‘Public embarrassment’ from gun charge ‘drives’ former NFL Draft pick, DL Tim Williams to revive pro football career with Riders

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

In the early morning hours of Thursday, September 29, 2016, Tim Williams was pulled over by campus police at the University of Alabama.

Williams told the officers he had a gun in the car, assuming the laws were the same in Alabama as his home state of Louisiana. The Baton Rouge native was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for carrying a pistol without a permit.

“In Louisiana when you purchase a firearm, you don’t need a concealed permit paper to put it in your car, your car is an extension of your home in Louisiana. It was on me, I made a mistake, I wasn’t hip to the rules and regulations in Alabama. I got rid of it and took care of it,” Williams explained.

Head coach Nick Saban said, “This kind of behaviour is not condoned in our program,” though it appears to have been an honest error by Williams. The 27-year-old hasn’t forgotten about the “public embarrassment” from it. He was released on a $300 bond and stated on Twitter it was a mistake worth learning from.

The six-foot-three, 244-pound defensive lineman produced the best season of his NCAA career following the incident, recording 31 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, nine sacks, two forced fumbles, two pass knockdowns, and one fumble recovery which accounted for his one touchdown. The Crimson Tide narrowly lost to Clemson University in the National Championship, 35-31.

After being ranked as a top-10 prospect prior to his senior season, Williams faced scrutiny from NFL teams throughout the draft process due to the gun charge. Instead of being a surefire first-round selection, he dropped to the third round when the Baltimore Ravens chose him 78th overall. According to Williams, the San Francisco 49ers straight up told him he was supposed to be drafted high.

“I look back on 2016 as one of the darkest times of my life because I lost $20 million easily,” Williams said due to falling down the board.

“I think about that every day because that’s what drives me, that’s what gives me inspiration to keep going because I know the type of player I am and what I am going to accomplish for sure.”

“That really made me change how I view my life because I got three kids and a wife now. The mentality that I had back then as a 22-year-old going into the NFL is totally different.”

Baltimore wasn’t an ideal defensive scheme fit for Williams because the Ravens wanted him to play tough against the run first and rush the quarterback second. He played 20 games with Baltimore, recording 18 tackles, two sacks, and one fumble recovery and then was waived in October 2019. Green Bay claimed him and he played in one game with the Packers until his release following training camp in September 2020.

“I’d play football in the parking lot right now, that’s how bad I want to play ball,” Williams said.

The Seattle Seahawks signed Williams to the practice squad for three weeks, but for the rest of the season last year and the off-season, Williams was trying to get the chance to impress in a workout with an NFL and earn a contract. Neither opportunity ever materialized, although the Saskatchewan Roughriders had been calling him for months.

“We’ve always known Tim is very explosive and really good football player. He’s really started to excel,” Riders head coach Craig Dickenson said.

“I’m here. This is where my feet at, this is where my mind at, I’m focused on Sask right now,” Williams said. “I’m a pass rusher and this is a passing league, so I’m excited to get after the quarterbacks here.”

Former Alabama teammates, offensive lineman D.J. Pettway and receiver and returner Christion Jones, shared the nuances of the CFL game — three downs, wider field, 12 players per side, one-yard off the ball for defensive lineman, and rouges — with Williams before he travelled north of the border to the Saskatchewan capital.

“A lot of exciting stuff happens in the NFL,” Williams said, “but this here, is really like you can see some stuff up here.”

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.