MINNEAPOLIS - Kevin Williams thought he was in Minnesota to do game day promotions for the Vikings’ 2021 season. It turns out, that was partially true.
Williams, a defensive tackle for 11 seasons in Minnesota, got his first look at TCO Performance Center this week with a full tour of the new facility. He was ushered into a team meeting room, and there stood Vikings’ owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, and General Manager Rick Spielman, with Williams on the video wall.
They gave him a brief speech before surprising him with the news that he was the 26th member of the Vikings Ring of Honor.
"I’m still in total surprise and in awe of this honor. They popped on the video board on told me what’s going on. I’m still kind of in a fairy tale, I can’t believe it. I’m still shocked," Williams said.
"We are so proud to have Kevin Williams take his place in the Vikings Ring of Honor this fall," Vikings Owner and Chairman Zygi Wilf said in a statement. "He was one of the greatest defensive players in team history, and he very much deserves this honor."
Williams also got to address the team, with coach Mike Zimmer alongside, after the second day of mandatory minicamp in Eagan.
"I just talked to them about how Minnesota raised me. I came out of college, 21 years old, a young man and I spent 11 years here. My heart still roots for the purple every time they play,’ Williams said. "The Wilfs are doing a great job, they have awesome facilities and he’s really backing his team and trying to get these guys the pieces that they need to be successful."
The Vikings drafted Williams No. 9 overall out of Oklahoma State in the 2003 NFL Draft. He made 177 starts, including the playoffs, over 11 seasons. He played with Seattle in 2014 and started in the Super Bowl. He made 202 starts in 212 career games.
"I wanted to make sure I was available every game and to show up every game ready to go and ready to play. If guys see me doing that from Year 1 to Year 11, maybe there’s fire there. This guy is busting his butt doing it the right way, and that’s someone I can follow," Williams said.
Williams was named Associated Press First Team All-Pro five times, was named to the NFL’s Team of the Decade of the 2000s and was selected to six Pro Bowls, tied for second in team history with John Randle. His 60 career sacks is behind only Randle and Alan Page, and is tied for the franchise record with four defensive touchdowns.
He helped lead a unit that led the NFL in rushing defense three straight seasons.
Williams told a funny story about picking the No. 93 jersey before the start of his rookie season. He came to the Vikings not knowing much about the franchise, unaware that the number previously belonged to Randle.
"Not knowing any better I picked 93, not knowing John Randle wore the number. Once I got here and realized I picked 93, it was like ‘Kid, you know you can’t be a bust right?’ That’s the kind of pressure I put on myself," Williams said.
So what’s he up to these days? Williams is a full-time dad, down about 30 points and coaching whatever sport his kids are playing.
One day, Williams could get a call for the NFL Hall of Fame. But that’s for another day.
"The Hall would be awesome if that call is made, but I played the game and played it because I loved it. It was my job. I didn’t play for any recognition. I just played because I loved it and I was good at it. All the recognition stuff is just a bonus part of it," Williams said.