much of 2006 on Tampa Bay's practice squad, Heinrich started out on that same crew in 2007. His October promotion led to four midseason appearances for Tampa Bay, though he played primarily on special teams. While he did not record a reception during his time on the active roster, Heinrich did notch one kick-coverage tackle.
Offseason Program Set to Begin March 17
St. Patrick's Day will hold a little extra significance for the Buccaneers this year.
Tampa Bay's 14-week offseason training program traditionally starts on the third Monday of March, and that's true again in 2008, as the team has set its calendar for the next six months. This spring, that third Monday just happens to be the 17th, making it coincide with St. Patrick's Day. But if there's a pot of gold waiting for the Buccaneers at the end of the 2008 season, it won't be found by chasing rainbows. Instead, the team will lay the foundation for a strong season with many hours of hard work in the spring and summer months.
The Bucs' offseason program is voluntary, but it traditionally draws extremely good participation, in part because of the favorable weather in Tampa. The 14 weeks encompass a rookie mini-camp held just after the draft and conclude with a mandatory full-team mini-camp during the third week of June.