The Redskins left tackle and five-time Pro Bowler is a team captain and model of stability on the offensive line, which has developed steadily over the last couple of years. *
Before a recent practice at the team facility, Trent Williams talked about keeping up with the news, being a leader and the advice he gives himself every day. *
How are you feeling about the situation in Houston?
Man, it's tragic. Something you can't control. It's just one of those deals where everybody has to come together and do their best for relief efforts to help expedite the recovery situation.
Have you checked in with your training center O Athletik?
I did. As of right now, there's no damage to O Athletik, our parking lot was pretty dry but the streets leading into it were under water.
Have you been able to talk to people down there?
Yeah, I talked to a bunch of people I know. Everybody seems to be doing OK. They just issued an evacuation for my neighborhood, so we'll see what that means.
How did you feel your training camp experience was this year?
It was the same. A good experience. A good time for team bonding. We got a lot accomplished.
How do you keep it from getting boring? **
Well you're pretty busy all day, every day. So you don't really have time to get bored. You get back to your room at 9:30-10:30, then you've got to be right back to the facility. All the free time you get is probably used to recover and rest.
You've talked about your vegan diet, are you still keeping that up?
[Laughing] Plead the fifth. No, I had to make some changes. I've still got some of the same vegan qualities.
So you're still health conscious.
Yeah, it was a trial run for me.
What was the biggest takeaway from that experience?
Just how good it feels for your body when you put the right things into it.
What was your general reaction to the Charlottesville news near the end of camp?
It was a sad situation. Issues boiled over, unfortunately people lost their lives and people got hurt…It's America, you've got people protesting anything and everything these days. You never want to see anybody lose their life behind it.
Do you follow the news a lot?
I don't have time. Not yet, anyways. I guess when I start getting some more free time probably. But I watch ESPN and NFL Network.
Do you feel like you need to watch it with so many events happening every day?
With social media now, it's basically like a news outlet, so you get all the headlines without even having to turn on the TV. You say watch the news, no I don't watch CNN, but it's pretty easy to keep up with events that are happening.
You use Twitter, but you don't tweet a lot.
Why is that?
Twitter can be a positive outlet and it can be a place where a lot of people lose their cool. Once you put it out there you can't get it back. I'm not saying that's the reason I don't use it, but I put a lot into it.
Have you just seen those issues happen to others?
Yeah I just learned from other people.
Do you feel like you're an optimist about society?
I try to be. Being a pessimist doesn't really do you any justice in trying to move forward in life and trying to make things better. I try to take an optimistic approach. It's not always the case, but as much as possible.
When you went through your suspension last year, did it challenge that mindset?
Yeah, it was challenging.
In what way?
It was something I had to go through that I didn't necessarily felt like it should have happened. You try to stay positive through that.
Check out these photos of the Redskins' offense preparing for their Week 1 game against the Philadelphia Eagles Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
How did you stay positive?**
Just standing around the team, standing around the guys. They did a good job and they helped me out a lot.
When your leadership was questioned by the outside, did you feel like that was fair?
That's life. The thing about it is, as long as the guys in the locker room weren't questioning it, it's really all that matters. That's who you set out to lead, that's who you set out to influence. Everybody on the outside can question all they want but it really has no bearing on me until you step between these doors.
Did you feel like you were always someone who could lead a group of men?
No, I didn't. A lot of people say natural-born leader. I probably wouldn't be in that category. If you think about it, the characteristics of a natural-born leader, I just haven't always been that talker, a guy that likes to be the center of attention. In that sense, no. In the sense of me being able to relate to people, and me being able to uplift guys and try to help people stay positive, I think in that way.
When did you feel like that started?
Coach [Mike] Shanahan did a lot for me when I first got into the NFL. Guys really don't follow words, they follow actions. That's why you tend to see, more often than not, the captains of the team usually have the play to back it up. With the NFL being such a revolving door, people who do tend to stick around are the people who put out a relatively good product on the field. I think that has a direct correlation to leadership. That's only half the battle. Being able to relate to your teammates, being able to gain their trust.
As an offensive lineman, do you think of yourself as a protector? Is that the mentality you have?
Protector? I guess you could say that. I feel like we're more of a special-ops unit, like infantry. We all work as a group and our success, the team's success, the offense's success, it directly correlates to how we do, how well we play together.
Do you know a lot about special-ops units?
No. Watching movies. Special-ops, S.W.A.T. team, Seal Team 6, you call in a group of guys to come get a job done, nobody does it singlehandedly. I feel like that more so how we come in, we come in as a group with a lot of camaraderie, really cohesive and our success really hinges on that, being able to play together and understand each other and to have that bond.
I have to say, I'm still amazed at your Silverback gorilla back tattoo.
What's the origin of that nickname?
It just came at school, man.
So how did that come about?
It's a lot of ways, the attitude, kind of, for the most part, laid back, just real chill, and when the time is needed, switch the flip on. Do what's needed.
How long did it take to get that tattoo?
12 hours. It was broken up into two sessions, seven and five.
What do you do for all that time?
Shoot, there ain't much you can do. It sucks.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
I think a piece of advice I tell myself every day is control what you can control. And what you can't control, don't let it worry you. A lot of people worry themselves with things that's so far out of their control you can't really do nothing about it.
Is there an example of how that manifests for you?
Just everyday life. You ask me about watching the news, a lot of people sit and watch the news and get terrified of what's going on in the world and what decision are being made. You can't control any of that.
Kind of like the flooding in Houston.**
Right. Mother Nature nobody can control. That's different, life-threatening stuff.
I noticed the other day at practice offensive line coach Bill Callahan took you guys onto the side field so you couldn't listen to music during drills.
Is that the worst part of his drills?
Yeah, he's the reason the music really wasn't playing in the beginning of practice.
Because you like playing DJ, right?
I ain't gonna say I like playing DJ, but music really does help get through the monotony of practice and helps keep the juices flowing, so having the music around does help. But Coach Callahan does a lot of talking and teaching. He hates having to talk over the music, so that's why he's against it.
So you just have to negotiate.
The only thing that's being negotiated is, if he don't want it, he don't want it.
As you prepare for the season opener against the Eagles, is it cliché for you to say you're ready? Is there any apprehension or extreme confidence in yourself as you approach the start?
I don't think apprehension would be the right word. You're kind of a little nervous just because it's the first game of the year. These blows really count. You don't want to take a loss. I mean, there's a lot of stuff going into it. You're not certain. You know how you want the season to go, and no one's certain how high it will go. You don't know, man, there's a lot of uncertainty, there's a lot of optimism, there's a lot of nervous energy. I feel like this is the longest part of the year, if you include the four preseason games, and you have a few more days all the way until this game.
How do you get through that to stay sharp?
There ain't really much you can do, that's why it seems so long.
Is the experience of walking through the tunnel still a thrill for you?
It's always a thrill, anytime you go through that tunnel. The season opener, everybody is so amped up for it, you've got literally months and months to look forward to what games have got to be played on the schedule. Open up with a divisional opponent, who we've had some battles with, always adds a little more to the opening night factor.