Feb 12, 2004 - After 21 years, Doug Williams is finally back with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It is a wholly different organization in 2004, to be sure, most significantly to Williams in the area of team ownership, but it is still the team with which he began his very successful NFL career. More than two decades after he finished his five years as the Bucs’ first star quarterback, Williams has returned to serve as a personnel executive for the team.
"This is certainly a great day," said Williams. "I look at a little differently than some people might. They may say this is a great day for the Buccaneers, but I look it as a great day for Doug Williams to be able to come back to where he started."
The Buccaneers will introduce their newest employee and elaborate on his responsibilities at a press conference scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
Tellingly, Williams referred to his once and present employers as 'the Buccaneer family.' Though his departure from the Buccaneers – one he never wanted or expected to make – was one of the least popular moves by the franchise in its history, the episode never lessened his desire to return, a fact some people might find surprising.
"A lot of people try to think for you," he said. "They really don't know how Doug Williams feels. I started my career professionally in Tampa, a place that I've never forgotten. Even the bad times you remember, but there were so many good times. Coming back now just put icing on the cake for me, as far as all the good times. I just want to take my hat off to the Glazer family, Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen for having the insight to give me an opportunity to be a part of something that I think is great.
"To come back says it all, I think. I don't look at it as a 'healing wounds' situation; I look at it as an opportunity for me to be involved with something great."
In addition to its historical relevance for this franchise, it’s reasonable to call the addition of Williams a major coup for the Buccaneers. After all, Williams left his post as the head football coach at Grambling University to come back to Tampa. During his six years at the helm of his alma mater, Williams led the Tigers to three consecutive conference championships (2000-02), and his team was named National Black College Champions each of those seasons. Williams also took home SWAC Coach of the Year honors those three years and was the Street and Smith's Black College Coach of the Year in 2000.
"I certainly thought about the two (jobs)," said Williams, who helped restore the Gambling program to prominence. "I realized that in six years at Grambling State University we've had a pretty good run. I look at it as an opportunity to be able to go back to where you started and to work with people that you have a lot of respect for – that's number one. I've always had a lot of respect for (Head Coach) Jon Gruden, and (General Manager) Bruce Allen obviously knows what he's doing. It's a challenge, a chance to be in a position to learn as much as I can about what goes on with a football team."
Williams, who won a Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins in 1988, played five seasons as a Buccaneer and remains one of the greatest players in franchise history. He still ranks among the team's all-time leaders in touchdown passes with 73 (second), passing yards with 12,648 (third), pass attempts with 1,890 (third) and completions with 895 (fourth). He led the Bucs to playoff appearances in three of his five seasons in Tampa; after his departure, the team followed with 14 consecutive non-winning seasons.
In an era in which African-American quarterbacks were still rare in the National Football League, the Buccaneers selected Williams out of Grambling with their first-round draft pick in 1978. A year later, with Williams at the helm, the Bucs made the playoffs for the first time, winning the NFC Central and advancing to the NFC Championship Game in only their fourth year of existence.
In 1986, Tampa Bay traded the NFL rights to Williams to the Washington Redskins for a 1987 fifth-round pick, which was used on S Tony Mayes, who never saw action in a Buccaneer uniform. The trade followed two seasons for Williams with the Oklahoma Outlaws of the USFL. Williams led the Redskins to a 42-10 victory over Denver in Super Bowl XXII following the 1987 season, and was anointed the game’s MVP after he set or tied several Super Bowl passing records, including most TD passes (4), most yards passing (340), longest pass completion (80 yards) and longest TD pass (80 yards). He was the first black quarterback to ever start a Super Bowl. Williams ended his playing career following the 1989 season with the Redskins.
"Obviously, I was hurt when I left because I thought I would always be a Buccaneer," he said. "But things happen, and if you look at the whole picture of the situation, I was able to leave here and do something that every athlete in professional football would like to do – which Tampa did a year ago – and that's win the Super Bowl."
Williams has gained invaluable experience at many levels, including the start of his college head coaching career at Morehouse College in 1997. He also has previous NFL experience as a scout for Jacksonville in 1995 and as offensive coordinator for the Scottish Claymores of the World League in 1995, and tutored running backs for Navy in 1994. Williams also excelled on the high school level as head coach and athletic director at Point Coupee High School in New Roads, Louisiana in 1991, and in 1993, he was head coach at Northeast High School in his hometown of Zachary, La., where he guided the team to a 13-1 record and the state semifinals.
As Grambling’s quarterback from 1974-77, Williams had a spectacular college career as he passed for more than 8,000 yards and 93 TDs, leading the Tigers to three National Black College National Championships and two SWAC titles. He posted a 36-7 record as a starter and finished fourth in voting for the 1977 Heisman Trophy.
Williams has four children: Ashley, Adrian, Doug, Jr. and Jasmine.