I may not have met a cooler pro football player than Carolina Panther running back DeAngelo Williams. He and I met during his first year with the Panthers.
Williams was drafted 27th (first round) by the Carolina Panthers in the 2006 NFL Draft after a stellar career at the University of Memphis. I was at the press conference to welcome Williams a couple days later. I instantly gravitated to the speedy running back. I think it was because how low key DeAngelo is most of the time. He's simply a funny and cool dude.
Williams also does cool things on the football field. He finished with his best statistics during the 2008 football season, where he rushed for 1,515 yards and 18 touchdowns. It seemed like just yesterday he and I were talking about how cool it was to be playing with and against guys he used to play with on video games and watch on television.
Take a look at some of the things DeAngelo and I discussed during a recent interview.
Anthony: What's good, Dee?
DeAngelo: I'm doing all right, man. I'm hanging in there.
Anthony: First, you did your thing last season.
DeAngelo: (Laughs.) I tried. Last year was a good one.
Anthony: (Smiles.) Let me ask you this. Is the league everything you expected it to be?
DeAngelo: Yeah, it's all right. You remember...coming in, I thought it was going to be extremely fast, the guys were going to be extremely big. I overemphasized the characteristics of the NFL so it wouldn't be as bad as it would've been if I had underemphasized it. It's just about how fast you make your decisions. Plus, speed kills in this game. But you still have to know a lot about what's going on on the field. There's more to this league than being fast.
Anthony: I remember you were almost shocked during your first preseason game a few years ago. (Smiles.) I think it was against Buffalo.
DeAngelo: (Laughs.) Yeah. You still remember that?
Anthony: (Smiles.) No doubt.
DeAngelo: I wasn't ready for it. I was like, "Wow." I even had to pinch myself a couple time on the sidelines to make sure it was real. I mean, those were the guys that I used to watch on TV for years. After the game, you walk to the middle of the field and see some of those guys and you realize they're celebrities. But it's nothing now.
Anthony: (Smiles.) I feel you.
DeAngelo: I'm going to tell you what got me. The fact that there were so many guys willing to help me when I first got into the league. I thought things were a lot rougher in the league. Even my coaches at Memphis told me not to make many friends, and that everyone is competiting. But everyone wants to win.
Anthony: No doubt. Did you feel like you were better than Reggie Bush? I mean, it seemed like he was the big talk coming out of college -- for obvious reasons.
DeAngelo: It's not even that, man. We're in two different offenses and we both do our thing for our teams. The same about when we were in college. I don't compare myself to him. I'm sure he doesn't compare himself with me.
Anthony: How much have you enjoyed living in Charlotte?
DeAngelo: It's been all right. It's different, man. I don't go out much. I'm not a go-out-much person. I like to sit at home, or go bowling. Or, I'll watch a movie.
Anthony: We'll need to get you to come bowl during Chris Paul's celebrity bowling event for charity.
DeAngelo: (Smiles.) Yeah. I'd love to come get down.
Anthony: What do you listen to before games?
DeAngelo: It's strange,but I don't even listen to music.
DeAngelo: Honestly. I don't. When I'm in the car I'm usually on the phone. I'll hear something on the radio and be like, "That's hot." My girl will probably download it to my iPod, but I will probably only listen to it two or three times a month.
Anthony: Why did you keep No. 34? I thought you would go back to your college number (20).
DeAngelo: I like 34. I wore that number in high school.
Anthony: Oh, OK. I didn't know that. What's your favorite television show?
DeAngelo: (Smiles.) I like the Boondocks and The Family Guy. I've even got the Boondocks box set.
Anthony: How long do you see yourself playing in the league?
DeAngelo: I honestly don't know, man. I'm still excited. I have a strong passion burning inside of me for this sport. I don't know anyone that can foreshadow my career. I don't take that many hits. I get tackled. There's a difference between getting tackled and getting hit. My running style helps me. I think that will further my career in the league.
Anthony: Do you have any nicknames?
DeAngelo: When I first got into the league DeShaun (Foster) called me Dark Wing, Bojangles, Razzle-Dazzle. He told me that I'm not Bo Jackson. He said that I'm Bojangles. (Both laugh.) You know I've got a little shake to my game. DeShaun used to call me anything, though.
Anthony: (Laughs.) I see. Let's finish with free association. Just tell me the first thing that comes to mind.
Anthony: Wynne, Arkansas (DeAngelo's hometown).
DeAngelo: (Laughs.) Next question.
Anthony: (Smiles.) Memphis.
DeAngelo: Beautiful. I love it.
Anthony: DeAngelo Williams.
DeAngelo: A sight to see.
Anthony: Carolina Panthers.
DeAngelo: A team to be reckoned with.
Anthony: T.O. (Terrell Owens).
DeAngelo: A beast.
Anthony: Steve Smith.
DeAngelo: Ultimate game breaker.
Anthony: I agree. Well, we're done. I will see you later on this summer. Good luck to you this upcoming year.
DeAngelo: All right, bruh. Thanks.