Tyrone Williams (wide receiver)
|Date of birth:||March 26, 1970|
|Place of birth:||Halifax, Nova Scotia|
|Height:||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)|
|Weight:||207 lb (94 kg)|
|NFL draft:||1992 / Round: 9 / Pick: 239|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Stats at NFL.com|
Tyrone Williams (born March 26, 1970 in Halifax, Nova Scotia) is a retired gridiron football player. He is the first player to win a Vanier Cup championship in Canadian university football, a Super Bowl championship in the National Football League and a Grey Cup championship in the Canadian Football League (CFL).
University of Western Ontario
Williams was recruited by University of Western Ontario football coach Larry Haylor in 1988 from Halifax's Queen Elizabeth High School (Halifax, Nova Scotia), where he excelled at football, soccer and basketball. He made an immediate impact in his freshman season with the Mustangs, setting a team receiving record for most yards per catch with 21.9, and was named an Ontario Universities Athletic Association (OUAA) second-team all-star.
Williams was named an OUAA all-star again in 1989, a season in which the Mustangs won their fifth Vanier Cup title. Williams caught five passes for 157 yards and a touchdown to earn the Ted Morris Memorial Trophy as the game's most outstanding player as Western beat the Saskatchewan Huskies 35-10 to win the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union (CIAU) football championship. Williams earned All-Canadian honours in 1990 and again 1991, and graduated Western with a degree in economics, and school records for most receptions and most yards receiving. Those records stood for nearly two decades until they were surpassed by future CFL star Andy Fantuz.
Williams' accomplishments in Canada caught the attention of American scouts, and after his final season at Western ended, he received an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama. Not only was Williams the first Canadian university player to earn an invitation to the NCAA's annual showcase for graduating US college football players, he also caught a 36-yard touchdown pass in a 13-10 AFC victory.
National Football League
Williams was selected by the Calgary Stampeders seventh overall in the first round of the CFL draft in February 1992, but decided to wait for the NFL draft in April before deciding on his professional future.
Williams was picked by the Phoenix Cardinals with their ninth round selection (239th overall) in the 1992 NFL draft. He became the first CIAU player selected in the NFL draft since the Los Angeles Rams drafted offensive lineman Mike Schad of the Queen's University Golden Gaels in the first round (23rd overall) in 1986. Not since University of Toronto Varsity Blues quarterback Dan Feraday, who was drafted in the 12th round by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1982, had a skill-position player from a Canadian university been taken by an NFL team.
Williams was not the first Western graduate to go to the NFL. Future Canadian Football Hall of Fame inductee Joe Krol played two games with the Detroit Lions in 1945, and offensive guard Dave Sparenberg played one game for the Cleveland Browns as a replacement player during the National Football League Players Association strike in 1987. Nor was Williams the first Mustang to be drafted by the NFL. Linebacker John Priestner was an 11th round pick (280th overall) of the Baltimore Colts in 1979. Priestner did not play in any regular season games with the Colts and returned to Canada to play for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Williams' NFL career did not start off smoothly. His work visa did not arrive until two weeks into the Cardinals training camp, and after falling behind the competition, he was cut. After his release, Williams was picked up by the Dallas Cowboys, where he remained on the team's practice squad. He never dressed for a regular season or playoff game and watched from the sidelines as the Cowboys crushed the Buffalo Bills 52-17 in Super Bowl XXVII.
The on-field high point of Williams' time with Dallas came on August 8, 1993, when he hooked up with quarterback Jason Garrett on a game-tying 53 yard touchdown pass in the Cowboys' 13-13 tie with the Detroit Lions in a preseason game at Wembley Stadium in London, England. He dressed for the Cowboys' last five games of the 1993 regular season, catching one pass for 25 yards. The Cowboys earned a berth in Super Bowl XXVIII, but Williams was relegated to the inactive list when the team decided to dress an extra running back. He did not play in the game, but he earned a Super Bowl ring as the Cowboys defeated the Bills 30-13 to win their second consecutive NFL championship.
In 1994 Williams parted with the Cowboys, and joined the Chicago Bears, but he was released during the team's final cuts.
After sitting out the 1994 season, Williams was invited to the Buffalo Bills training camp in 1995. He did not make the team, and decided to look for pro opportunities back in Canada.
Canadian Football League
Midway through the CFL's 1995 season, Williams caught on with the Calgary Stampeders, who still retained his negotiation rights from the 1992 draft. Joining former Mustangs teammate Dave Sapunjis in the Stampeders receiving corps, Williams caught six passes for 81 yards and one touchdown in seven games. He nearly won the CFL's championship in his first year in the league, catching one pass for 13 yards in Calgary's 37-20 loss to the Baltimore Stallions in the 83rd Grey Cup.
On May 23, 1996 Williams was acquired by the Toronto Argonauts in exchange for the negotiation rights to quarterback Dave Dickenson. Williams enjoyed his finest professional season in 1996, playing a full schedule and catching passes for almost 900 yards. Led by quarterback Doug Flutie, the Argonauts cruised to a 15-3 record and won the 84th Grey Cup over the Edmonton Eskimos 43-37. With the victory, Williams became the first player to win the Vanier Cup, the Super Bowl and the Grey Cup.
On May 11, 1997 the Miami Dolphins of the NFL announced they had signed Williams to a two-year contract as a free agent. The team released him the next day. After this setback, Williams retired from pro football at the age of 27. He never gave an official explanation for his decision, but Western football coach Larry Haylor speculated that injuries, including concussions, may have forced Williams to end his pro career.
- Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame: Tyrone Williams
- Ian Van Den Hurk, Lord of the Rings: Western alum Tyrone Williams University of Western Ontario Gazette, February 4, 2005.
- DatabaseFootball.com: Tyrone Williams
- CFLapedia.com: Tyrone Williams