Local NFL players of the past reflect on Playoff memories
By MarKeith Cromartie
Florida A&M and Florida State Universities are used to producing home grown talent preparing them to play in the NFL. But only a selected few have had the privilege to make it to the playoffs. These are the stories of 3 homegrown NFL players that have been to the playoffs and have experienced victory and defeat.
Wally Williams, an offensive lineman, a Rickards High School and Florida A&M alumni was undrafted but signed by the Cleveland Browns, went to the playoffs his 2nd year in the NFL.
“It’s something I really can’t describe, emotions of the game collide with your career, it’s a stressful environment but you are playing football at the highest level.” Williams said about his first playoff experience.
Williams, who was in the league for 10 years has seen and done it all, was asked what every player will experience going into the playoffs:
“Adversity it’s the thing that sends you home,”he responded.
Former FAMU player and coach, Earl Holmes, was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1996.
Holmes joined a team that was coming off a Super bowl loss and was tossed into a situation where the team expected greatness. When asked about having to adjust mentally to the playoffs he said, “You don’t have to change your mindset because it changes for you.”
In Holmes’ career he played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions, but had his most success in Pittsburgh where he went to the playoffs six straight years. When asked would he consider the playoffs life changing he replied,
“Yes, because you never know what could happen in the post season, one fumble, one missed tackle, one great catch and they can get an opportunity to play the next round.”
Going across the tracks from Florida A&M to Florida State University, Corey Fuller, a defensive back and Rickards High School alumni, played professional football for 9 years with the Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.
His first playoff experience was in his 2nd year with the Vikings where they lost to the Dallas Cowboys. Asked to describe his first playoff feelings, Fuller said “If you win this game right here you are on step away from playing in the Super Bowl”.
Fuller came close to playing in a Super bowl in 1998 with the Vikings when they lost by a field goal to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC championship game. It’s safe to say he knows what it takes to be successful in the playoffs, when asked what’s the experience that every player will have in the playoffs he simply responded, “The Magnitude of the game”.
Tallahassee is a small city but these three men had big dreams and achieved them by playing in games that few players ever get to play in.