When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, it will be more than just a regular football game to Grambling legend and alumnus Doug Williams, including his family. The Zachary native will be inducted into the Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor and will have his name displayed in the Raymond James Stadium.
The Ring of Honor is an exclusive group of players who have made an impact in the franchise’s history.
“The last few years I’ve stood up here and introduced one new member to the Ring (each year). But this year, we’re going to do things a little differently,” Buccaneers’ co-chairman Bryan Glazer said at a press conference. “The Tampa Bay Buccaneers plan on bringing in two new members into our Ring of Honor this year, on separate occasions.”
In May, the franchise announced that Williams and Mike Alstott were selected for this year’s class; however, Alstott’s ceremony was earlier in the season. Though both played in different eras, they left their mark on the gridiron by turning the franchise around.
“It is a great honor… to see him get the respect he deserves from a place that I know for a fact held a special place in his heart,” said D.J. Williams. “It was my dad’s first NFL (team) after getting drafted out of Grambling. He is a true franchise changer.”
During his years at GSU, Williams was a standout quarterback who was named Black College Player of the Year twice. In 1978, he was drafted by Tampa Bay in the first round and was the 17th pick overall. At the time the new franchise was struggling, entering its third season with a 2-26 record. That all changed after Williams was drafted.
He immediately set the foundation for “one of the most impressive turnarounds” in the franchise’s history, according to Glazer. The Buccaneers’ went from a losing team to a winning team quickly. In 1979, the team finished with a winning record of 10-6. During his five years with the franchise, Williams made three playoff appearances, led the team to winning the NFC Central Division title and to the NFC Championship Game. He still holds the single-game record (486 yards) and is the fourth-leading passer with 12,648 yards at Tampa. No quarterback in the franchise has been able to compile four 300-yard passing games in one season like Williams.
“Doug Williams is one of the greatest to ever play the game of football,” said Joyce Evans, general manager of 91.5 KGRM, GSU’s radio station. “He is always determined and exhibits great confidence.”
Evans and Williams are close friends; she was a senior at Grambling when he was a freshman.
Though Williams is one of eight who have been selected into the Ring of Honor, he was in the first class inducted into the Krewe of Honor at the old Tampa Stadium. But when the stadium was demolished in 1998, so was the Krewe.
“Putting an individual’s name on the stadium is a big deal,” said Williams. “This is my second time my name is being put on a stadium. It is amazing, to be honest with you.”
Williams said that his older brother, Robert Williams, and GSU alumnus James “Shack” Harris were big influences for him. He added that he wouldn’t be where he is without the two of them. Williams also lauded the help he got from his teammates.
He then added how he wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them, including his teammates.
“But I just want to say thanks to all the guys that I had an opportunity to play with because if it wasn’t for you, I would not have had the success I had on the football field.”