Williams was named a finalist in 2012 as well, but wasn’t chosen for enshrinement.
His fight this year may be even tougher, as he’s up against the likes of former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers great Warren Sapp and an old anchor to the Baltimore Ravens offensive line, tackle Jonathan Ogden.
Only five modern-day finalists are allowed in each year, and Sapp, Ogden and Strahan will probably go before Williams.
But I believe Williams’ accomplishments to the game of football are far too undervalued.
Williams retired with 55 interceptions, good enough for 19th all time, and nine interceptions returned for touchdowns, which is tied for fourth best in the history of the league.
When he hung his cleats up for good in 2004, Williams was second on that touchdown list behind former Pittsburgh Steeler and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Rod Woodson.
In addition to being so high on those lists, Williams was a three-time first-team All-Pro and a six-time Pro Bowler.
For some, that all seems to go unobserved. It may be due to Williams never winning a Super Bowl, or how he toiled away in Arizona as a member of the Phoenix Cardinals for 10 seasons.
During his tenure in the desert, Williams’ Cardinals teams only made the playoffs once, beating the Dallas Cowboys 20-7 in 1998.
But while that victory may not aid Williams in his quest for a bust in Canton, former Cowboys great Michael Irvin’s comments may (h/t ESPN.com's Mike Sando).
Back in 1995 when Williams and Irvin were going at each other twice a year because the Cardinals were still in the NFC East, Williams’ fierceness on the field wasn’t lost on Irvin:
It's a personal challenge. Aeneas has good speed, good reaction. You try and attack a corner's weakness, but it's hard to find a weakness in Aeneas. He ain't no fool.
Because his postseason credentials are light and his interceptions and touchdowns never made much of an impact for the Cardinals, he’s often overlooked. But during his days on the field, he was one of the best cover corners in the league.
Even so, Williams’s impact on the overall success of his team will not allow him to be elected anytime soon. The Cardinals had just two winning seasons while Williams was in Arizona, with one being an 8-8 finish.
Sapp may not get in over Strahan or vice versa, and former Oakland Raiders great Tim Brown is still waiting. That leaves little to no room for Williams.
Growing up, I loved watching Williams play. He was the opposite of the flash that came with Deion Sanders, but just as good.
Since he left the game of football, Williams started a church where he is the lead pastor of The Spirit Church in St. Louis, Missouri.
His day for induction will come soon, but in 2013, he will just have to wait his turn.
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