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  1. #1
    COJOMAY is offline Jersey Retired
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    Neat Story On Pat Williams -- the stutter!

    BY SEAN JENSEN

    Pioneer Press

    Vikings nose tackle Pat Williams was teased as a child because he stuttered. Now he uses the anger from those memories to help him excel on the field.

    When he peers across the line of scrimmage on Sundays, Vikings nose tackle Pat Williams does not see the faces of Chicago Bears Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz or Detroit Lions Pro Bowl guard Damien Woody.

    Instead, Williams visualizes the kids who teased him because he stuttered as a child back in Monroe, La.

    "When I'm on the field, I see them messing with me," Williams said. "I take that anger out the whole game. I'm paying everybody back.

    "I always imagine him talking about me and laughing at me," Williams said of the opposing center. "That's why I want to destroy all centers."

    Mocking Williams is not wise. Underestimating him might be a bigger mistake.

    He grew up poor, without a father, and he had two children before high school graduation. Speech and reading problems made school a nightmare for him.

    None of that stopped him from his goal, first professed as an 8-year-old, to play in the NFL.

    "All that always made me stronger," Williams said. "People would call me dumb and say I wasn't going to make it. But I always wanted to prove people wrong, every year. Nobody thought I would do all that.

    "They were all laughing at me in junior high and high school, but I'm laughing now."

    His perseverance has paid dividends. Williams signed a three-year, $13 million contract with the Vikings in March. He is well on his way to establishing himself as one of the NFL's top nose tackles.

    Still, he refuses to forget where he came from or what he went through.

    HURTFUL WORDS

    The taunts from his childhood and adolescence still echo in his head.

    From the time he began to speak, Williams stuttered. When he was nervous, the words would stall.

    "I could hardly say anything, reading-wise, talking-wise," he said. "I would stutter bad. Real, real bad.

    "I would come home crying every day, from kindergarten to fifth grade, all the way through elementary school."

    Every time, his mother, Edna Williams, consoled him.

    "Kids can be cruel, and they would tease him a lot about that," Edna said. "I would encourage him and tell him not to let it bother him.

    "But it was difficult. It's always hard to see your child suffer, and you're not able to do anything about it. It hurts you."

    Edna prayed and prayed … until her patience was pushed too far. One of Pat's eighth-grade teachers often insisted he read aloud in class.

    "She would ask me to read, then I would struggle," he said. "One day, she was laughing with the students, and I got mad, and I cussed everybody out and left. I told everyone to go to hell."

    After learning of the incident, Edna went to the school the next morning, seeking the teacher.

    "I went up there really to be ignorant," Edna said. "But the assistant principal caught me and said, 'Let me handle it this time.' "

    That assistant principal enlisted a speech therapist to help Pat, and his communication skills improved.

    But he remained a loner, rebelling against his antagonists. Sometimes he and his sister, Christina, tag-teamed them.

    "It hurt me, like it hurt him, when someone picked on him," said Christina, who is a year older than Pat. "If someone messed with him, they'd have to fight me too. The teachers asked me, 'Why do you help him fight?' Because he's the baby."

    Christina said Pat's stuttering affected his self-esteem, except on the football field. There, he always stood out for his play and size, compelling Edna to carry his birth certificate with her to peewee games.

    In eighth grade, Pat told the players at Woosman High that he would start on the varsity as a freshman. He initially was placed on the freshman team but quickly was promoted to junior varsity. He didn't last long on the JV team, either. Pat was an all-district or all-state defensive end each of his four seasons.

    "He could have started varsity football in junior high and been a player," said Maurice Pollard, a high school teammate of Pat's who is now a physical education teacher at Martin Luther King Junior Middle School in Monroe. "Teams would run away from him, and he'd still find ways to make plays. He would even make blocks down the whole field. Teams just couldn't do nothing.

    "Everybody knew about Big Pat."

    FAMILY TIES

    Pat's dad, Mayfield Williams, left the family when Pat was about 3. And although he remained in Monroe, Mayfield resisted paying child support, so Edna had trouble providing for her family on her nurse's aide salary.

    "It was a struggle," Pat said. "Some months we didn't have lights. Some months we didn't have no gas. Some months we didn't have food. It was bad for us.

    "My mama would come home crying. But I would always tell her, 'Everything's all right. We're all right.' But it would break her heart."

    Pat longed for a relationship with his father, and he fumed when Mayfield did not reach out to him.

    "I was mad at him for a long time. I had a lot of anger toward him," Pat said. "I didn't want no money from him. Just come see me play. That's all I wanted."

    Although he had a male mentor in his life, Pat said he still associated with the wrong crowd, some of whom sold drugs. During his junior year, he started dating Valarie, and the couple had their first child, Crystal. The following year, they had another daughter, Alesha.

    Pat was at a crossroads. Valarie made him choose: his budding family or his volatile friends.

    "My wife changed me," Pat said. "I'd be dead or in jail, because I was going the wrong way."

    Pat fried chicken at KFC and Popeye's to help support his family in high school. But Valarie insisted he go to junior college, to pursue his NFL goal, and she worked at Burger King and McDonald's to support herself and the children.

    "She was there when we had N-O-T-H-I-N-G," Christina said of Valarie. "They had their rough days. That's why he loves her to death."

    Said Valarie, "It was hard. But I'm not going to complain because that's what families do for each other."

    Before he left for Navarro Junior College in Corsicana, Texas, Pat married Valarie. He would send some of his financial aid back to his family, which remained in Monroe.

    BIG BREAK

    While at Navarro, Pat experienced a breakthrough. He learned that he had Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, a visual perceptual problem that makes reading on white pages difficult. His C's and D's in high school turned to A's and B's in college. Today, Pat uses color overlays when he reads, and his playbook has red pages.

