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Thoughts and Prayers Pour in From Around Football

Posted Jan 1, 2007

The football world mourns the tragic passing of Darrent Williams, offering words of healing for the Williams family and Broncos organization.


Darrent Williams touched all that met him with an outgoing personality and youthful exuberance. PHOTO: ERIC LARS BAKKE


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Thoughts and prayers from around the football world have begun to pour in for the family of Darrent Williams and the Broncos organization.

Williams, who was tragically killed early Monday morning, touched all who met him with an effervescent spirit much greater than his 5-foot-8 frame.

Following are quotes from those who knew Williams -- as a competitor, teammate, player and friend:

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State head football coach: "It's a tragic loss for the Denver Broncos family, Oklahoma State University and anyone who knew Darrent Williams. It's a loss that goes far beyond the football field. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, his teammates, the Denver organization and all of those in the OSU community he touched." -- Oklahoma State University News Release

Joe DeForest, Williams' position coach at Oklahoma State and who oversees the secondary and special teams: "He was the greatest player I have coached in my 20 years. He wanted to prove to the world that he could play. He had a chip on his shoulder and I mean that in a good way. He wanted to prove himself, and that's the way he approached every game. It was what made him a great player." -- Oklahoma State University News Release

Anthony Criss, Williams' football coach at O.D. Wyatt High School in Fort Worth, Texas: "He said, 'Why? I'm the best running back on the team and (the) best quarterback,'" Criss recalled. "I said, 'Yes, but if you play defensive side of the ball, you'll play on Sundays. The day he got drafted, I called him and he said, 'I know, I know. You were right.'" -- Dallas Morning News

"He was about 5-8 and could dunk. He was a good kick returner, too. I remember we were down 20-0 to Arlington Heights in the district championship game, and he took a punt back -- it was unbelievable -- and it changed the game. We came back to win. The things he was doing in college and the pros, he was doing in high school." -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"When he was younger, he always gravitated to the wrong crowd. I remember he went to church and the minister was talking to him about needing to pray and stop hanging around with the wrong people, and he started straightening up and doing the right thing.

"I visited him his junior year, and he was grown. Everything was, `Yes, sir. No, sir.' He had great compassion. He always wanted to try to make sure people did the right thing. He wanted to be a good parent, a good father, a good example for his kids. He will be missed." -- NFL.com

"I could call him up and say, 'Here's one of my kids. He's being hard-headed and I need you to talk to him,'" he said. "And I'd give kids the phone and they'd say, 'Who's this? ... Darrent Williams? From the Denver Broncos?' And Darrent would tell them, 'You've got to listen to Coach,' and they'd listen.

"He was always trying to give back. He didn't mind sharing his story. He was such a great kid, and he's really going to be missed. It was like one of my own sons being shot and killed. It's been a rough morning." -- Dallas Morning News

Greg Aiello, NFL spokesman: "It is a terrible tragedy. We don't know all the details yet, but we are reaching out to the Broncos to offer our support." -- NFL.com

Kevin Williams, Vikings defensive tackle who played with Williams two years at Oklahoma State: "It makes you want to stay home and not go out to places when you see things like that. You hate to see it. He was a hardworking kind of guy. He was a great guy." -- Rocky Mountain News

Cedric Smith, Broncos assistant strength and conditioning coach:
"He had a big heart and a lot of courage. It's a tragedy, a complete tragedy. It's sickening." -- Dallas Morning News

Paul Ernster, Broncos punter: "Anytime you lose a guy who was close to everyone, it hurts. From the get-go, he was like one of your good friends." -- NFL.com

John Lynch, Broncos safety: "A terrible shock. We're all very saddened for his family, a tragic thing.'' -- Rocky Mountain News

Mark Schlereth, former Broncos offensive lineman and current ESPN commentator: "The NFL at its core is a big fraternity and today we lost one of our own. I didn't know Darrent Williams that well. We'd only met once or twice, the first time coming after he was drafted by the Broncos in the second round of the 2005 draft. He was excited to start his new journey and was confident that he could prove he belonged in this league. He did prove he belonged on the big stage. In the coming days we're going to hear a lot of stuff about how athletes were out of control in 2006, but we can't forget that this was a 24-year old kid who lost his life.

"This is bigger than a football player or a football team; this is about a kid whose life ended prematurely. This is about a kid who was realizing his dreams and it just smacks of senselessness to me. There's no reason we should be writing eulogies for 24-year old kids … absolutely none.

"My heart goes out to his family and friends who are suffering from this untimely loss." -- ESPN.com

Gary Kubiak, Texans head coach and former Broncos coach and quarterback: "He was a great kid, did a great job for us. I talked to a couple of coaches this morning, a couple of our players that know him very well. It's just very unfortunate. The kid had a great future. He came to us and did a great job. He was very outgoing. He had a bright, bright future. Heck, I had a conversation with my kid this morning. I think Darrent's a 25 year old, am I right, 25, 26? To have that type of future and have that type of so much to look forward to, it's just sad. I know it's extremely difficult on the organization and just…I really don't know what to say y'all." -- Texans.com

Jeff Fisher, Titans head coach: "I just want to take this opportunity to let the family members and everyone associated with the Broncos, let them know how deeply saddened that we are as an organization and as players and coaches for the tragic event that happened last night. It's very, very unfortunate.

"There's nothing much you can say other than time will put this in perspective. We hope that everyone will be able to heal from this. I'm very, very sorry." -- Titansonline.com

Eric Mangini, New York Jets head coach: "I would like to offer my condolences to Darrent Williams' family. Obviously this is a horrible tragedy and a very difficult time. We just want them to know that our thoughts and prayers are with them in this period." -- NewYorkJets.com

Information from the Associated Press contributed to this story