Runningback Ryan Williams #34 of the Arizona Cardinals arrives to practice during the team training camp at Northern Arizona University on August 4, 2011 in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Photographer: Getty Images
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As the radio guy who conducts the post game interviews in the Cardinals' locker room, I’ve had guys roll their eyes at me, high-five me, yell at me, yank the mic out of my hand, and even sweat on me (uh, Calais, can I borrow that towel?).
But after the Cards' preseason win against the Raiders, forget the perspiration. We almost had moisture of a different kind – tears. Mine. Not quite, but almost. Yeah, I nearly went Dick Vermeil.
Maybe it was the sight of Ryan Williams getting a hug from Larry Fitzgerald before the first snap. Maybe it was watching all the hugs on the sideline after Ryan Williams reached the end zone. Or maybe it was the sight of Ryan Williams running across the locker room with a honkin’ huge smile on his face before eagerly grabbing the headphones.
“I can’t lie, I was kind of scared,” Williams said. “Starting the game off and getting that first handoff. But as soon as I got hit and got tackled, the rest was history. I was back to my regular self.”
Make that "back to himself" plus a massive scar on his knee that will serve as a lifelong reminder of the patella tendon injury that ended his rookie season almost exactly one year earlier.
Me: “So, you must’ve been nervous before the game?”
RW: “Before the game? I was nervous all week (laugh).”
Me: “What’s most gratifying?”
RW: “Just being able to score a touchdown. I haven’t scored a touchdown since college, so it just felt good.”
Me: “What was more instrumental: that first TD or that first carry and first hit?
RW: “To be honest, it was the first hit. My heart has been pounding for the past two days, trying to figure out how that first hit was going to feel, how my knee was going to be able to react to it.”
Football is football. Except when you’ve lost an entire season of football and very nearly lost your career. In that way, I asked Williams if Friday night was different than any other game he had ever played?
“Yes, coming off coming off this injury is not an easy thing,” Williams explained. “A lot of people that I talked to say they don’t feel like themselves until a year.”
Does he feel 100 percent now? No.
“I know I’m not 100% because I can still kind of feel a little pinching here and there, but I can play,” Williams shared. “And that’s what I’ve been wanting, so I’m going to continue to work hard and get these kinks worked out.”
Just one problem: at the time of our interview, Williams was still searching for the football that Larry Fitzgerald retrieved after his touchdown.
“He grabbed me and hugged me and said ‘I’m very proud of you and I’m very glad we’ve got you back’ right before the first carry. Then after the touchdown, he said ‘hey, good job. I know you’ve been working hard’ and he gave me the football,” Williams said. “I’m looking for it right now, because I don’t know where it’s at…”
That’s the bad news – Ryan Williams missing his football. The good news is that it sure beats Ryan Williams missing an entire season.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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