Ex-Pro Bowler Alfred Williams recalls 1989 claim that Mike Gundy called him the N-word in college

Some prodding from Fox Sports’ Shannon Sharpe and the discovery of some old newspaper articles resulted in former NFL defensive end Alfred Williams pulling a hefty skeleton out of embattled Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy’s closet on Wednesday.

During his daily radio show, “Big Al & JoJo” on Denver’s KOA 850 AM & 94.1 FM, Williams reiterated a story about Gundy that he first told reporters in 1989 and hasn’t brought up in the three decades since.

After a game in which Williams’ Colorado team beat Oklahoma State 41-17, Williams said Gundy — then Oklahoma State’s starting quarterback — reacted to a hard hit by calling the future All-Pro the N-word.

Williams’ recollection:

It happened near the end of the game because what happened was, it was a situation — I don’t if it was a sack or just a hard hit — but I know that I was getting off the huddle and he started running off the field and he called me the N-word. So I start running after him, right? I was like, ‘This is not done.’

He said it to me and I couldn’t believe. So we come to the sideline. My coach at the time was Bob Simmons, who was eventually the head football coach at Oklahoma State. He tells me, ‘You’re done for the day.’ I say, ‘Oh no, I’m not done for the day.’ He says, ‘You’re done for the day.’ I just went nuts on the sideline and that was pretty much it.

Williams had discussed the incident with Sharpe in an earlier phone call, which the Fox Sports 1 personality soon relayed on his show “Skip and Shannon: Undisputed.” It was that conversation that caused Williams to discuss a matter he had long ago moved on from.

Gundy denied N-word accusation in 1989

After Sharpe told the story on-air, it didn’t take long for Twitter users to discover old newspaper articles in which Williams, then 21 years old, discussed the incident. Colorado free safety Tim James also accused Gundy of using the word repeatedly.

“I can’t count the number of times he used that word,” James said, per the clip. “He has no class. There’s no place for that in sports.”

Gundy denied the accusation in the same article, saying it wasn’t true and noting half his friends on the team were black.

“Go to Sports Illustrated and you’ll see that Colorado has gone face to face with everything. Rapes, assaults. Everything,” Gundy reportedly said.

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy runs onto the field before an NCAA college football game between Iowa Stateand Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Mike Gundy had praised a far-right network as balanced two months ago. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Gundy apologized for OAN T-shirt after player outcry

Such a story is obviously noteworthy given the current situation in which Gundy finds himself. The coach released a scripted apology video on Tuesday after an outcry from his players over a One America News Network T-shirt and unspecified cultural problems in Stillwater.

Addressing only the T-shirt promoting a far-right network that has called the “Black Lives Matter” movement a farce and worse, Gundy said he was “disgusted” by the network’s stance on the movement and called it “completely unacceptable.”

Gundy had previously praised the network in April, claiming the network was moderate and unopinionated.

“It was so refreshing,” Gundy said on a conference call. “They just report the news. There’s no commentary. There’s no opinions. There’s no left. There’s no right.”

Alfred Williams: ‘Why would I lie?’

In Wednesday’s discussion of the 1989 incident, Williams mentioned that he and his co-host had contemplated discussing it over the last three days while Gundy was making national headlines, but only brought it up after it was mentioned on Fox Sports.

As far as verifying the story, Williams said to talk to his old coach in Simmons. Or any player on the Colorado defense:

All of my teammates that played at the University of Colorado on the defense know exactly what happened. There’s no walking that back. This story’s been out there for 31 years. I don’t know why it came up now. Because he’s wearing an OAN T-shirt? OK, but I’ve never told the story on air because it happened decades ago. But it happened, 100 percent it happened. That’s the only time in my life that that’s ever happened. In my life. I played football a long time. A lot longer than he played football. And that’s the only time it’s ever happened.

Williams would later go on to a nine-year career in the NFL, winning All-Pro honors and two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos. Gundy’s playing career ended when he graduated from Oklahoma State.

As far as those who might disbelieve his story, Williams said he had moved on after it happened, and that he didn’t believe bringing it up now that Gundy is a head coach would do any good:

Why in the world would I lie about something like that? I haven’t even brought that story up on air for just that reason, because I thought it would just do harm to Oklahoma State as a university. I thought it would do harm for all the young men that were part of the program. I said my piece back in 1989 ... I’m 51 years old; why in the world do I need to lie about that?

Even though Williams said he moved on from the incident, that didn’t mean he doesn’t still harbor certain feelings about Gundy:

Every time I see him, I just want to run through him. Every time I see his face, every time I look at him, I want to run through him.

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