Williams was the 17th overall pick of the 1978 draft, chosen by the
Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of Grambling State. The Bucs, who had never
been to the playoffs before, made three playoff appearances and one NFC
title game from 1979 to 1982. He left the Bucs to play in the United
States Football League. After the USFL shut down in 1986, Williams
returned to the NFL, joining the Washington Redskins.
Initially, Williams served as the backup for starting quarterback Jay
Schroeder, but became the starter toward the end of the 1987 regular
season. When the Skins made the playoffs, Williams, with his 94.0 passer
rating, remained starter. He led the team to Super Bowl XXII, becoming
the first black quarterback to play in the Super Bowl. Facing legendary
Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway, Williams engineered a 42-10 rout,
in which the Redskins set an NFL record by scoring five touchdowns in
the second quarter. Williams completed 18 of 29 passes for 340 yards,
with four TD passes, and was named Super Bowl MVP.
Mark Rypien eventually won the starting job from Williams. Williams
would play one final season in 1989, as backup to Rypien, during his
first Pro Bowl season. In his 5 years with Tampa and four with
Washington, Williams completed 1240 of 2507 passes for 16,998 yards and
100 touchdowns. He also ran for 15 touchdowns.