Erik Williams: Dallas Cowboys Top 10 Ring Of Honor Candidate

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Continuing our ongoing series on the Dallas Cowboys Top 10 Candidates For The Ring Of Honor: I am presenting Erik Williams. I had originally published this piece when I was at Sport DFW. When I started YDCFF my former editor from there, C. Joseph Wright, came on board as the senior editor here. We decided to continue the series. I found it appropriate to re-post this piece along with the other candidates for those who didn’t get to see them the first time. I would like to give a special thanks to former NFL scout,  Bryan Broaddus, who coauthored this piece with me.

ErikWilliams3Erik Williams was born on September 7th 1968. He started out as a dominant defensive lineman at John Martram High School. As a result of poor grades, he wasn’t able to obtain a Division-I scholarship, so he enrolled at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. At CSU they converted him to the offensive left tackle position. They groomed him to become a prolific player at the NAIA level and an All-American.

During his college career he played a major role in the Marauders getting to the NAIA national championship in 1990. Erik Williams helped the offense average 492 yards and 54.8 points per game to set an NAIA record for most points in a singe season with 594. Erik  Williams was inducted into the Central State University Sports Hall of Fame In 2010.

ErikWilliams10Erik Williams, was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the 3rd round of the 1991 NFL Draft (with a choice from the Steve Walsh trade), another brilliant move by Jimmy Johnson. Williams didn’t see much playing time as a rookie, because Nate Newton was playing right tackle. His dominant play during the 1992 training camp forced the Cowboys to move Nate Newton to left guard in order to have all of their best players on the offensive line.

In 1992, after becoming the Cowboy’s starting right tackle, Erik Williams earned the respect of his peers and the fans alike when he held Hall Of Fame defensive lineman Reggie White without a sack in a 20-10 Dallas Cowboys win. He earned  the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week award. From then on he was nicknamed “Big E”and by 1993 his physical, dominant, and aggressive style of play, made him the top offensive lineman in the NFL.

ErikWilliams7Erik Williams got in a serious one-car accident on October 24, 1994, and it caused him to miss most of the 1994 season. (Ironically it’s the year the Cowboys didn’t make the Super Bowl during their 90’s run). It took a long time before he was 100%. He suffered an injured right knee as well as a broken rib, torn ligaments in his left thumb and facial lacerations that needed plastic surgery. An MRI of the knee showed he had two torn ligaments. The MCL (medial collateral) and PC (posterior cruciate) as well as a torn muscle.

Williams returned in 1995. He wasn’t his old self, but he was still good enough to help the team win Super Bowl XXX and earn his 3rd trip to the Pro Bowl. Williams was a three-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler, playing in the 1993, 1996, 1997, and 1999 Pro Bowls. His ability to protect quarterback Troy Aikman and to run-block for running back Emmitt Smith helped the Cowboys win Super Bowls in 1992, 1993 and 1995. From 1992 to 1995, together with Nate Newton, Mark Tuinei, Mark Stepnoski and Larry Allen, he was part of what was arguably the best offensive line in NFL history.

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  • MichaelValentino

    I think what strikes me most about Erik Williams is how well he played against Reggie White. White was the standard for defensive linemen in his era (perhaps of all time). Williams played him straight up from his rookie season. Some will say White was older then, and especially when with GB. White had 70 sacks his first four years in Philly. He also had 29 sacks his final two years in Philly – or during Williams’s first two years in the league.  White in 1991-92 was still better than 95% of the other defensive linemen to ever play the game at their peak. And comparing White from 91-92, and even his first few years in GB, to his 87-88 seasons does not look like a huge drop-off. I think some people have to say that rather than concede that there was a tackle who actually could play against Reggie White. Erik Williams was the most physically dominating tackle I had seen with the possible exception of Anthony Munoz. Munoz was just incredible – strong and perfect technique. No one tops him although Jim Parker is not far behind at LT. Jonathan Ogden might be the no. 3 all-time left tackle. On the right side, Ron Yary and Forrest Gregg get top billing. Jackie Slater was solid for 17 years. But, over a four-year period, no RT was more dominant than Williams. Had he stayed healthy I think he would have eclipsed even Yary and Gregg at RT and would be mentioned in the same breathe with the three incredible left tackles I mentioned. Even with his limited mobility after the car wreck, I still think Williams was good enough for Canton. And, what’s more, he is another story of a guy who turned his life around. He nearly got himself killed. Now he is a committed Christian who is making a difference in the lives of young people. The Big E deserves to be in the ROH.

    • MichaelValentino  You made some excellent points. I still believe that Williams should also be in the HOF. I am yet to see a more dominant RT emerge in the NFL since  he retired.

      • MichaelValentino

        CowgirlCas22 MichaelValentino Reggie White used to club offensive linemen like a polar bear hitting a seal. He even clubbed Larry Allen during LA’s rookie year. I don’t remember ever seeing White do that move on Williams (he may have, I just don’t recall). Williams was just so big, so strong, so unable to get off balance and impossible to bull rush (so was LA). Nate Newton made six Pro Bowls. Mark Tuinei was one of the strongest lifters on the entire team and a tenacious run blocker who turned into a good enough pass blocker to make two Pro Bowls. Stepnoski followed by Donaldson at C – more Pro Bowlers. LA, obviously, was one of the greatest linemen in NFL history. It’s amazing to think of the level of talent on those 90s O-lines. I actually think Williams was as dominating as Allen. They both just mauled guys. Man…..I miss those days!

