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Ex-NFL lineman John Williams dies at 64

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John Williams, an offensive lineman who played 12 seasons in the NFL, died this morning on a walk near his home in Minnesota. He was 64.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Williams, who played his college football at Minnesota and returned to football after his playing days and became a dentist and respected community leader in North Minneapolis, had been recovering from a kidney transplant but had seemed to be healthy and doing well. The kidney donor was a longtime friend of Williams who had been a trainer for the 1967 Minnesota Golden Gophers team on which Williams was an All-Big Ten lineman.

Williams was a first-round draft pick of the Baltimore Colts in 1968 and played for them in Super Bowl III and Super Bowl V. He left the Colts after the 1971 season and signed with the Los Angeles Rams, where he played until 1979. His last game was Super Bowl XIV.

After going to dental school during NFL offseasons, Williams opened his dental practice shortly after retiring. He was also a pilot who flew small planes as a hobby and served on the Metropolitan Airports Commission in the Twin Cities, and he was named the Minneapolis Volunteer of the Year in 1992 for his work with prison inmates.

Williams is survived by his wife, Barbara Butts-Williams, who is the dean of the School of Education at Capella University in Minneapolis and was recently appointed to the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which will work on the development of the Vikings’ new stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

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13 Responses to “Ex-NFL lineman John Williams dies at 64”
  1. kegowhisky says: Jul 8, 2012 8:17 PM

    What outstanding achievements after a successful football career. Wish you could bottle his formula and pour it out in rookie camp. RIP Dr. Williams, you’ll be missed.

  2. qdog112 says: Jul 8, 2012 8:17 PM

    Rest in Peace Mr. Williams. Condolences to his family and friends.

  3. howiefeltersnatch says: Jul 8, 2012 8:29 PM

    Sad news for sure, thoughts and prayers to the Williams family.

    Back when players used to work on post-playing careers in the offseason as opposed to burning tree and blowing a .2

  4. larryboodry says: Jul 8, 2012 8:35 PM

    Sad to hear…May he rest in peace.

  5. hkemp99 says: Jul 8, 2012 8:54 PM

    I hate to see anyone die so young, but it sure sounds like Mr. Williams lived a full and happy life. What a contrast to all the stories about broke and down-and-out athletes who can’t adjust to life after sports. Well done, Mr. Williams!

  6. briang123 says: Jul 8, 2012 9:00 PM

    I hope they add him to the lawsuits as soon as possible. He seems like a good man that deserves to have his family get financial benefit for what the NFL put him through.

  7. johnsq316 says: Jul 8, 2012 9:25 PM

    Briang123 – John was a dear friend of my parents and grand parents, and it offends me to see anyone exploit his passing to make a point about their opinion of the NFL and what they did or didn’t do about concussions. We don’t know what Big John died of yet, but please, don’t cheapen his passing to score political points.

    My initial reason for posting was to share a memory – my parents are both smaller in stature, while I was always among the tallest and biggest in my class before rounding out at 6’3″ 270. It was “Big” John Williams who took me out to dinner and talked to me about the responsibilities of being a “big” man, how to be a leader, and how to be a gentleman. He will be missed by everyone who knew him.

  8. superross says: Jul 8, 2012 9:38 PM

    Wow sounds like he was a great guy! RIP

  9. dlc618 says: Jul 8, 2012 11:05 PM

    Seems like a class act. RIP sir and I wish his family peace.

  10. astrosfan75956 says: Jul 9, 2012 12:32 AM

    Sounds like a great dude, RIP.

  11. kregaway says: Jul 9, 2012 12:47 AM

    Sad to see him gone at such a young age. We were relatively close.

  12. blackqbwhiterb says: Jul 9, 2012 7:37 AM

    I’ve always been fascinated by the “Unsung” heroes, the O-linemen…This guy played in 3 Super Bowls, but 99% of us never heard of him….Yet by his career history you can tell he was a big time contributor. RIP, Dr. Williams

  13. bearsman says: Jul 9, 2012 8:57 AM

    Sad to hear this about an athlete who after football had an great and productive life. Doesn’t blame the nfl for the choices he made in life and even can help out others. Prayers to his family and friends.

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