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Williams Laid to Rest

Posted Jan 6, 2007

Cornerback Darrent Williams was eulogized at an emotional funeral service in his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas.

 

One Final Homecoming for the Late Broncos Cornerback

 

Bowlen Speaks at Funeral
Broncos President/CEO Pat Bowlen speaks during the funeral service for Darrent Williams at the Great Commission Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. PHOTO: ERIC LARS BAKKE
REMEMBERING DARRENT WILLIAMS
Darrent Williams

By Andrew Mason

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Cornerback Darrent Williams was laid to rest Saturday afternoon following a two-and-a-half hour funeral service that meshed tears with laughter and sadness with bouts of spirited jubilation.

Over 3,000 mourners jammed the Great Commission Baptist Church, where Williams was memorialized in an environment that was decorated by an array of floral bouquets, both his white and blue Broncos jerseys, his helmet and other items that commemorated the path his life took from the streets of this Texas metropolis to a Division I-A scholarship and eventually to NFL stardom.

President/CEO Pat Bowlen told the throng that the Broncos had never before experienced a similar tragedy to that which befell them when Williams died on New Year's morning as a result of a drive-by shooting.

"I can't find anything in our history ... that would even come close to what happened to Darrent," Bowlen said. "It's something that will stay with me for the rest of my life."

Denver's players, coaches and staff filed past Williams' casket one-by-one before the cornerback's family entered the sanctuary to pay their final respects.

The collection of mourners at the service included NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw and some of Williams' former Broncos teammates, including Ashley Lelie and Willie Middlebrooks.

As one of the eulogists, Bowlen told Rosalind Williams and the rest of the family and friends on hand that the best way for the Broncos to honor Williams' memory was to win Super Bowl XLII in February 2008.

Head Coach Mike Shanahan next stepped to the lectern and shared stories of Williams' demeanor and how it impacted his play, particularly in his signature game at Oakland in November 2005, when he returned a punt 52 yards and ran back an interception 80 yards for a game-clinching, final-quarter touchdown.

Other speakers included Joe DeForest, Williams' position coach at Oklahoma State, and Troy Asmus of Momentum Sports Management, who told the audience that he would help establish a foundation in Williams' name to sustain some of the off-the-field goals Williams had prior to his death on Monday.

A procession of Broncos followed, including linebackers Keith Burns and Al Wilson, assistant secondary coach Jimmy Spencer and tailback Tatum Bell.

"Our locker room is wounded now," said Burns, who went to Oklahoma State over a decade before Williams did. "But these troops over here, we're going to rally together, stand by one another, because that's what he would want."

Like Williams, Bell is a Metroplex native. The two had known each other since they became teammates at Oklahoma State in 2001, and the emotion of the moment tore at the tailback before Wilson came forward to support his teammate.

John Lynch also spoke, bringing the team's entire compliment of defensive backs and secondary coaches with him.

"As a culture, as a country, we've got to start respecting life," Lynch said before bringing the group of Broncos -- along with Rosalind Williams -- together for one more group huddle.

Following a stirring sermon, the ceremony closed with a montage of photos and video clips from Williams' life playing on the massive video monitors above the pulpit as the casket was escorted from the church for burial at a local cemetery. Virtually all of Williams' highlights from his two seasons in orange and blue played as the Broncos subsequently departed the sanctuary for their waiting buses.

The Broncos players, coaches and football staff returned to Denver immediately following the service.