Karl Williams

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For those of a similar name, see Carl Williams (disambiguation).
Karl Williams
Date of birth: (1971-04-10) April 10, 1971 (age 44)
Place of birth: Albion, Michigan
Career information
Position(s): WR
College: Texas A&I/Texas A&M-Kingsville
As player:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Arizona Cardinals
Career stats
Playing stats at DatabaseFootball.com

Karl Williams was born on April 10, 1971 in Albion, Michigan. He was a successful wide receiver and punt/kick returner who played professional football for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Arizona Cardinals in the National Football League; as well as the Tampa Bay Storm in the Arena Football League. Signed by Tampa Bay as an undrafted free agent out of small school Texas A&M-Kingsville; Karl Williams retired as the all-time Buccaneers leader in punt return yardage (2,565) and punt return touchdowns (5) across 8 seasons with the club; records that still stand today.

Despite Karl’s remarkable success in the NFL, it would be a stretch to say that the game came easy for him. “From the first time I stepped on a football field, everybody told me I couldn’t do it. It seems like every year I found a way to prove everybody wrong. If you say I can’t do it I’m going to prove you wrong.” Over the course of his career, Williams has overcome humble beginnings including playing college ball at a virtually unknown school (Texas A&M Kingsville), a small frame (5 foot 10, 177 pounds), as well as the undesirable distinction of going undrafted on his way to the NFL. Fortunately for him, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Tony Dungy saw something in Williams in 1996; when Dungy brought him on as an undrafted free agent. Williams reflects fondly on his early years in the NFL saying “I remember those last phone calls when they were making the final cuts my rookie year. It was me and Jeff Gooch, and we were sitting around waiting for that phone call. We called it the Grim Reaper. Everyone was packing up and getting ready to go home and we were still waiting. Then they came around and said ‘Did you get the call? No? Then you’re good.’ I remember Jeff and I just falling back and saying, ‘Yeah!’”[1] This moment was only the beginning for him. As an NFL rookie he caught on quickly, establishing himself as Tampa Bay’s primary kick and punt return man by the end of the season. He had a gargantuan final month, and earned the NFC’s Special Team’s Player of the Month award for December that first year in 1996.[2] Williams parlayed his success as a return man into more reps as a wide-receiver. His 1997 campaign was his best ever at wideout; he hauled in 486 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns in that role, easily his best season at the position. Williams also continued to be an electric punt return specialist, and was picked by many as a candidate to end the Bucs’ infamous kickoff-return drought. The organization had never returned a kick for a touchdown in the franchise’s 30 year history before and during Williams’ playing days. Unfortunately for Williams, the majority of his return success was of the punt variety and not on kickoffs; and the infamous streak would survive until it was finally snapped by Michael Spurlock in 2007. Although he never did strike pay dirt as a kick returner, Williams scored with some regularity as a punt-returner, recording one touchdown each in the 1996 and 1997 seasons as well as one each year from 2000-2002. Arguably his greatest moment as a player came at the end of the 2002 season when he achieved the game’s highest honor by earning the distinction of becoming a Super Bowl Champion. A proud member of the first and only championship Tampa Bay squad; Williams’ Bucs were led by Hall of Famers Linebacker Derrick Brooks and Defensive Tackle Warren Sapp on defense, and game-manager Quarterback Brad Johnson on offense. Behind new Head Coach Jon Gruden, the Buccaneers went 12-4 during the regular season, dramatically upset their chief rivals the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game, and dominated the Super Bowl against the Oakland Raiders, winning 48-21 to bring the Lombardi Trophy to the Tampa Bay area. Williams left Tampa Bay after the following season and signed with the Arizona Cardinals, playing one year in the desert before leaving the NFL for good at the end of the 2004 season.

Beyond the numbers he accrued as a player, Williams remains a fan favorite specifically in the Tampa Bay area. Part of the source of his popularity can be found in his nickname, “The Truth.” He got his nickname largely because journeyman boxer of the 80s and 90s Carl Williams got it first. Carl “The Truth” Williams the boxer is most famous for going toe to toe with some of boxing’s best including Larry Holmes (who Williams lost a controversial decision to) and the legendary Iron Mike Tyson. Much like the boxer, our Karl has risen above his humble beginnings, his modest college, and his undrafted status to achieve greatness at football’s highest level. Karl has gone toe to toe with football’s finest and in doing so even earned football’s greatest prize, a Super Bowl Ring. In order to achieve this success Williams even embraced a largely unheralded role on special teams and made it his own, leaving his mark on the punt return game for a Tampa Bay franchise that has always struggled with return yardage. On his career as a punt returner Williams has said “That’s being a ballplayer. Everyone talks about me as a punt returner, and they made me a punt returner out of my rookie year because that was the only way I could get on the field.”[3] His rags to riches story is an enduring inspiration to those around him and has led to Williams’ ownership of a small gym in Texas, where he encourages the youth of his Alma matter that everyone can be successful.[1] He is now teaching the determination and willingness to do whatever it takes that he embraced so well as a player. When asked the truth about him, old coach Jon Gruden had this to say about Karl Williams, “He’s a humble guy, a guy who’s worked for everything he has and that’s one of the winning edges he brings to our football team and something I really appreciate about him.”[3]

His cousin, Mondray Gee, is an assistant coach in the NFL.


[4] [5] [3]

  1. ^ a b "Where Are They Know: Karl Williams". www.buccaneers.com. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Smith, Scott. "One Buc Mailbag: Past, Present and Future". www.buccaneers.com. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Korth, Joanne. "Truth is, Williams' place is secure". www.sptimes.com. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  4. ^ "Where Are They Know: Karl Williams". www.buccaneers.com. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  5. ^ Smith, Scott. "One Buc Mailbag: Past, Present and Future". www.buccaneers.com.