Monday, May 15, 2017

Former Packers DE Clarence Williams Dies

Clarence Williams, a starting defensive end for the Green Bay Packers for most of his eight seasons, died May 8.

Williams, 70, played for the Packers from 1970 to 1977. Funeral services were held Saturday, May 13, at Spring Grove Funeral Home in Cincinnati.

Nicknamed “Big Cat,” Williams was, at 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, known for both his size and his quickness. He grew up in Texas, led his high school to a state championship and then went to Prairie View A&M and was an 11th-round draft pick of the Cowboys in 1969. In 1970 he was traded along with Malcolm Walker to the Packers in exchange for Hall of Fame cornerback Herb Adderley. Having lived his entire life in Texas, he didn’t know what to expect.

Williams started the last seven games at left defensive end in his first season with the Packers and held the job through 1976, playing in 107 consecutive games at one point. After filling in at both defensive end and tackle in 1977, Williams was released in training camp in 1978.

In 1972, when the Packers won the NFC Central Division, Williams led them in sacks with nine, although sacks weren’t yet an official statistic. Three of them came in the title-clinching game against Minnesota and future Pro Football Hall of Fame tackle Ron Yary on Dec. 10.

“I’ve been in Green Bay 10 years and I’ve never seen anybody tackle Fran Tarkenton three times in one game,” linebacker Dave Robinson said in the Packers’ locker room at old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minn. “But the Big Cat (Williams’ nickname) did it today.”

In 1975, Williams had a career best 10½ sacks, but he always felt 1972 was his best season.

“I don’t think I had a great year after that year,” he said in a 2004 interview. “I had solid years.”

In all, he played in 111 games for the Packers.

“I just didn’t know much about Green Bay,” Williams recalled years later to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I was a small-town country boy from Texas. I watched Green Bay in the Super Bowls and the Packers-Cowboys games all the time on TV. Green Bay was just so far north, and I hadn’t gone anywhere north in my life. I had no sense of the climate or the town… I saw cornfields and woods on the plane and then went straight to St. Norbert’s [the college where the Packers had training camp]. I was young, 24 or 25, and was just in awe. The weather was so different and there weren’t any black people up there. I couldn’t get a haircut anywhere. All I knew about Green Bay was the football team.”

Williams was a player representative for the Packers during his career. He also made Green Bay home when he left football and served as a defensive coach for St. Norbert College for two years.

From 1988-91, he coached at Southeast Missouri State. He moved to Cincinnati in 1994.

Williams is survived by Icy, his wife of 48 years, and his children Clarence Jr., Cary Leon and Marla Rachelle.

Sources: Pro Football Talk; Green Bay Packers; Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel