KUSA—Sylvester Williams was more mature than most NFL players, perhaps because he lived the common working man's life before he became serious about football.
Losses were rare during Williams' tenure in Denver -- the Broncos averaged 11.5 wins a season and made two Super Bowl appearances in his four seasons -- but he held himself accountable in good times and bad.
Williams leaves the Broncos appreciative but with a heavy heart.
The defensive tackle reached an agreement Friday night on a three-year contract with the Tennessee Titans.
“Those four years in Denver meant everything to me,’’ Williams said in a phone interview. “(John) Elway and Kubes (Gary Kubiak) and Bill (Kollar), everything they did for me, it meant so much.
“And then to be able to win and win a ring in the Mile High City, and be part of that legacy of one of the better defenses of all time is something I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. And the fans there were so supportive.’’
The Broncos did try to re-sign Williams to a multiyear deal in recent days, but their money must have been considerable less than what he got from Tennessee. Williams said he offered to come back on a one-year deal but it didn’t work out.
Why the Titans?
“They showed a lot of interest in me and it’s close to home, close to my family,’’ said Williams, a native of Jefferson City, Mo. “The team has a lot of positive energy. It’s on the way up. You’ve got to go where it feels best.’’
The Broncos' first-round draft pick, No. 28 overall, in 2013, Williams knew there was a good chance 2016 would be his final season in Denver when last May the team declined to exercise his $6.757 option for the 2017 season.
“It was heartbreaking because I wanted to be a Denver Bronco for a long time,’’ he said. “That organization speaks for itself. It’s one of the best in the business. Knowing it might be my last year was tough but I wanted to make sure to go out with a bang and win another Super Bowl. We weren’t able to do that and that left a bad taste in my mouth. But I still thank them. When they drafted me in 2013 they changed my life forever. And winning that ring is something nobody can ever take from me.’’
An inspiring story of perseverance, Williams worked at Walmart and a radiator factory after high school before he decided to play football at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. He then transferred to North Carolina, where he played well enough for the Broncos to make him their first-round selection.
He didn’t get his first start until the 13th game of his rookie season, but once there he became a mainstay in the Broncos’ defensive front. He started in two Super Bowls, including Super Bowl 50, when the great Denver defense capped its dominating season that drew comparisons to the 2000 Baltimore Ravens.
He had 6.0 sacks and 94 tackles in his four seasons in Denver. His favorite play?
“I’d have to say my first NFL sack on Phil Rivers would probably be my fave,’’ he said referring to a December 12 game in his rookie 2013 season. “It was my welcome to the NFL moment and it felt so good.’’