In our Broncos Legends series, we're revisiting the careers of some of the best players in franchise history with video highlights and rarely seen photos — and they'll join us to break down their favorite moments as a Bronco and more. Here's a refresher on Alfred Williams' time in Denver.
After a star-studded career at the University of Colorado, Alfred Williams always hoped he'd be a Bronco when he entered the NFL. But the Broncos passed on him during the 1991 NFL Draft. After four years with the Bengals and a season in San Francisco, he became a free agent at just the right time for the Broncos.
With future Ring of Famer Simon Fletcher retiring after the 1995 season, the Broncos needed a replacement pass-rusher. Choosing between Williams and six-time Pro Bowler Leslie O'Neal, Mike Shanahan and the Broncos opted for Williams; Shanahan felt Williams had more potential.
In the process, the Broncos fulfilled one of Williams' long-held dreams to play in Denver.
"I wanted to be here," Williams said after signing with the Broncos. "That's what it boiled down to. I'm thrilled I'm here now. It's been a long time in the making. …
"I'm here to stay. I'll retire here, and my kids will grow up here."
In short order, Williams proved Shanahan's gut instinct correct about his potential. Over the first eight games of his first season in Denver, he had 8.5 sacks. After he finished the year with 13 quarterback takedowns, Williams earned Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro honors.
Over the following two seasons, Williams may not have reached that peak again, but he was able to play a key role on the Broncos' back-to-back Super Bowl teams. In the 1997 Divisional Round matchup against the Chiefs in Arrowhead, Williams came up big with two sacks as the Broncos escaped with a four-point win.
After his final season in the NFL in 1999, Williams moved on to a new career in sports broadcasting, which has become just about as successful as his time on the field.
Since his first KKFN radio show with former Denver Nugget Scott Hastings (which also featured Williams’ mother calling in, upset she wasn’t picked as the first caller) on Jan. 3, 2006, Williams has provided Denver airwaves with a fun, booming personality. Since then, he has also been featured on several other local TV sports programs for analysis.
In 2019, Williams left KKFN and now hosts KOA's afternoon drive program, "Big Al & JoJo," on weekdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. MT.
Two-time Super Bowl champion (XXXII, XXXIII), one Pro Bowl (1996), one first-team All-Pro (1996), 1996 Week 3 AFC Defensive Player of the Week, Broncos Top 100 Team member, Broncos 50th Anniversary Team member (second team)
Stats to know
Broncos stats: 49 games, 38 starts, 28.5 sacks, 131 total tackles, six forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one defensive touchdown
Career stats: 128 games, 92 starts, 59.5 sacks, 316 tackles, two safeties, nine forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries, one defensive touchdown
In his own words
"Early on in the NFL, you're just trying to be proficient. Early on, I was working on my craft, and then I got out to the 49ers, where I learned to play football. By the time I got to Denver, I was a good football player. So when I got to Denver, my confidence level was just through the roof. I was confident, I was happy, I was excitable.
"Von Miller reminds me a lot of myself as a player, and his personality. Von is more accomplished than I was in my career at this stage, but his energy, his charisma reminds me a lot of myself."
Three games to remember
Week 3, 1996: Broncos 27, Buccaneers 23
In a performance that would earn him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors, Williams had two plays that changed the course of the game. On the first, he sacked Bucs QB Trent Dilfer on third down with seven seconds left before halftime to ensure Tampa would get no more than a field goal after driving to the 11-yard line. The four points Williams helped save would make the difference in the final score.
Williams' second key play also came in a decisive moment, as the Broncos looked to protect their 27-23 lead with less than two minutes left in the game and Tampa near midfield. As Dilfer dropped back to pass, Williams beat the right tackle around the edge, reached out with his left arm and jarred the ball loose from Dilfer's hands before he could pass. Williams then dove on the ball to secure the victory.
Week 4, 1997: Broncos 38, Bengals 20
It may not have been the biggest game nor Williams' best, but it included one of his more memorable plays. As the Bengals faced an 11-point deficit with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter, they continued what could only be considered a drive of desperation. Shortly after crossing midfield, Broncos defensive lineman Neil Smith rocked quarterback Jeff Blake, knocking the ball loose. Williams was there to pick it up, and after outrunning his former college teammate, Eric Bieniemy, he leaped over the goal line for a touchdown against the team that had originally drafted him.
1997 Divisional Round: Broncos 14, Chiefs 10
By taking down the Jaguars to begin their postseason campaign, the Broncos had gotten their first playoff win since the 1991 playoffs. To add to it, they'd have to take down the division champion Chiefs on their home turf at Arrowhead Stadium in freezing temperatures. As good as Denver's offense was with John Elway and Terrell Davis, their defense showed its mettle by holding Kansas City's fifth-ranked scoring offense to just 10 points. With two sacks in the game, Williams was a key piece to that effort.
His second sack, which dropped the Chiefs back 10 yards on their final drive, may have been overcome with a 23-yard pass on the next play, but it helped contribute to Kansas City's clock mismanagement. The Chiefs wasted 18 seconds after Williams' sack and were unable to get set for a play before the two-minute warning. Then, after the 23-yard play, they called their final time out with 1:51 left and 28 yards to the goal line. With time winding down and the Chiefs unable to get out of bounds on first, second and third down, QB Elvis Grbac opted to go for a touchdown on fourth down, even though the first down marker was just 2 yards away from the line of scrimmage. The Broncos broke up the pass, left Arrowhead with a win and were Super Bowl champions two games later.
Flip back through photos of Alfred Williams' career, from his All-Pro 1996 season to the two Super Bowl victories and beyond.