Steelers News

‘I’m About To Go Out Here And Start A Fight’: Vince Williams Talks Playing The Bully Against Opponents That Wouldn’t ‘Bark Back’

Williams and Spillane sack Tannehill

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ defenses of the 2000s under defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau are rightly held in a certain level of reverence, rivaling perhaps only the teams of the 1970s in terms of team history. Many other eras had their moments, of course. There are Hall of Famers from the 50s. Even many units of the 2010s were quite competitive, especially very early in the decade and then late—with an unfortunate lull in the middle.

One of the hearts of those latter-day units was retired linebacker Vince Williams, often the mouthpiece for the defense, especially toward the end of his career. Recently hopping on with Cameron Heyward on the Not Just Football podcast, he explained what he took his role to be, and who their defense was in the league at that time.

“I had to get everybody going”, he said. “I was like, ‘Guys, I’m about to go out here and start a fight’. I’m gonna go out here and I’m gonna antagonize everybody. Mike [Tomlin], I always used to tell him, ‘We’ve got to punch first’. I’ve got to go out here, I’m gonna hit somebody, I’m gonna make sure it’s chippy so I can get everybody’s energy going and we can be ready for an intense game. It was gonna be intense because we were gonna make it that way”.

With the 2023 Steelers coming out this offseason with the message of establishing the line of scrimmage and imposing their will on teams, and even publicly navigating the correctness of seeking ‘goons’ on the field in today’s game, it seems a fitting time to recall those days.

“That’s the thing. We were the bullies. Usually we didn’t have anybody that really wanted to bark back. It was always just us poking fights and starting fights with people”, Williams recalled. Heyward added, “If you talked mess with one of us you talked mess to all of us. So you might talk a little bit, then it’s like, Vince, Bud [Dupree], T.J. [Watt], everybody talks mess”.

“Even sometimes you’ll get Minkah [Fitzpatrick] to talk, and it’s funny when you get Minkah to talk”.

With the offseason additions of the likes of Elandon Roberts, Keanu Neal Keeanu Benton, and Joey Porter Jr., I think we can gather that the Steelers remain very much interested in playing bully ball in today’s era.

And that’s not just limited to one side of the football. They are rebuilding their trenches along the offensive line, and you already know they have a man in the backfield who will hold his own, on the field or off the field, with anybody in this league in Najee Harris.

Playing the Steelers will not be fun this season. If you beat this team, you will have earned it, physically. With their big, long corners on the field moving forward, even the wide receivers are going to have to fight against press for everything they get. And they’ll hear it every rep they lose—maybe even when they win, too.

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