How Chris Williams ended up with the B.C. Lions

Chris Williams nearly chose to play on the Left coast the first time around as a CFL free agent.

Back in 2015, after two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with Hamilton earned him stints with the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears, the diminutive playmaker inked a deal with Ottawa, but B.C. finished a close second. So when Williams hit the open market in February 2017, the Lions were a team he already felt comfortable with. A few teams were interested in the five-foot-nine, 155-pound speedster, but when it came down to making a final decision it was between B.C. and Toronto.

“B.C. had a lot going for them. They’re already a really good team and have people I’ve worked with in the past in Khari [Jones] and coach [Marcel] Bellefeulle, then you’ve got the legend Wally [Buono],” Williams says.

With players like Emmanuel Arceneaux, Bryan Burnhan, Chris Rainey and Jeremiah Johnson, Williams knew he wouldn’t be the main focal point for defences. The Lions had a similar skill group – proven quarterbacks and receivers especially – to what was around him in Ottawa.

As for the Argos, Williams liked the fact Tommy Condell was with the double blue.

“He’s got a great reputation for his offensive mind and how he works.”

However, without a head coach or general manager that made it difficult for Williams.

“You want to ask questions about where the team is going and where they’re headed and they couldn’t answer those at that time. Toronto, not saying they didn’t have a quarterback, but they were unsure of who they were going to go with. For my talents I don’t know if playing with those guys would’ve been as good as playing with Jonathan [Jennings] and Travis [Lulay],” Williams explains.

“In hindsight, they got [Marc] Trestman and [Jim] Popp in there, I played for Trestman before in Chicago so that would’ve been interesting had it gone the other way. But I’m very comfortable being in B.C.”

Signing a two-year deal with the Lions meant leaving Ottawa after the Redblacks won the 2016 Grey Cup.

“With me getting hurt [suffering a torn ACL last October], it was an awkward time because I had played so well and then got hurt, so there was an unknown,” Williams says. “They signed Kenny [Shaw] and Diontae [Spencer] and you pretty much knew Ernest [Jackson] and I weren’t going to come back.”

Ottawa moved on, as did Williams.

“That’s the business, that’s just how it works – it wasn’t anything personal. I very much enjoyed my time there and I have very much love for the organization. They treated me extremely well while I was there.”

So well, in fact, that Williams, who was awake for the surgery, had his knee repaired in the nation’s capital and did the first month of his rehab there, which he’s continued to progress on during the off-season.

“I’m doing a lot of stuff – running, jumping, cutting. It’s about getting the strength back into it so I can handle a full season,” Williams says. “We’re approaching [top speed level].”

Williams doesn’t see any reason why he won’t be ready for the regular season. And his new quarterback, Jennings, believes when the explosive playmaker hits the field he’ll be dangerous and could spring for huge plays at any moment.

“You can’t guard that type of guy one-on-one and if you get put in that situation we’ll make you pay,” BC’s young, budding star pivot says. “Our offence is loaded – we’ve got a lot of threats.”

Justin Dunk

Justin Dunk

Justin Dunk was a five-year starter at quarterback for the University of Guelph. He covers the league for Sportsnet and 3DownNation.
Justin Dunk
Justin Dunk
About Justin Dunk (753 Articles)
Justin Dunk was a five-year starter at quarterback for the University of Guelph. He covers the league for Sportsnet and 3DownNation.

10 Comments on How Chris Williams ended up with the B.C. Lions

  1. Pussycats // April 4, 2017 at 4:29 pm //

    Noticed Williams remark about Tommy Condell, “He’s got a great reputation for his offensive mind and how he works.” Guess there just wasn’t enough room in Hamilton for 2 great offensive minds. LOL

  2. mrnehnehincognito // April 4, 2017 at 11:12 pm //

    BC Receiving is scary good this year

    • Still have to get them the ball. Have to see how good there o-line will be now that the spent all there money on receivers.

  3. Yes Williams had a brief stint in the NFL, New Orleans let him go. He had limited playing time in Chicago, mostly running back punts and KO’s. So he decided to try the CFL again in 2016. He didn’t really show much, on punt returns, he was contained effectively, all the time. He had a great start of the 2016 season, but Redblacks QB’s were switching, due to injuries. He has tremendous route running, but at times, he would drop the most simple and easiest catches? I remember when he, did play for Hamilton, he got cocky, one time and returned a punt back for a TD, and he tried running it in backwards (hot dog style) and was tackled on the 5 yard line. He held out for more money in 2013, and sat out that season, and did not play. He now is recovering from an ACL injury, from late 2016 with Ottawa. Will he heal quickly? Will he still have that blazing speed? Time will tell, that’s the chance B.C. took by signing him for 2017.

    • Philski // April 7, 2017 at 3:27 am //

      Agree. I was at that game which was played at the old Ivor Wynne. TC’s were playing Montreal and as you said Williams decided to “hot dog” it backwards and got tackled on he 5. Never cared for him then…and certainly never cared for him after when he literally breached a legal contract by pretending to play stupid (perhaps it wasn’t “pretend”) with the deal he signed. That left the TCs in a deep hole for the entire season at punt and kick off return and one could argue was a contributing factor to the 2013 GC blowout against the Riders. Sorry Wally, can’t cheer for the Lions with that guy on your team.

      • The same contract that is no longer legal in the CFL, for all teams, as a result of William’s court win.Savvy of Williams,just like his football prowess.

        • Philski // April 7, 2017 at 9:59 pm //

          But he was the only CFL player to use that loophole, savvy or not. It’s a business, yes. But when a team comes along and basically pulls you off the scrap heap when nobody else wants you there is a certain gratitude you should display. You don’t screw your team at the 12th hour and disappear somewhere like Houdini and forego any communication with the team. Play out your final year, like you intended at the beginning, and then search for your pot of gold without torching the bridge behind you. The “hot dog” antics vs Montreal was only foreshadowing for a more selfish display of character at a later date.

  4. Chris Williams would have been a superlative Cat.There is an undercurrent history of treating receivers poorly in Hamilton.

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