Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Roadrunner

Today we feature Green Bay running back Travis WIlliams, nicknamed “the roadrunner.” Williams came to the Packers from Arizona State University to play for the team from 1967-1970. Though he was there a short time, he is remembered fondly by those who watched him play. Unfortunately, he fell on hard times later in life. The following is from his obituary in the New York Times in 1991:

“Travis Williams, who wrestled with homelessness, poverty, and alcohol after setting records as a kick returner with the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League, died of heart failure Sunday. He was 45 years old. Mr. Williams died in Martinez, Calif., near his hometown of Richmond, Calif., after suffering from liver and kidney problems for a long time, said his daughter Marla Williams.

Mr. Williams returned four kickoffs for touchdowns in his rookie season with the Packers in 1967, setting an N.F.L. record that still stands. He returned two in one game that season against the Cleveland Browns to tie a league record. He played four seasons with the Packers. A knee injury prevented him from playing in 1972 and ended his career.

Mr. Williams returned to California and held a series of jobs: collecting junk, driving trucks, working as a bouncer and as a security guard. Marla Williams said her father became increasingly depressed in recent years, and joined the ranks of people living on the streets. Mr. Williams is survived by four sons and four daughters.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. A 49er and Raider fan I am. But I have always mostly been a Packer through and through. I remember seeing my first football game in the 1960's at the old 49er's Kaiser Stadium. That day, the San Francisco 49ers played the Green Bay Packers, and Travis Williams was there. He was amazing and only made my loyalty as a Packer fan grow more deeply. Travis was a great running back. I remember many years later watching a game on TV. Nick Bonaconi had a spot at half time that discussed forgotten NFL players. They talked about Travis Williams. I was sadden to see that he was barely surviving in Martinez California at the time. Now, he has passed on at the young age of 45. It is truly a tragedy. Sometimes it only takes someone with a little heart to make a difference in someones life. I wish someone had had a little more heart for Travis.