News Columns & Blogs

Commentary: Williams disagrees with criticism of Cutler

Tyrone Williams retired early enough from the NFL to avoid the foot-in-mouth disease that has afflicted some current players.

When he played his last game in 2004, Twitter was the figment of some genius’ imagination, and players weren’t sitting in the comfort of their living room taking shots at their contemporaries.

A solid cornerback who played in two Super Bowls with the Green Bay Packers, Williams says it wouldn’t have mattered when he played. The Manatee High product doesn’t believe in attacking other players.

Williams was perplexed at how running back Maurice Jones-Drew and retired cornerback turned TV analyst self promoter Deion Sanders unloaded on Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler when he left the NFC Championship Game against the Packers.

It became stylish to blast Cutler for being soft. Williams doesn’t like it, especially looking at some of the critics, who continued to pile on despite a subsequent diagnosis that revealed a damaged knee.

Remember Sanders? The renowned cornerback with his own set of flaws, who missed nearly two seasons because of turf toe!

Man up Cutler, Sanders says. Please show Deion a mirror.

Sanders has publicly stated he avoided making tackles because of what he called a “business decision.”

He was blessed with God-given speed that made him a shutdown corner, but avoided contact as if his opponent carried a contagious life-threatening disease instead of a football.

“I know how tough it is to play in those elements at Soldier Field, and I played in Green Bay when it gets down to 20 below,” Williams said. “Maurice Jones-Drew played in Jacksonville and never played in anything serious; so why is he even commenting on Cutler? I don’t like it all.

“It’s embarrassing to speak that way of another player, especially if you are going up against the owners for a new collective bargaining agreement. I feel personally that Jay Cutler is not a quitter. The guy is a fighter. I watched him all year playing for Chicago in all types of weather.”

No one could dispute Sanders’ athletic ability (his reported 4.1-second time in the 40-yard dash is an all-time NFL best). But he was routinely cited for poor tackling and no factor in run support.

The book on Sanders is “best cover corner/worst tackler.”

This past week, his hypocrisy ran wild.

Sanders Tweeted and told anyone holding a microphone: “I never question a player’s injury, but I do question a player’s heart.”

He continued to pound away at Cutler though Jones-Drew in an anemic excuse said he was joking.

Cutler is a diabetic playing for a team located in one of the worst weather cities in the country and has been sacked a league-high 52 times.

“Deion didn’t want no tackling whatsoever, but you couldn’t throw the ball to his side of the field because of his speed,” Williams said. “Now-a-days guys might miss a tackle, but not to the extreme he did. The game has changed. They are going to force you (cornerbacks) to tackle. I had to teach myself how to tackle, especially at that level. Cornerbacks today know it’s not all about coverage. You’ve got to come up and make a hit.”

Sounds like 43-year-old Deion hung ’em up at the right time.

n n n

No football player in Manatee County football history handled an injustice in a more gentlemanly way than Henry Lawrence.

In 1969, when Manatee High was forced to integrate, Lawrence was benched nearly the entire season and saw a boatload of scholarships to big-time football colleges vanish.

He eventually went to Florida A&M.

But when he was selected a first-round pick in the 1974 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders, Lawrence was told by scouts that teams don’t pay big money to guys who come from small colleges.

Despite his 13-year NFL career, it’s hard to calculate how much money his slight at Manatee High under then head coach Jack Mackie cost him in dollars and prestige.

Lawrence never complained and fought to help keep the peace and things together during that 1969 tumultuous year disregarding race for the ultimate good of everyone.

The two-time Pro Bowler says the only thing he would like from Mackie is an explanation of why he benched him for almost an entire season. It has never come.

n n n

One thing a lot of other longtime followers of Manatee County football would like to see is Eddie Shannon get his due as a contributor to the rich football tradition here.

There were quite a few folks last year who said they were going to try to get him into FHSAA Hall of Fame or honor him in another way, but that movement seemed to have dissipated.

The clock is ticking!