        • Football Mensa

          Williams was every bit as dominant as Allen. He and Larry had the nastiest dispositions I’ve ever seen on the offensive line.
          White did use the club move. Williams returned the favor. It was game on after that. Williams won.

        • Football Mensa williams just straight up kicked the ass of everyone he faced period!

        • Football Mensa we need some nasty back in the trenches not these wannabe castoffs JJ keeps putting in there. I don’t get it!!!! He knows what he had back then and why they won: why doesn’t he try and duplicate it?

        • Defense 28

          CowgirlCas22 Football Mensa couldn’t have said it any better you definately need nasty on the o line it’s football not tennis. the big e was as nasty as they come should definately be in ring of honor

        • Football Mensa

          Jerry is too busy with his ego.  He is a skill player gm. Jerry knows we need o linemen. He knows the fans want o linemen. He also is arrogant enough not give a damn about what the team needs.

  • Californy

    Eric William to me would of gone down as the NFL best offensive tackle had it not been for that injury he suffered in the accident.  The big E actually owned Reggie White in his NFL career.  I love to see Reggire complain about him, he tried to lable him a dirty player.  You can see the frustration in his face when talking about William, and Reggie was not one to complain.  Eric dominated the NFl  that they actully passed a rule against him.http://sports.outsidethebeltway.com/2008/05/nfl-rules-named-after-players/  It to bad we dont have a player like this anymore one that dominates the NFL and one that get rules passed against him.  Look on the list how many former Dallas Cowboys actually dominated in their play in the NFL.  You would think the NFL had it in for the Cowboys passing all the rules against them.

    • Californy  Thanks for bringing that up. I forgot about that. He is also the reason why defensive linemen started wearing helmets with cages or face shields.

      • MichaelValentino

        CowgirlCas22 Californy I think D-linemen also started wearing body armor because of Williams. just sayin…

        • Football Mensa

          LOL Michael.

  • Californy

    I thought there was another rules passed against Eric I cant find it.  It involve double teaming another player when he is engaged with another blocker,  I think they refer it to the cut block rule but I cant be sure

  • Californy

    I understand player safety but it seem the NFL is taking away the physical part of the game.  I wouldnt doubt in the future they will all be hitting each other with purses on the football field.  I heard the NFL is looking at eliminting Kick off returns as well.  The pro bowl is a joke, I dont think they should play it when they dont allow the player to play defense.

    • Californy I agree 100% on that, they are not allowed to blitz either

    • ChrisG7

      Californy They might as well just hand out flags with the team logo for next year and have them play flag football. 
      As far as the pro bowl goes, yes its a huge joke but they should have every pro-bowl or every other pro-bowl played in LA ti’ll they get a team there!

      • Californy

        I dont even think they should play the  pro Bowl game anymore just honor the player for making the pro bowl in some end of the year banquet.  The best player skip the pro bowl because many are already going to play in the SB.

        • ChrisG7

          Californy The pro-bowl game is worthless but still for a city like Los Angeles where people are football hungry they should do it for the fans.

  • Football Mensa

    Uh Cas could you be a little more guarded with your writing please …….( in order to have all of their best players on the offensive line) < what the hell is that supposed to mean ?……Ya I know…you’re hoping Jason reads this

    • Football Mensa the problem is JG doesn’t have the problem Jimmy did with too much depth on the OL Smith is the only real  starter we have!

      • Football Mensa

        Cas funny thing about that o line. Nate and Tuinei along with Gogan weren’t highly regarded as players. Coaching had a lot to do with that o line. Then the addition of Erik , Larry and Step. However I will always contend Step was the beneficiary of great guard play.

        • Football Mensa Troy Aikman would disagree, he talked about the importance of a dominant center several times during Cowboys games he commentated

        • Football Mensa

          Cas I will email you about a little something about Step off the record of course if you know what I mean. Either today or tomorrow.

        • MichaelValentino

          Football Mensa Hudson Houck did a great job with those guys in the 90s. He didn’t do so well during his 2nd stint in Dallas. Then again, he didn’t have the same players. But in the 90s, he did extract the most out of those guys, especially Tui and Newton and Gogan. LA and the  Big E would’ve mauled people no matter who was coaching them…those guys were just animals.

      • MichaelValentino

        CowgirlCas22 Football Mensa I *hope* Frederick becomes a legitimate starter but right now, you’re right, we have ONE starter on this line – Smith. The other guys are just decent at best. Back to the 90s teams, I’m not even sure Tyron Smith would win a starting job on that team. No way he’d beat out Williams on the right side, and the way Mark Tuinei turned out to be a solid tackle for years protecting Troy’s blind side, I’m not sure Smith would beat out Tuinei. Smith would’ve made a nice swing tackle on those teams. The other guys? They probably wouldn’t have made it out of camp. Maybe Frederick would’ve made the team but no one else.

        • Football Mensa

          No way Smith beats out Williams or Tuinei. Only Smith from this team would make the 90’s team. Frederick wouldn’t haven’t been drafted.

        • Football Mensa Smith would be a backup on that team lol

        • I agree no way Jimmy would have drafted Frederick, especially in the 1st round.

      • Californy

        I think I saw someone ranking Smith 20th best LT in the NFL.  I think the ranking is fair considering we were 31th best in rushing last year and he was tied for 2rd in the NFL in penalties almost 2 years in a row. A 20th ranking is bellow avergae left tackles.  It no wonder this offensive line rank 22th best in the NFL.

  • Defense 28

    these guys aren’t even good enough to be back ups on the 90’s team they belong in football europe at best

    • MichaelValentino

      Defense 28 football europe.  good one! haha

  • Wade Miller

    test
    great article cass

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