Williams welcomes changes in life -- and teams Ravens WR celebrates religion, homecoming

July 20, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The memory is lodged in Calvin Williams' head.

"I was sitting on the bed and I just wasn't happy," said Williams of the experience 3 1/2 years ago that changed his life. "I had the same problem as a lot of young players when they're making good money, I wasn't real happy.

"You don't trust people and I didn't trust anybody outside of my family," he said. "I didn't have anyone I had confidence in, anyone I could talk with. I asked the Lord to come into my life and I have been happy ever since."

Williams is hoping to find a new life with the Ravens as well. Nearly three weeks ago Williams, a graduate of Dunbar High, was released after six years with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Ravens and Williams agreed to a one-year deal on July 9 and Williams is listed as the team's No. 3 receiver, currently behind starters Michael Jackson and Derrick Alexander. But Williams should see plenty of action this season in the Ravens' three-receiver set, or he may earn a starting position by the end of training camp.

"He is a consistent and dependable receiver, and he runs really disciplined patterns," said Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda. "And from everything I've heard, he is a player of great character."

Williams didn't always get good character references. He admits he was a party guy and nightclub hound in the off-season.

Williams says he never had any problems with the law, just occasionally too much to drink and staying out too late.

"I wasn't into anything like drugs, but I was hanging out there, just partying away," said Williams. "I made sure I had my fun in the off-season."

Times have changed for Williams. Before the Eagles released him, he spent a great deal of time volunteering at a shelter for abused and abandoned kids. He also actively worked in the Special Olympics. Williams is a deacon at the Garden of Prayer Baptist church in Baltimore, where he participates in the student-learning program.

"The Lord has helped me through everything, with my wife, my family and football," said Williams. "I know he had a hand in bringing me here."

The Ravens may have gotten a bargain in Williams, who was cut because the Eagles were trying to lower their salary cap. Williams led Philadelphia in receptions last season with a career-high 63 for 768 yards and two touchdowns. Those were impressive totals because Williams was not the team's star receiver; that role belonged to Fred Barnett.

"I've played against both of them," said Ravens safety Bennie Thompson. "At the time we played, everybody thought Barnett was the better receiver but I thought Calvin was. Fred was supposed to be their downtown guy, but whenever they needed a clutch reception, it was Calvin who got it. I hope he comes here and shows some of the same skills."

Williams relishes the thought of playing before the home crowd. He grew up cheering for the Baltimore Colts and heroes such as Bert Jones and Lydell Mitchell.

This will also give his family a chance to watch him play more often. Williams' mother, Josephine, attended the practice sessions yesterday before the rains came.

"This is like a dream scenario and I want to take full advantage of it," said Williams. "I knew I wanted to be close to home, but realistically the chances were not good. This is the result of a lot of people praying for me."

Williams will wear No. 80, former jersey of Andre Rison, another character of sorts.

"I thought that may have been a problem, I wasn't sure how they were going to accept me," said Williams. "We had that situation a couple of times in Philly. Andre was a personable guy. But the guys have been great, and they make me feel right at home."

That's exactly where Williams wanted to be.

Ravens camp

Where: Western Maryland College, Westminster

Practices: Run through Aug. 15. All are free and open to the public. Times are from 9 a.m. to 11: 30 a.m. and 2: 30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Note: Because of wet field conditions, today's morning practice will be held at Owings Mills and will be closed to the public. The afternoon practice will be held at Western Maryland and be open to the public.

Directions from Baltimore: Take I-695 to Exit 19 to I-795 north to its end. Follow signs to Westminster via Route 140 north to Route 97 north. Turn left on exit ramp onto Pennsylvania Avenue. Go about 1 mile and turn left on Monroe Street. Turn right at Winters Alley. Parking lot is on left.

Pub Date: 7/20/96

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