#TBT - Part of our weekly Throwback Thursday series
Erik Williams entered the NFL via the third round of the 1991 draft. The powerful and dominating offensive lineman was selected by the Dallas Cowboys with one of the selections obtained from the trade that sent Steve Walsh to New Orleans. Williams saw only limited action during his rookie season, but once he moved beyond that point it was obvious that the franchise had chosen well in taking the former NAIA All American.
1992 marked the beginning of what was a successful career for Williams. He earned the starting spot at right tackle for the Cowboys, allowing the team to move Nate Newton to the left guard position. Big E quickly established a reputation for himself as one of the game's top offensive linemen because he brought an attitude to his work that few linemen ever do. Williams did not just beat his man on a consistent basis, he routinely dominated some of the best in the game. It was a dominating performance against Hall of Famer Reggie White during the 1992 season that first brought Williams the acclaim that his efforts deserved, starting with Offensive Player of the Week honors for shutting down the great pass rusher.
His coming out party was not a fluke. Erik Williams continued to exert his will on opposing defenses week after week. Pro Bowl and first team All Pro recognition was soon to be headed his way as the Cowboys returned to prosperity behind the offensive line that he helped to anchor. By the time his career had wound to a close, Williams had been a three time All Pro selection and he had made four trips to Hawaii for the sport's version of an all star contest. He had more than earned the respect of those against whom he lined up against on a weekly basis.
Erik Williams walked away from professional football with three Super Bowl rings. For most men that would have to rank among their biggest victories, but not for the Big E. 1994 saw him involved in a traffic accident that would have likely taken the life of someone not fortunate enough to be able to drive a Mercedes-Benz.
"He'll have the opportunity to play again, but I doubt it'll be this year In my opinion he's going to need reconstruction of the right knee. Thank God he's alive." - Barry Switzer
The accident did cost Williams the season, but not his life or career. He returned to the gridiron for the 1995 season and again earned Pro Bowl honors. The fact that he was not 100% during that effort, and that his game was never quite as good as it was during the '92 and '93 seasons are a strong testament to just how dominant he was as a player. Erik Williams, even after his accident, was one of the greatest offensive linemen in Cowboys history. He continued to inflict his will on opponents through the 2000 season before playing a final season with the Ravens.
Erik Williams, along with his counterparts on the line, made up perhaps the greatest offensive line in the history of professional football. Memories of the Great Wall of Dallas are being resurrected by the performance of the Cowboys current crop of offensive linemen, and names like Erik Williams should be forever remembered by the faithful. He helped pave the way for the Hall of Fame and record-breaking performances of Emmitt Smith and served to guard Troy Aikman from enemy pass rushers. The Big E was at the core of the dynasty teams of the 1990s and for that he will always have a special place in the hearts of fans.