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Doug Williams Was Almost In Oakland Until Joe Gibbs Made A Gut Decision


The Washington Redskins almost didn't have quarterback Doug Williams for that magical 1987 season.

"Well I had been traded," Williams told ESPN 980. "We had played a preseason game in L.A. against the Rams and came home and flew here overnight. When the plane landed I got off and [general manager] Bobby [Beathard] and [head coach] Joe [Gibbs] were down at the bottom of the plane saying hey we just made a deal with the Oakland Raiders. I was ecstatic because I knew [quarterback] Jay [Schroeder] wanted to start, and I had a chance to go to Oakland, which played the type of ball that I would have loved to have played even here."

The deal, in principle, was done. Williams was signed, sealed and delivered to the Raiders.

Or was he?

"[Gibbs] said 'Meet me in the office at 11:30 and we'll talk about it,'" Williams said. "I sat around the office I had called everyone in my home town and packed my bags and I didn't have anything in my apartment except for a couple of bags and I was ready to go. When I was sitting there waiting on him, his secretary Barbara said he'll be there in a minute so when he came in I went in and coach looked at me and said, 'Douglas, I changed my mind.' I looked at him and said, 'Coach you can't change your mind.' That was the first time I've ever seen him get mad. He looked at me and said, 'I don't work for [the] Raiders, I work for the Washington Redskins.' I sat back in my chair, and after that he started talking and told me that, 'I got a gut feeling that somewhere along this season you are going to come in here and we are going to win this thing.' At that time those words didn't mean anything to me. We were talking about the end of the season I'm talking about now, and after that I left his office and didn't say another word and just prepared and got ready to go if my number was called."

It's good that Williams stayed focused despite everything that went on, because tthroughout the season they'd need him to bail them out on quite a few occasions.

"In the first game of the season, [Jay] Schroeder got hurt, and I came in and beat the [Philadelphia] Eagles, and the last game of the season against Minnesota [Vikings], I came in, and we came from behind and won the game," Williams said. "Joe went into the post-game and said, 'Doug Williams is going to be my starter going into the playoffs,' and the rest is history. I walked off the field and walked straight in there, and Joe hugged me and he said, 'Hey I told you.'"

"I believe in Joe Gibbs," Williams exclaimed.

That belief that Williams had in Gibbs, throughout the most trying circumstances, paid off for everyone in the organization, as they captured the second of their three Super Bowl titles that season with their 42-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII. Williams was magnificent that day, earning Super Bowl MVP honors after completing 18-of-29 passes for 340 yards and four touchdowns (all in the second quarter).




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