Douglas Lee Williams (born August 9, 1955) is a former American footballquarterback and former head coach of the Grambling State Tigers football team. Williams is known for his remarkable performance with the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XXII against the Denver Broncos. Williams, who was named the Super Bowl MVP, passed for a Super Bowl record 340 yards and four touchdowns, with one interception. He was the first African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl; even though he did not start the season. Williams also became the first player in Super Bowl history to pass for four touchdowns in a half, and the only quarterback to throw for four touchdowns in a single quarter. Williams is now a team executive for the Redskins, being hired for that role in 2014.
In 1977, Williams led the NCAA in several categories, including total yards from scrimmage (3,249), passing yards (3,286), touchdown passes (38), and yards per play (8.6). Williams finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting, behind Earl Campbell, Terry Miller, and Ken MacAfee. Williams graduated from Grambling with a bachelor's degree in education, and he began work on his master's degree before the 1978 NFL Draft.
Despite the success that he enjoyed on the field, Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Joe Gibbs was the only NFL coach that visited Williams to work him out and scout him. Gibbs spent two days with the Template:Cvt, Template:Cvt quarterback, reviewing play books, film, and going through passing drills. Impressed by his poise, work ethic, and studious nature, Gibbs rated Williams as the best quarterback in the draft, writing in his scouting report that Williams had “a big-time arm with perfect passing mechanics” and was “a natural leader...very academic and extremely prepared...football smart,” and recommended that the Buccaneers select Williams with their first-round draft choice.
Following the recommendation of Gibbs, Tampa Bay drafted Williams in the first round (17th overall) of the 1978 NFL Draft. Williams became the first African-American quarterback taken in the first round of an NFL draft. His first preseason pass, a 75-yard incompletion that sailed 10 yards past receiver Isaac Hagins, drew a standing ovation from the Tampa Stadium crowd. He was the first quarterback in Buccaneer history capable of throwing long passes downfield. The team, who had won just two games in the first two years of the franchise, went to the playoffs three times in five seasons with Williams as starter and played in the 1979 NFC Championship Game. During his time in Tampa Williams improved his completion percentage each season.
Williams was the only starting African-American quarterback in the NFL at that time. During his tenure with the Buccaneers, Williams was paid $120,000 a year, the lowest salary for a starting quarterback in the league, and less than the salary of 12 backups. After the 1982 season, Williams asked for a $600,000 contract. Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse refused to budge from his initial offer of $400,000 despite protests from coach John McKay. Feeling that Culverhouse was not paying him what a starter should earn, Williams bolted to the upstart United States Football League’s Oklahoma Outlaws. The next season the Bucs went 2–14, and did not make the playoffs again until the 1997 season fourteen years later. Tampa Bay lost ten games in every season but one in that stretch. Culverhouse’s willingness to let Williams walk away over such a relatively small amount of money was seen as insensitive, especially as it came only months after Williams’ wife Janice died of an aneurysm.
In 1984, Williams led the Outlaws of the USFL in passing, completing 261 out of 528 passes for 3,084 yards and 15 touchdowns. However, he threw 21 interceptions, ending up with a passer rating of 60.5 during a 6–12 season. In 1985, the team moved to Arizona and merged with the Arizona Wranglers to become the Arizona Outlaws, Williams showed some improvement, completing 271 out of 509 passes for 3,673 yards with 21 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
After the USFL was shuttered in 1986, Williams returned to the NFL, joining the Washington Redskins. He was reunited with his former offensive coordinator, Gibbs, who was now head coach of the team. Initially, Williams served as the backup for starting quarterback Jay Schroeder, but after Schroeder became injured, Williams stepped in and led the Redskins to an opening-day victory against the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1987 season. Williams and Schroeder had a somewhat chilly relationship, stemming from Schroeder ordering Williams to get off the field when the Redskins thought he was injured in the 1986 NFC title game and sent Williams to substitute for him, and the team's veterans also preferred Williams over Schroeder as the team's quarterback. It would be one of three times in 1987 that Williams substituted for Schroeder and led the team to victory (the other two were November 15 against Detroit and December 26 at Minnesota). Williams only started two games, September 20 at Atlanta and November 23 against the Rams. While both starts were losses, at the end of the season, when the Redskins had qualified for the playoffs, Williams, with his 94.0 passer rating, was chosen as the starter. He led the team to Super Bowl XXII in which they routed the Denver Broncos, becoming the first black quarterback to play in a Super Bowl.
