"Begin with the end in mind, and die empty". You might ask me, “what the heck does that mean?”, and I’ll explain later, just keep that quote in mind.
After watching NFL Networks featured series “A Football Life” on Aeneas Williams, I’ve come away with a handful of interesting moments. First, if you haven’t watched it, do yourself a favor, and find a way to watch it. Not only is Aeneas Williams a hall-of-famer and former Los Angeles Ram, he’s just a great individual with a better story. Let’s take a look at some of the interesting things of his life.
After high school football, Williams was only offered a spot on a football team by one single college, Dartmouth. It was at this point that he simply became realistic and “quit football”. He followed his older brother to Southern University, to become an accountant. His older brother had all the steps in place for Aeneas to follow, and that he did. At Southern, Aeneas eventually had a change of heart. What started with walking on the football team, turned into stepping into a starting role with a CB going down with injury. The rest is all history.
Fast forward to 1991, where the Phoenix Cardinals selected CB Aeneas Williams in the third round (pick 59). As an immediate starter, Williams registered an INT in his first NFL game, which coincidentally came from the hands of QB Jim Everett. I’d say the draft choice turned out well, because from 1994-1999 (six consecutive years) Williams was a pro bowler. He logged 30 interceptions and five touchdowns in that time span, truly insane. Williams is the man responsible for snapping Michael Irvin’s streak of having at least one catch in every game, ultimately ending at 117-games. The Cardinals were coached by Buddy Ryan at some point there, and he and his son (Rex Ryan) decided to make Aeneas a true shutdown corner who followed the top receiver of every team, and boy did it work. He was the “original Darelle Revis, Aeneas-Island” is what Rex Ryan said.
After 10 years with the Cardinals (who mainly struggled his entire tenure), Aeneas Williams was ready for a new start, and asked management to trade him, so they did just that. The Cardinals traded the 6x pro-bowler and 4x all-pro to the Rams for a 2nd and 4th-round picks. At this point, the Rams had one of the worst defenses in the league statistically, so they went out to acquire a great player with a ton of experience and influence, and it all followed Williams to St. Louis. Williams ultimately spent four years in STL, logging another 9 INT’s and 3 TD’s, as well as two more pro-bowls and one more all-pro award. Williams turned the Rams defense around (albeit at Safety now), and got to taste a deep playoff run as well as Superbowl, which the Rams unfortunately lost.
After an illustrious NFL career, Aeneas Williams was elected into the hall-of-fame in 2014. Known as one of the best CB’s/S’s to ever play the game, Williams now does a lot of social injustice work as well as being a pastor. Williams was very local within the Ferguson community during the incidents with Michael Brown, and continues to be a huge influence in the city today.
So.... back to that quote, yeah? Well, the point is, with everything that was sandwiched in between, to “live out your full potential in life, go to the grave empty, and don’t waste anything”... as Aeneas Williams would say.