    Eventually, Pat ended up at Texas A&M, and he teamed with Brandon Mitchell to give the Aggies the top-rated defensive line tandem in the nation in 1996.

    But Pat said former A&M coach R.C. Slocum "badmouthed" him before the NFL draft, and Pat was not drafted. He was invited to training camp with the Buffalo Bills, and he initially played defensive end, behind Bruce Smith and Phil Hansen.

    Pat feared getting cut and constantly updated Valarie in Monroe.

    "I called her every day from practice, 'Baby, I'm still here. I'm still here,' " Pat said. "Then I made the final cut, and I said, 'We're here.' "

    Four-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Ted Washington did not speak to rookies. But he was impressed with Pat's demeanor and work ethic. He helped the young player figure out a way to stick around.

    "He wasn't a prototype defensive end. So I told my agent, 'I'm going to get him down to nose tackle,' " Washington said. "I gave him what I knew, but he already had the strength and speed. I took Pat under my wing because he listened, and he was a hard worker."

    Despite several productive seasons with the Bills, including an impressive 108 tackles in 2002, Pat has never been named a Pro Bowl starter. He has been an alternate three times.

    Asked to describe Pat in a word, six-time Pro Bowl center Kevin Mawae said, "consistent."

    "He was a force we had to reckon with," said Mawae, the longtime starting center for the New York Jets. "You had to bring your lunch pail because he didn't take plays off."

    Mawae, on injured reserve this season, said Pat is one of the top 10 defensive tackles he has faced.

    BETTER THAN EVER

    This season, Williams has excelled with 54 tackles, 1½ sacks, six tackles for loss and one forced fumble.

    "He's having his best year," said Vikings defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, who coached Williams in Buffalo. "Now all of his experience is coming out. I can't imagine anyone playing better at nose tackle."

    In addition to his lucrative NFL deal, Pat runs successful auto detailing and customizing shops in Buffalo. During his tenure in Buffalo, he was one of the most active players in the community. He looks forward to coaching high school football one day.

    For now, Pat revels in his job. Last week in Green Bay, with the temperature in the 20s, he snubbed long sleeves.

    "I love all the contact," he said. "You got to be nasty to play nose tackle. Everybody can't play it.

    "Anger builds inside my heart all week, and I bring it out on Sunday. Inside those white lines, I can't get in no trouble. I can't get arrested. No jokes, no nothing. I talk smack, and I get to whup guys for free."

    Valarie worries that negative emotions propel her husband, a point Pat does not disagree with.

    "It ain't a good thing to hold in," he said. "But I use it for good. If I use it in a bad way, then it ain't a good thing.

    Pat is working on releasing some of his anger. Three years ago, he let his father know of his displeasure.

    "I went to him to get everything out," Pat said. "I told him how mad I was at him. He really couldn't say nothing. He was sorry.

    "That kind of got my heart open."

    Last month, Mayfield suffered a stroke, and he has been in a coma since.

    Pat responds the only way he knows — pressing forward.

    "He's self-made," Pollard said. "He grew up hard on Seventh Street, and he didn't have the best of everything.

    "But the one thing about him, he was always a hard worker, and he never waited for anyone to give him anything. He earned everything he's got."
    Kentucky Vikes Fan

    When you require nothing, you get nothing; when you expect nothing, you will find nothing; when you embrace nothing, all you will have is nothing.

  2. #2
    cajunvike's Avatar
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    Re: Neat Story On Pat Williams -- the stutter!

    YOU GO, PAT!!!!

    Pro-Bowl Starter this year FOR SURE!!!
    BANNED OR DEAD...I'LL TAKE EITHER ONE

  3. #3
    LuckyVike's Avatar
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    Re: Neat Story On Pat Williams -- the stutter!

    Kinda like the waterboy. Tackling fuel!
    The best part of my day is when I get down on my knees, with my head in my hands, and thank GOD for everything he has given me.

  4. #4
    midgensa's Avatar
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    Re: Neat Story On Pat Williams -- the stutter!

    That is a very cool story to read ... and Pat has been such a huge addition ... I am very glad to see him in Purple and think he could be quite valuable another year or two at least as a part-timer if he tails off at all.

  5. #5
    midgensa's Avatar
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    Re: Neat Story On Pat Williams -- the stutter!

    By the way, how does a DT get 102 tackles and not get named to the pro bowl as a starter? Seriously, something is way off there.

  6. #6
    VikingsTw is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Neat Story On Pat Williams -- the stutter!

    "midgensa" wrote:
    By the way, how does a DT get 102 tackles and not get named to the pro bowl as a starter? Seriously, something is way off there.
    Haters.

    Thats my MVP so far this season for us, i mentioned it in another thread to, the guy is playing like a man with a mission. Consistent.

  7. #7
    WBLVikeBabe's Avatar
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    Re: Neat Story On Pat Williams -- the stutter!

    Pat Williams is awesome! He is such a beast.

    [move]My beautiful sig made by the one and only PPE![/move]

  8. #8
    PurplePeopleEaters's Avatar
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    Re: Neat Story On Pat Williams -- the stutter!

    Great article! It's pretty long but you should read it. Go Pat!

  9. #9
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    Re: Neat Story On Pat Williams -- the stutter!

    wow, just like the waterboy, (love that movie, it was on yesterday)

  10. #10
    Potus2028 is offline Hall of Famer
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    Re: Neat Story On Pat Williams -- the stutter!

    Talk about the feel good story of the year..
    The inner emotional side of me was balling...
    Two-thumbs up.. Definitely forwarding to all my other Viking fan friends.
    i m better than you, so just give up...

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