Vince Williams Taking Stone-Cold Approach To Year 2 As Starter

Entering his sixth season, inside linebacker Vince Williams is now one of the veterans of the defense for the Pittsburgh Steelers, especially in the wake of the releases of players such as William Gay, James Harrison, Robert Golden, and Mike Mitchell. A 2013 sixth-round draft pick, he is coming off his first season as a full-time starter and heading into his second.

And he’s coming in with a stone-cold attitude. This is Vince Williams we’re talking about here, so you know that I mean that quite literally. The occasionally crazy-eyed linebacker pulled up to Saint Vincent college earlier this week sporting a custom-made Stone Cold Steve Austin-inspired leather vest, while the wrestler’s theme song blasted from his pickup truck.

He was not seen swilling any beers at the time, however, to the best of my knowledge.

But let’s talk about that truck for a moment, because I think it’s really worth it. Thanks to the army of beat writers, we know what it looks like, and it comes off basically as an homage to the deep bond that Williams shares with fellow linebacker Ryan Shazier.

The relationship that those two players share has been documented several times over and so needs no further elaboration now. Despite their relationship, they only got to play together in 13 games. Virtually all of Williams’ previous playing time came as an injury substitute for Shazier since 2014 and through the 2016 season before he inherited a starting job from ironman Lawrence Timmons a season ago.

To work together like that was big for the duo, who dubbed themselves ‘Shake and Bake’, and I’m sure you can guess who provides the shake and who the bake (hint: it’s not Santonio Holmes). The phrase is displayed prominently both on the right rear panel of Williams’ vehicle as well as his license plate, which also features a caricature of the two in football attire. The right passenger door also reads ‘Williams 98:50’, a play on the wrestler’s ‘Austin 3:16’ in which he honors his and Shazier’s jersey numbers.

You might say that Williams feels like he’s playing for two people this year as his dear friend watches from the sidelines, which is why both numbers are on his truck. Shazier has made a tremendous amount of progress since suffering a severe spinal injury in December, but remains a long way off from his goal of returning to the field in pads.

That won’t stop him from watching from the sidelines and helping wherever he can, however, and he has already been spotted doing just that, observing practice alongside the defensive coaches. Shazier and others have talked about the number of hats that he has worn, from coaching to scouting to front-office matters, trying to learn every aspect of the sport as the mental aspect of his rehabilitation.

Williams knows that the best way to honor his friend is the play as hard as he possibly can. He’s taking a stone-cold approach to this season, not just for himself. Not even just for Shazier. The ultimate goal remains a championship. And that’s the bottom line.

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