During ESPN’s broadcast, the announcers talked about running back DeAngelo Williams a lot, and rightfully so; he had a great game. They also said the number “33” a lot, as in “33-year old running back DeAngelo Williams.“
It seems people can’t say “DeAngelo Williams” without putting “33” either before or after his name.
Williams’ Steelers teammates kidded him about his age all throughout the summer, serenading him with a chorus of “Happy Birthday” before each training camp session.
Of course, reporters, writers and announcers often cite Williams’ age when questioning whether or not he still has what it takes to carry the load.
In-fact, a season ago, right after Williams signed with the Steelers as a 32-year old free agent running back, reporters, such as The Tribune-Review’s Joe Starkey, questioned whether or not he had any tread left on his tires, following nine seasons in Carolina, where he rushed for over 6,800 yards.
Williams appeared on Starkey’s 93.7 The Fan afternoon sports talk show during last summer’s training camp, and when the reporter asked the veteran back about his tread, he bristled.
Williams is a good guy, but he’s not exactly afraid to share his opinion. And when he got on Starkey’s case for asking if he had anything left as an NFL running back, he appeared defensive and in denial.
Isn’t the athlete the last one to know (or at least admit) he has nothing left?
Williams may have been defensive last summer, but he sure wasn’t in denial, as he proved right out of the gate, by rushing for 127 yards on 21 carries in a Week 1 loss to the Patriots.
Williams, who came to his first Steelers training camp much slimmer after being challenged by head coach Mike Tomlin, never slowed throughout the 2015 campaign; he carried the ball 200 times for 907 yards, appearing in all 16 games and starting 10, while picking up the enormous slack left by the talented Le’Veon Bell, who missed a total of 11 games due to a season-opening suspension and season-ending knee injury.
Sure, but that was last year. How will he do in 2016, as he, once again, begins the season starting in-place of the suspended Bell (this time for three games)?
If Monday night was any indication, he’ll do just fine. Williams, even at the ripe old age of 33, was a workhorse, as he carried the football 26 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns.
Not only did Williams carry the load, he looked fast, quick and tough. In-fact, at various points throughout the game, he appeared to come “this close” to breaking a long run.
Over the course of the next two weeks, and throughout the remainder of his NFL career, Williams will continue to be associated with his age. After all, that’s how it is with older NFL running backs (nobody ever says, “34-year old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger”), but if people want to get hung-up on his age, that’s fine.
The “eye test” doesn’t lie, and vision is all one needs to in-order to realize DeAngelo Williams still has a lot of tread left on his 33- year old tires.