Green Bay Packers: 23 days to football – Travis Williams

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Travis Williams

If there was a player who got me hooked on football, it was Travis Williams. I loved the story about Lombardi forcing him to carry the football around with him everywhere he went to help solve his fumbling issues; I loved watching his dynamic style of running and his speed.

“The Roadrunner” was one of those players, like Willie Wood, who inspired the football fan. You didn’t even have to be a fan of the Packers to like what Williams brought to the game.

Unfortunately, Williams’ fall from football and life was nearly as fast as his meteoric ascension.

Maxymuk describes Williams’ story:

"Williams was a solidly packed 6-1 210-pound running back who could run the 100 in 9.3 seconds, but arrived in Green Bay as a raw fourth round draft choice. The first time he hd ever carried a football was as a freshman at Contra Costa Junior College. He transferred to Arizona State and spent two uneventful years there. Travis found little to do as a reserve running back in the first half of the year, but it wasn’t until the seventh game of the year against the Cardinals on Oct. 30 that he was given a chance as a deep man on the kickoff return team. In that game he gave a glimpse of his spectacular ability by taking a kickoff right up the middle for a 93-yard TD. Two weeks later he returned two first quarter kickoffs by the Browns for touchdowns of 87 and 85 yards. In the next to last game of the year, Travis dropped back four yards deep in his end zone to receive a kick and went 104 yards with it to score his record-setting fourth touchdown of the year His 41.1 yard average led the league in kickoff returns that year. Whether it was because of the departure of Lombardi, the overall decline of the team or personal reasons, Williams never realized the potential he had shown in his first yer. In his second seson, Travis’s kick return average dropped in half to 21.4 and his yards per-carry from scrimmage went from 5.4 yards to 1.9. He rebounded a bit in 1969; he declined again in 1970 and was traded to the Rams. In his only year in Los Angeles, he again led the league in kick returns with a 29.7 yard average and scored for a sixth time. In an exhibition game in 1972 he blew out his knee and never played pro football again. He never planned on a life beyond football, so that when his career abruptly ended there was little money saved, but a lot of mouths to feed. He worked as a security guard, a truck driver, and a bouncer, but it was never sufficient. The family lost the house, and Travis started to drink heavily. In 1979 he found another man with his wife and assaulted him. Travis ended up in county jail for a year. His wife joined him later that year when she hit and killed a man while driving drunk, and their children went to live with grandparents. In 1985 Travis’s wife died from a drug  overdose and his mother died from colon cancer. A few months later his sister died from an alchohol-related illness. In the face of this much suffering, Travis ended up homeless on the street, in deteriorating health, drinking heavily. He died of heart failure in 1991 at the age of 45 without a dime in his pocket In March 1997 he was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame."

Here are Travis Williams’ career statistics:

Here is the list of Packers players who wore #23 since 1950:

From To AV
Roosevelt Blackmon 1998 1998 0
Jim Capuzzi 1955 1955 0
Chuck Clanton 1985 1985 0
Matthew Dorsett 1995 1995 1
Johnathan Franklin 2013 2013 1
Darrien Gordon 2002 2002 0
Tiger Greene 1986 1990 13
Maurice Harvey 1981 1983 19
Noah Herron 2005 2006 3
Bob Hudson 1972 1972 1
Val Jansante 1951 1951 0
Billy Jenkins 2001 2001 1
Charlie Leigh 1974 1974 0
Dave McCloughan 1992 1992 0
Dimitri Nance 2010 2011 1
Jerry Norton 1963 1964 4
Bob Nussbaumer 1951 1951 0
Steve Pritko 1950 1950 0
Terry Randolph 1977 1977 3
Mark Roman 2004 2004 4
Al Romine 1955 1958 0
Dan Sandifer 1953 1953 0
Sammy Walker 1993 1993 1
Travis Williams 1967 1970 18
Paul Winslow 1960 1960 3
Glenn Young 1956 1956 0

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