"I get this phone call from Coach Gibbs. He was the only guy who called me Douglas. ‘Douglas, it’s Coach Gibbs,” he said. ‘How you doing?” He asked me to come to Washington to be a backup. Now at this point, I don’t have a job. I told him, ‘Coach, I can be any type of ‘up’ you want me to be.’ He started laughing. He said, ‘OK. [Washington general manager] Bobby Beathard is going to give you a call.’ Bobby called. We agreed [to terms]."
According to legend, Williams was asked this question on Media Day: “How long have you been a black quarterback?” He supposedly replied, “I’ve been a quarterback since high school, and I’ve been black all my life.” The story is untrue, but Williams says he still gets asked about it. On February 1, 2013, Williams was interviewed on the Boomer and Carton show, and he was asked by the host Craig Carton if the question ever happened. He replied that it was true. Williams said he thought the reporter was a little nervous and the question may have come out the wrong way and that no ill will was meant towards him.
On the day before Super Bowl XXII, Williams had a six-hour root canal surgery performed (under full anesthetic) to repair an abscess under a dental bridge. The pain of this condition caused him to lose sleep for several days.
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 touchdown passes, and was named Super Bowl MVP.
The Super Bowl was clearly the high point of Williams’ NFL career. He suffered from injuries the following season and was outplayed by Mark Rypien, who eventually won the starting job from Williams. Despite competing for the same starting job, Williams and Rypien were so supportive of each other that T-shirts were sold with the caption “United We Stand", depicting the two quarterbacks as cartoon characters with Williams saying “I'm for Mark” and Rypien saying “I'm for Doug”. Williams would play one final season in 1989, as Rypien's backup, during the latter's first Pro Bowl season.
Finances played a large part in Williams' departure from the Redskins, with Williams slated to make $1 million in 1990 as the team's backup quarterback. The Redskins were able to sign former New York GiantJeff Rutledge for the backup role for substantially less money, thereby making Williams expendable.
Williams received scant attention from other teams following his waiver by the Redskins' — a situation which he flatly attributed to racism.
Williams retired with a 5–9 record as Redskins starter (8–9, counting playoffs) and a 38–42–1 record as a regular season starter (42–45–1, including 7 playoff starts). He had 100 passing touchdowns, and 15 rushing touchdowns, in 88 NFL games.
Following his departure from the NFL, Williams worked on television in 1990 as a college football analyst for the Black Entertainment Television (BET). Despite enjoying the change of pace, Williams longed to return to football and when a high school head coaching position opened up in 1991 at the new Pointe Coupee Central High School in the unincorporated Labarre area of Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, Williams applied for the job and was hired for the position. Williams led the 35-player team to a 5-5 record in the season, including an upset of the second-ranked school in the state.
In 1992, Williams was able to move on to coach to his former high school in Zachary, now renamed Northeast High. Playing its home games on a field bearing his name, Williams was able to lead the team to an undefeated regular season, finally falling in the state semi-finals. During the 1993 Louisiana HS playoffs, his team notably knocked out Isidore Newman High School, then led by senior quarterback Peyton Manning.
At the conclusion of Super Bowl XLII, on the 20th anniversary of being named Super Bowl XXII MVP, Williams carried the Vince Lombardi trophy on to the field for presentation to the winning New York Giants.
Williams was named the director of professional scouting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in February 2009. He was relieved of this position on May 11, 2010.
Williams was born in Zachary, Louisiana, a town of about 8,000 people located near Baton Rouge. Williams and his wife, Raunda, have eight children: Laura; Lee; Ashley; Adrian; Doug, Jr.; Jasmine; Temessia; Carmaleta. His sons Adrian and Doug Jr. (D.J.) are both accomplished collegiate athletes. Adrian played basketball for Brown University until graduating after the 2010-11 season while D.J. signed to play for his father at Grambling State University. Doug's nephew Johnny Huggins also played in the NFL.