Redskins'recipe calls for Williams

September 13, 1990|By Jack Mann | Jack Mann,Evening Sun Staff

HERNDON, VA — HERNDON, Va. -- He won't be much help against the 49ers in San Francisco on Sunday, but, culturally speaking, Detroit's loss of Eric Williams is Washington's gain.

His television show, "The Gridiron Gourmet," was past the pilot stage, with two shows in the can, "just ready to roll," when Williams found out he'd been traded to the Redskins.

So Jerry Ball's recipe for shrimp etouffee must remain canned, at least temporarily. (With what does a 296-pound nose tackle stuff his shrimp? With whatever he wants to stuff it with.)

Williams' first response to the trade was resentment. "I was ready to play for Detroit," the 28-year-old defensive end said. "It was like I was working for IBM and they told me I'd been bTC transferred to the D.C. office.

"But then I remembered that football is a business, and it's the business I chose."

But then so is television, Williams remembered. "I like the medium. It is a powerful avenue."

The gourmet show was conceived in and oriented to Detroit suburbs, but since it is dedicated to the proposition that "everybody can cook something," it could work in any city, Williams said.

Like Washington, where Eric Williams will not be working right away. He could only watch practice yesterday, technically because James Wilder, for whom he was traded, hadn't had time for his certifying physical examination by the Lions.

But Williams isn't ready to play. He could only watch the Lions lose to Tampa Bay Sunday, having signed his Detroit contract four days earlier after what was almost a terminal holdout.

Williams worked out in his native California: "Worked out in the morning, ran at night," he said. "You can run and you can lift, but football is running and lifting at the same time."

Though Williams will be putting pads on for the first time today, defensive line coach Vern Torgeson said he may very well play at San Francisco. Un-conditioned in his first game last year, Williams said, he took on 14-year, 285-pound tackle Jackie Slater of the Rams; he did not seem to cherish the memory.

His troubles in Detroit, Williams said, were with vice president Chuck Schmidt, "a bean-counter." After mini-camp last spring Schmidt told the five-year veteran he'd been overpaid, Williams said, even though he'd played every game for two seasons.

All he got in his new contract was "a little kiss on the cheek," Williams said, and a handshake agreement that he would not be traded.

"You're going to like it here," said Redskins punt returner Walter Stanley, a teammate with the Lions last year.

One reason Williams wanted to stay in Detroit was coach Wayne Fontes. "I love him to death," Williams said. "It was tough to keep a winning attitude, but with Fontes you got it through osmosis."

And there was the TV show. "We got the idea after a few glasses of wine, sitting around Chez Raphael, a five-star restaurant in Novi [a blue-chip suburb]," Williams said. "The DJ guy said he'd produce it and the restaurant owner said he'd sponsor it. In two weeks we had it going.

"Everybody can cook something: Chris Spielman [247-pound linebacker out of Ohio State] wanted to show that he could take one of those frozen logs they sell and make chocolate-chip cookies out of it. Another guy had an idea for a vegetable pizza."

When he puts it on, Williams will be wearing uniform No. 75. It will be the first time that he hasn't worn 76 since the Pop Warner League, he said, but he didn't think he'd ask tackle Ed Simmons to give it up.

When it was suggested his mission here was to heighten the Redskins' pass rush -- if necessary, in place of defensive end Fred Stokes (injured shoulder) -- Williams said he'd "never thought of myself as a pass-rushing person."

"In that 3-4 defense he didn't have to much," Torgeson said. "The linebackers do most of it. But he'll have to start thinking about it."

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