In a career that spanned 14 NFL seasons, including four in St. Louis, Aeneas Williams established himself as one of the best defensive backs of his era. Saturday, his legacy in NFL history was cemented as he was bestowed the league’s highest individual honor as he was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame.
Williams was one of seven players selected, joining DE Michael Strahan, LB Derrick Brooks, WR Andre Reed, OT Walter Jones, P Ray Guy and DE Claude Humphrey.
This year marked the third consecutive year Williams appeared as a Hall of Fame finalist. The wait was certainly worth it, and did not wear on the former corner and safety.
“I trusted the process,” Williams said following the announcement. “There was nothing I could do now that I hadn’t already done.”
The former third-round draft pick out of Southern University becomes just the 24th defensive back to be elected to Canton, including just the fourth in his era, joining Darrell Green, Deion Sanders and Rod Woodson.
“It’s unreal, because there are so many guys I know who were far more talented than I was to play at this level, and even at the collegiate level,” Williams said. “My motivation was always, and still is, to reach my potential. I contacted Hall of Fame guys in my second and third year in the league, I took time to see them and talk to them about how to have a great corner mindset. To be considered one of 24, I just praise God and thank my trainers and everybody who played a part in helping me to get physically and mentally ready to play.”
Williams’ talent was certainly more than sufficient for induction in Canton, as he spent much of his career as one of the league’s premier cover corners, grabbing 55 career interceptions, including eight seasons of four or more.
Williams converted to safety during his four-year tenure with St. Louis, which was highlighted by two of his eight career Pro Bowl selections. Upon joining the Rams in 2001, Williams was named a first-team All-Pro defensive back in 2001, helping transform the Rams’ defense from the 23rd-ranked unit to the third-best in a single year. His efforts helped the Rams to their second Super Bowl appearance in three seasons. In joining St. Louis, Williams, who had long established himself as one of the league’s best defenders, had the opportunity to play for a championship for the first time in his 11th year in the NFL.
“(Just) getting the opportunity to play with some great players, playing with my fellow New Orleanian Marshall Faulk, being a part of a great team that was already assembled, being coached by Coach (Mike) Martz and Coach Lovie Smith, it was a great time,” Williams said.
Williams became the second member of the 2001 Rams to be named, joining Faulk, who was inducted in 2011.