For 14 seasons, Aeneas Williams was a dominate force in the secondary of defenses, whether he was at corner or safety. His career included stints at Arizona and St. Louis.
And now there is one more city that will include the name of Aeneas Williams: Canton.
Williams was announced last week as one of the 7 players that make up the class of 2014 who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The others were Michael Strahan, Derrick Brooks, Ray Guy, Claude Humphrey, and Andre Reed. This was Williams’ fifth year on the HOF ballot, and his chances for induction had increased over the past three seasons.
Drafted in the third round in 1991 by the Phoenix Cardinals, Williams made an impact in the NFL immediately, first by picking off a pass in his first two career games, and eventually tying for the league lead in INT’s for the season. He was later named Named NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year by the NFL Players Association.
From 1992 till 2001 (his first season in St. Louis), Williams started in all 16 games every year, being a model of consistency in the league for well over a decade.
In 1994, Williams set a career high for INT’s with 9, although none were returned for a TD, something he was notable for doing in his legendary career. His next three years were considered to be his best, as overall, he accumulated 18 INT’s, and 5 of them being returned for touchdowns.
He regressed a bit in 1998, only picking off one pass, but still remained a staple of the Cardinals’ defense throughout the season. He improved in 1999 and 2000, picking off a combined seven more passes. While with the Cardinals, Williams made the Pro Bowl six times (1994, ’95, ’96, ’97, ’98, ’99) and was named NFL All-Pro five times (first team in 1995, ’96, ’97, ’01, and second team in 1994).
On Draft day in 2001, in exchange for draft picks, the Cardinals traded Williams’ to the St. Louis Rams, two years’ removed from their only Super Bowl win. It was in St. Louis where Williams made the switch from corner to free safety, something aging corners do more frequently now.
The Rams had one of the league’s worst defenses in 2000, but without a new and improved unit in 2001, the defense thrived. And in 2001, for just the second time in his career, he had made a trip to the postseason, and had his best postseason game against the Packers, when he picked off future Hall of Famer Brett Favre twice, both for touchdowns. Earlier in his career he had also intercepted Hall of Famer Troy Aikman twice in a playoff game. He also recovered a fumble in the game. Unfortunately, in the Super Bowl, the Rams were upset by the New England Patriots 20-17.
After another decent season donning the Rams’ uniform, injuries began to plague him. At the end of the 2005 season, Aeneas Williams’ retired without a press conference after 14 years in the National Football League.
His stats speak for themselves and show how great of a player he was: 55 interceptions, 23 fumble recoveries and 12 defensive touchdowns (9 INT’s returned for TD’s, which is tied for fourth all time). But he was not only known for being a great athlete and leader on the field, but for being an all around great person off the field. Williams is currently the founding pastor of Spirit of the Lord Family Church in St. Louis.
Rams’ fans and Cardinals’ fans alike can enjoy the fact a player of Williams’, arguably one of the best at his position of the past two decades, has been enshrined in an elite class, where the greatest remain forever: the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Congrats, Aeneas Williams. On an amazing career, and for finally being enshrined in the Hall of Fame.