View Full Version : Harry Williams regroups after routine play ends career

06-21-2009, 07:35 PM
(AP) BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The play that redirected Harry Williams' path in life seemed so routine at the time. It was a kickoff in an NFL preseason game in Dallas last August.

Williams, a Jackson-Olin graduate and former standout receiver for Tuskegee, was on the coverage team for the Houston Texans.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound player estimates he's been involved in "hundreds, maybe even thousands" of kickoffs since he began playing football as a 5-year-old in Birmingham.

This time it was different. This time he left the field on a stretcher. This time he left the field for the last time as a football player.

Williams replayed the details of the play Wednesday afternoon while relaxing in a San Antonio hotel room between sessions of working at a youth football camp. He has watched the play from every possible angle to see what actually happened that day. He knows that, in some ways, he's searching for answers that will never come.

"There hasn't been a day go by that I haven't thought about that play," Williams said. "What if this? What if that? It was just a freak accident. A teammate missed the tackle and hit me and I was going for the tackle too. We were full speed going down there and I hit the ground. I didn't feel any pain. I never felt any pain during the whole time. My major thing was getting my feeling back."

"Harry had made this team," Texans head coach Gary Kubiak told the Houston Chronicle a few days after his injury. "To go on that field and see him lying there ... I just thank the good Lord that he's going to be fine. I know we're all disappointed he won't be able to play, but that's not what's most important."

Williams underwent spinal surgery a few days later. He said that doctors took bones from the front and back of his hip to help fuse the cervical spine at levels C-2 through C-4. Surgery was followed by months of strenuous rehab and he still has complications from the injury. Williams said he can't run full speed, his left side is often numb and he's still bothered by sharp pains shooting through his body.

The physical discomforts eventually proved easier to handle than the emotions of a playing career ending much too early.

"I was mad at football for a minute," Williams said. "It hurt me so bad so I tried to get away from it a little bit to see where I wanted to go in life."

His first step was enrolling at Prairie View A&M to finish requirements for an electrical engineering degree. His days in football, Williams figured, were over. But that changed when he stopped by to watch spring practice between classes at Prairie View and quickly learned how much he missed the sport.

His goal now, other than getting his degree, is finding a way into coaching. He's working with the Texans this summer, at least through training camp, and hopes that turns into a full-time position. If not, Prairie View head coach Henry Frazier III has offered Williams a spot on the staff as a graduate assistant.


06-21-2009, 08:14 PM
A very sad situation for Harry to go through, but I wish him the best of luck in college, and as a coach, and I hope he is very successful in that right.

06-21-2009, 09:04 PM
I hope he goes into engineering.
Best of luck Harry... perhaps this redirection happened for a reason

06-21-2009, 09:54 PM
Harry I wish you the best of luck in whatever you choose to do in life.

Best wishes

06-21-2009, 11:53 PM
Harry really busted it to earn a spot on this squad and it's really unfortunate his shot at the pros had to end like it did. I hope the best for him and hope that after he found a way to earn his way onto the squad as a player he finds a way to make a coaching staff.

Best of luck to you Harry!

06-22-2009, 11:12 AM
It's a good thing to see that the Texans are giving him an opportunity to be around the team to learn the nuances of coaching. Even if he doesn't latch on here, he will have a good chance to find employment in the college or HS ranks.

A part-time job at Prairie View while working on his ENGR degree maybe in the card?

Good luck HarryW!

06-22-2009, 12:33 PM
I t was in Dallas? I thought it was here?

Didn't someone else have some career-ending collision in a preseason game? I remember being at the game...I think...

06-22-2009, 12:42 PM
I t was in Dallas? I thought it was here?

Didn't someone else have some career-ending collision in a preseason game? I remember being at the game...I think...

Cedric Killings

06-22-2009, 01:19 PM
It is very unfortunate that his career ended this way. I hope the Texans give an opportunity to get his life back on track, whatever he decides to do.

06-22-2009, 02:06 PM
Cedric Killings

Yes, thank you a DT right?

Definitely remember the sound of the hit and where I was sitting, we all knew it immediately. It was a train wreck. I just remembered it being a kickoff, got he and HW confused.