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[The Players' Tribune] "Fourth" by Kevin Williams

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Week 8, 2019. Tommy Furrey tears his ACL. Man I see the pain in his face. We're 1-5, in a winnable game against the Houston Texans and boom, our top receiver goes down. There's no happy ending here. He doesn't grit his teeth and say "win one for me." We don't go on to beat the Texans. We actually go on to lose every single game for the rest of the year.


See growing up I always heard coach's favorite mantra. "Next Man Up." You know what next man up really means? It means you're not good enough to start. It means you're the Plan B. That's been me my entire life.


Senior year at Boston College, guess what. K Will is fourth on the depth chart. Fourth. You look at the guys in front of me. Mosi Bartos is now a Colt. Tom Branch is killing it in Detroit. Hell even Allama Banta is repping that BC #WRU leading the charge for the LA Rams. But then there's me. Redshirt senior. Fourth.




After the season I had no idea what I was gonna do. No invite to the combine. What am I gonna do with my communications degree you know? Sorry Pops but I didn't go to school, I went for ball. Day 3, 7th round, pick 191. Tampa Bay comes calling and I'm a Buc. All I can think about is relief. I went to offseason work outs, went to training camp, and guess where's K Will on the Depth Chart? Fourth.




I play out the rest of my Bucs career, bouncing around as the fourth or fifth receiver on the depth chart. 2019, I don't even make it all the way through my contract. Legal loopholes, my agent knows. End up at Tennessee on a minimum contract.


I'm not here to preach to the guys on the bench. It sucks. Here's all I got to say. You know what you're capable of. You alone. And as much as it sucks that you have to wait your chance, as much as it sucks hearing "Next Man Up," you have to be that guy. You have to take your opportunities and show the world what you got. Guess what, when Tommy went down in Week 8, the announcers said its over. Ain't receiver worth it in Tennessee and they've got no running game. Know what they were saying after the game? "Hello, Kevin Williams."


I been here. I been fourth.


But guess what, I'm first now.




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