The start of their careers were 37 years apart. The colors they wore were different. They played in different stadiums.
But, yes, there is some of Jameis Winston in the legacy of Doug Williams.
Williams, who will be inducted into the Bucs’ Ring of Honor on Sunday, was also a tall, lanky quarterback who absorbed more punishment than he evaded. Like Winston, Williams was a clear leader in the clubhouse. Like Winston, there wasn’t a lot of winning in the time before he came.
Perhaps that is why Williams can look at Winston with some appreciation.
“The way I look at Jameis – and a lot of people can look at him any way [they want] – I look at him [as] a young guy that has proved that where he was picked was worthy,” Williams said Thursday. “I think what he has done on the field, what he has done in college on the field and what he has done now proves it. You’re talking about a guy who’s ate up with football. He’s a junkie. We know he’s smart, we know he enjoys it, and I can see why people I talk with say every team he has been on his teammates would follow him to the end of the world.
“I think he brings that same kind of situation to the Buccaneers at this time. I would like to think what Jameis has brung to the Buccaneers now, I would like to think that I did the same thing when I was there.”
Williams was 33-33-1 in his five years with the Bucs, and he won only five more regular season games. But he also went 3-0 in the 1987 playoffs and won Super Bowl XXII as the MVP.
But playing for the Bucs wasn’t always easy.
“Well, let me say this: I was raised in the South. It wasn’t a learning curve for me,” Williams said. “I understood it. I tell people all the time, when I was 10, 11 years old I saw a cross burning every Friday night.
“So it wasn’t nothing for me. I understood what I was up against, I understood what I had to deal with. But at the end of the day it wasn’t about that part of life for me as much as the opportunity that I was given from the Buccaneers, Coach [John] McKay and Ken Herock, Coach [Joe] Gibbs. Those guys are the ones who paved the way and made that opportunity come true.”
Williams was asked if he identified more with being a Buc than being a Redskin.
“Well I think we’ve got to look at it realistically,” Winston said. “I started in Tampa, but from that standpoint you want the organization to put their arms around you. And I didn’t know after those five years was up, that Tampa Bay put their arms around me. The franchise – I’m not talking about the people who cheered for Doug Williams, who were pulling for Doug Williams. I’m talking about the administrative side of it. And coming [to Washington], I was treated a whole lot differently and looked at from a different perspective.
“I think the difference was you had an organization that had been in existence for a long time. I walked in and walked into Bobby Mitchell‘s office, who was the assistant general manager at that time. A lot of times, people don’t understand how important it is to be able to have people in place, and I’m talking about the standpoint of having African-Americans in high places when you have a bunch of guys on the team that they can identify with.”