After two messy separations from the Bucs, Doug Williams wasn't waiting by the telephone to learn if he had been named to the team's Ring of Honor. One of the franchise's most prolific passers is used to being passed over.
Williams was the blood-and-guts quarterback who took the 2-26 Bucs from worst to first and within nine points of the Super Bowl before a contract dispute led him to leap to the USFL. He left the Bucs again as a disregarded personnel executive five years ago.
But Williams was ecstatic when he learned he would be part of the first two-man class in the Ring of Honor along with fullback Mike Alstott.
"Hey man, that's just like if you were going to heaven and you were going to get in with 10 other people, don't get me next week," Williams, 59, said during an announcement ceremony Wednesday. "I'm going now!"
Alstott, 41, the club's all-time leader in touchdowns and one of the most popular and accomplished Bucs, will be honored Oct. 4 when they host the Panthers. Williams will be inducted on Dec. 6 when the Bucs host the Falcons.
"Super Bowl MVP. Legendary. Just a great guy in general. I couldn't be more honored to sit up there with him," Alstott said of Williams. "I'll share this day with him. He's great."
Williams played five seasons with the Bucs. Alstott played his entire 12-year career with Tampa Bay, earning his first of six straight Pro Bowl appearances in 1997 when the team broke its long playoff drought.
Co-chairman Bryan Glazer described Alstott as a hard-nosed runner "with the size of a fullback, the soft hands of a tight end and the speed of a tailback."
A second-round pick from Purdue, Alstott ushered in an era of unparalleled success and was part of seven playoff teams, including the Super Bowl XXXVII champions.
"I lived a dream each and every day with my teammates when I went to that office," Alstott said. "To be able to inspire and make plays when I went on the field. I don't know how I did it, but I did it."
While in Chicago to announce the Bucs' second-round pick in the NFL draft, Alstott was asked about the Super Bowl team.
"Some of the other guys are saying, 'You guys had an amazing team. Your locker room, the guys that you had. Just unbelievable. That just doesn't happen,' " Alstott said. "We had it."
Williams' biggest success did not come in a Bucs uniform. He was the first black quarterback to play in the Super Bowl, leading the Redskins to a 42-10 win over the Broncos in 1988. Then 32, he passed for 340 yards and four touchdowns and was named the game's MVP. He is in the 'Skins Ring of Fame.
"It was a storybook ending for a great career," Glazer said. "Although Doug Williams' time with the Buccaneers ended much too soon, and all Buccaneers fans have lived with this pain ever since … these men literally put Tampa Bay on the sports map."
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In 1998, Williams succeeded the legendary Eddie Robinson as coach at Grambling State and won three conference titles. He said Sam Wyche tried to hire him as an assistant coach, but the Culverhouse ownership vetoed the idea. He turned down a chance to be on Tony Dungy's staff as an offensive quality control assistant.
Finally, Williams rejoined the Bucs as a personnel assistant under Jon Gruden and GM Bruce Allen in 2004. But a rift developed under Mark Dominik, who succeeded Allen as general manager, and he returned to coaching in 2010.
"When Bruce and Jon left, it was a different regime," said Williams, who works in the Redskins front office. "Everybody in this audience knows the regime. It wasn't about what I knew, what I didn't know, as much as the way they wanted to run it. Because it was about friendships. It was about taking care of your buddies. And that happened. I ain't mad at them. You've just got to keep going. The good part about me was I had somewhere to go. I've got somewhere to go now. To come back and get honored, it's a good feeling."