Doug Williams: 'George Floyd will be remembered for the rest of our lives'

Ryan Homler
NBC Sports Washington

Doug Williams made history as the first Black quarterback to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, and the first to win a Super Bowl. Yet despite the success he had and the barriers he broke, Williams is no stranger when it comes to experiencing the social injustice and systemic racism that has plagued America for centuries.

The former Redskins quarterback and current senior vice president of player personnel shared moments of his life that have taught him a great deal about the current climate of the country with ESPN's John Keim. From his childhood to the NFL to raising a family, the social unrest that has stemmed from the murder of George Floyd in recent weeks is similar to what he's seen his whole life.

"When I see what's going on today, there's no one thing you can point to, but I think about this: I'm old enough to have been here during the Civil Rights time -- '65, '67, '68," Williams said.

"You just remember them. You go back to that, to where we are today. That's [56] years and we're still doing this," Williams said, talking about the deaths of Emmett Till and others.

Williams has dealt with numerous hardships in his life due to the systemic racism that exists, but those tough moments have also transformed him into the person he is today. Even further, it's allowed him to pass on strong messages of value and perseverance to his family. Recently, Williams received a message from his son D.J. that showed him just how instrumental he was in instilling confidence in the next generation.

"You raised a strong black man! You created America's worst nightmare. A SMART, EDUCATED, AMBITIOUS, BLACK MAN with great character. Thanks for that Pops. I can't even begin to imagine the things you went through coming from seeing crosses burning and just your ride as a black man and a black player in this country. Love you Pops. I'm a product of you and that's what I am most proud of my brother," the message said.

"We always have had a great relationship, talking about life and how to handle situations. When he was driving back and forth to Grambling [where he went to college and played football], I used to tell him, 'If you get stopped, be compliant. You've got to get out and say, 'Yes, sir.' He was going through Mississippi and a few country towns. Don't be argumentative," Williams said. "He would always say, 'Don't worry about me.' But I had to worry, because he's black and he's driving by himself through little towns."

"And then to get that note? It says a lot about him and what he thinks of me. It made me feel like I'd done a decent job. He wanted me to know the impact I had on his life, that I raised a smart, educated, ambitious black man. As an older black man, that's pretty good. Yeah, from an emotional standpoint he brought something out of me."

Despite history repeating itself in 2020, Williams noted that he does believe this time of protest and change in America will be different than before. The murder of George Floyd comes at a time where Williams believes players -- and the younger generation as a whole -- are more committed and equipped to speak out and demand change.


In the weeks following Floyd's death, athletes and others in the country and beyond have come together to voice concerns and demonstrate that the time for something to be done is now.

"I told my wife this morning [June 8] that George Floyd will be remembered for the rest of our lives," Williams said. "Out of all the Tamir Rices and Trayvon Martins, all the other blacks that were brutally killed in the arms of the police or what have you, George Floyd will stand out the most because we're not just talking about the United States protesting, we're talking about the world."

As the movement continues on, Williams hopes that the experiences he's seen throughout his life will not continue in the future. Rather than just being another teachable moment, it should be a turning point.

"It shows you how important race relations are, because so many came out upon this situation. That says a lot about a lot of people in this country, how important changing the culture is in the United States, which is supposed to be the strongest and the biggest," Williams said. "Everyone should look up to the United States and now people are looking down on us."

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Doug Williams: 'George Floyd will be remembered for the rest of our lives' originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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