Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Watch video interview by Brian Curtis

HANOVER, N.H. - In 1975, Reggie Williams was recognized as the most conspicuous player in Dartmouth football annals since halfback Bob MacLeod was a consensus All-America in 1938.

Today, in New York City, Williams's achievements on the college gridiron were crowned by the All-America linebacker's introduction with 11 other players and two coaches from across the nation who will be inducted into the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame's Class of 2007.

He joins MacLeod and eleven other Dartmouth football players, coaches and administrators whose contributions, spanning more than a century, have been previously rewarded with college football's highest honor.

A three-time All-Ivy League first team selection from 1973-75, Williams place among the greatest players in Ivy League history was reinforced by his subsequent 14-year career (1976-89) with the Cincinnati Bengals.

"Being selected for the College Football Hall of Fame is a great honor and a culminating moment for me, for Dartmouth College, and for the Ivy League," said Williams whose post-NFL career over the past 15 years has been devoted to developing sports programs and being a positive role model for boys and girls of all ages from across the nation.

In 1993, Williams joined the Walt Disney Company and championed Disney's involvement in sports, particularly amateur sports. He oversaw the creation of Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, a state-of-the-art multi-sport complex that opened in 1997 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Since 1998, Williams has been vice president of Disney Sports Attractions that, during the past year, saw 220,000 athletes of all ages utilize the nation's preeminent multi-sports complex for amateur and pro sports.

Growing up in Flint, Mich., Williams overcame a severe hearing disability and became an outstanding student-athlete at Southwestern High where his academic record drew the attention of Dartmouth's football coaching staff. He wanted to go to the University of Michigan but Coach Bo Schembechler felt he was too small (6-1, 215) to play football in the Big Ten.

He arrived at Dartmouth in the fall of 1972, uncertain of his place, academically or athletically. During his freshman year, those doubts were erased.
"(Head coach) Jake Crouthamel made the best personnel decision of my athletic career," said Williams, when Crouthamel immediately switched him from running back to linebacker. "Jake believed in my ability.

"Jerry Berndt (the Dartmouth freshman team coach who also was Williams's wrestling coach) was the bridge who established my confidence. Rick Taylor (the Big Green's coach of linebackers) taught me discipline and leadership. I probably would have been happy at Michigan but my expectations wouldn't have been realized if I hadn't come to Dartmouth."

Williams broke into the varsity lineup as a sophomore in 1973, helping Dartmouth win its fifth straight Ivy League title. For three seasons he became the Ivy League's most dominant defensive player, using his speed and intelligence to cover the field from sideline to sideline. His career total of 243 unassisted tackles remains a Dartmouth record and his 370 total tackles ranks second all-time for the Big Green. He also had four interceptions.