I don’t know that there are too many players throughout recent Pittsburgh Steelers history that have been easier to root for than veteran inside linebacker Vince Williams. Troy Polamalu, maybe? People of that ilk? That’s about it. When you play the game in a manner that embodies what is associated with ‘Steelers Football’, especially on the defensive side of the ball, and you have the mindset to back it up, you are going to be embraced by Steeler Nation.
And he has. And perhaps it wasn’t a coincidence, according to Bryant McFadden, who recently relayed an anecdote about a young Vince Williams just entering high school, who just so happened to have the opportunity to work out and train with the Steelers of that time, during an interview yesterday on The Fan Morning Show.
I knew Vince Williams when he was in high school, as a freshman, as an eighth-grader. Vince, it’s funny. As a coincidence, he worked out in Orlando. Me, Ike Taylor, James Farrior, William Gay, Ricardo Colclough. We worked out with Vince Williams as a youngster, and he had a back big as a deep freezer at that time. He was just a muscle-bound kid from eighth grade on throughout high school. He worked out with us, so he heard about the stories. He listened to Steelers stories as a youngster. He saw how we went about our business and motivated and competed against each other in holding each other accountable. So that has transitioned into his professional career.
I feel like I was destined to be in the Black & Gold. https://t.co/ui52gLMes4
— Vince Williams (@VinnyVidiVici98) November 17, 2020
At this point, we’re talking about the mid-2000s. That’s nearly a decade before the Steelers actually drafted him in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. From the outside, he was viewed as somebody who was likely on the bubble to make the team.
He not only did that, but, because of an injury to Larry Foote in the opener, he ended up playing extensively that season. While they drafted Ryan Shazier the following year, he would bide his time, and has been a primary starter for most of the past four seasons.
“I feel like I was destined to be in the Black & Gold”, Williams wrote on Twitter in retweeting the clip from 93.7 The Fan with McFadden relaying the anecdote about those workouts. The way that he plays—the way that he has always played—does feel tailor-made to Steelers football, even if it is a style that at seems feels like a dinosaur with the way the game is changing.
In 2020, Williams has 49 tackles, including 14 for loss, which is the second-most in the NFL. He has also recorded three sacks, which has put him over 20 for his career, and has one fumble recovered as well. His 441 snaps played represented 76 percent of the Steelers’ defensive snaps, the highest snap share in a single season of his career to date. Oh, and they just so happen to be 9-0 with one of the top-ranked defenses in the NFL.