Aeneas Williams, a 14 year NFL veteran, played for both the Cardinals and the Rams. During his tenure in the NFL he became one of the game’s all-time greatest cornerbacks. He recorded 220 tackles, 55 interceptions, 5 forced fumbles, and 9 touchdowns during his career, despite having to play against some of the best wide receivers in NFL history, including Jerry Rice, Cris Carter, and Michael Irvin. He was elected to the Pro-Bowl eight times, and was recently inducted into the Hall Of Fame.
“I allowed my relationship with Christ and the scripture to have an impact on my entire life,” Aeneas, current Pastor of Living Spirit Church, mentioned when asked about his faith. “I would always do everything to the best of my ability.” Aeneas was also known for his leadership on the field, and mentor to young teammates. “I would have a relationship with my teammates where at some points I would have an opportunity, because of how I worked, explain what drove me in my work.”
Here is our interview with Aeneas Williams:
You covered many great receivers in your time in the NFL. Who was the most difficult to cover?
There was not one receiver that was the best. It was just a great group that I played against, three other Hall Of Famers. Michael Irvin, Jerry Rice, Cris Carter, and probably soon to be Marvin Harrison. All of those guys presented different challenges, and I always had to be prepared to compete against them.
Greatest NFL Memory?
Probably the greatest moment was when I realized I could be great at what I was doing. Also, when I overcame fear, and became the NFC Defensive Rookie of The Year. Another time was when I was going into my fourth year as a pro, and my first coach, Joe Bugel was fired. Then Arizona hired Buddy Ryan as the head coach, and Rob Ryan, who would be my defensive backs coach. After he was hired he was going to put the corner back in the island position, which made me scared to resign with the Cardinals. But my wife, Tracy, talked to me when I thought I didn’t want to return back to a Arizona, and asked why. And long story short, it was because of fear. My first three years in the NFL I played primarily played in zone blitzing, so typically as a corner I would have had help. So I wasn’t sure I could, at the NFL level, cover receivers with no help. So we prayed, and realized Arizona was the place God wanted us to remain. After staying with the team, Buddy Ryan said that I was the best corner he had ever coached. Rob Ryan also said that I could lead the league in interceptions and make the All-Pro team. It turned out that that first year, and every year since, I did make the Pro Bowl and also lead the league in interceptions. So my greatest moment in the NFL was learning to overcome fear.
What would you say was your biggest accomplishment from your time in the NFL?
Learning to overcome fear, and as a result, being able to reach my potential.
Do you have any health issues from your 14 years in the league?
No, my body is doing fantastic, however, anybody coming out of the league is going to have aches and pains. I am functionally well, but do have my aches periodically. Personally, staying in great shape, and being active has played huge part of feeling good.
You didn’t start playing football until your junior year in college. What led you to start playing football?
Around my junior year in college, a week before the season started an incident took my heart to walk on the football field. It didn’t matter that it was ridiculous that I was starting to play so close to graduating, I didn’t care who thought I was crazy, or didn’t believe me, I just followed my heart, and ended up starting on the team by the fifth game. I realized God speaks to the heart, but people don’t always listen to it, because sometimes it sounds ridiculous, or maybe embarrassing. But I decided to look foolish and take a chance, and walking on because that’s what I felt in my heart.
Who would you say is the hardest receiver to cover in the NFL today?
Three players come to mind, the younger guys, Calvin Johnson, AJ Green, and Julio Jones.