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Former Packer Clarence Williams dies at 70

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Clarence Williams, a defensive end who was a stalwart of the Packers’ defense in the 1970s, has died at the age of 70.

Nicknamed “Big Cat,” Williams was, at 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, known for both his size and his quickness. He grew up in Texas, led his high school to a state championship and then went to Prairie View A&M and was an 11th-round draft pick of the Cowboys in 1969. In 1970 he was traded along with Malcolm Walker to the Packers in exchange for Hall of Fame cornerback Herb Adderley. Having lived his entire life in Texas, he didn’t know what to expect.

I just didn’t know much about Green Bay,” Williams recalled years later to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I was a small-town country boy from Texas. I watched Green Bay in the Super Bowls and the Packers-Cowboys games all the time on TV. Green Bay was just so far north, and I hadn’t gone anywhere north in my life. I had no sense of the climate or the town. . . . I saw cornfields and woods on the plane and then went straight to St. Norbert’s [the college where the Packers had training camp]. I was young, 24 or 25, and was just in awe. The weather was so different and there weren’t any black people up there. I couldn’t get a haircut anywhere. All I knew about Green Bay was the football team.”

Williams, who would come to love Green Bay so much that he stayed even after his playing career ended, had perhaps his greatest game in 1972, when he led the Packers to an NFC Central-clinching win over the Vikings. Williams, lined up against future Hall of Fame tackle Ron Yary, sacked future Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton three times in that game.

“I’ve been in Green Bay 10 years and I’ve never seen anybody tackle Fran Tarkenton three times in one game,” Packers linebacker Dave Robinson said. after the game “But the Big Cat did it today.”

Williams said in 2012 that the performance against the Vikings was one he’d like to be remembered for.

“I still have the tape of the ’72 Vikings game, but haven’t pulled it out in a while,” Williams said. “Last time I watched it was with my kids. One of these days, I’ll have to get it put on a CD.”

Williams is survived by his wife of 48 years, three children and two grandchildren.

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23 Responses to “Former Packer Clarence Williams dies at 70”
  1. canedaddy says: May 14, 2017 4:45 PM

    R.I.P. Big Cat.

  2. mnrasslinggovjesse says: May 14, 2017 4:55 PM

    Quality player and quality human being.
    God bless him.

  3. 4512dawg4512 says: May 14, 2017 4:59 PM

    Never even heard of the guy until now but what a life he had. R.I.P Big Cat

  4. harrisonhits2 says: May 14, 2017 5:02 PM

    One of the greats of his day. RIP

  5. bmacwillconn says: May 14, 2017 5:05 PM

    Great life football life story for a great human being. Thank you for the exemplary life you led and how many people you made a positive impact on. God Bless.

  6. tripledipper says: May 14, 2017 5:54 PM

    RIP big man.

  7. barrywhererufrom says: May 14, 2017 5:55 PM

    RIP..

  8. nyneal says: May 14, 2017 6:37 PM

    Great player and great man. Too bad he died at a relatively young age.
    I remember that 3 sack day against Tarkenton. I was jumping off the couch every time Williams got him. If memory serves me correctly, he almost had two more sacks that day, but the elusive Tarkenton got away at the last possible moment.
    R.I.P. Clarence. You never played for Lombardi, but I’m sure you’re on his team now.

  9. xxstatic says: May 14, 2017 6:42 PM

    I grew up in West De Pere just a couple of houses away from him, played with his kids after school many times…R.I.P. Mr. Williams.

  10. pkrlvr says: May 14, 2017 6:42 PM

    Met the big cat several times when I was a kid. He seemed like a giant at the time and was the first football player I had ever talked too. Seemed like a great guy. RIP.

  11. bannedfromchoirpractice says: May 14, 2017 7:34 PM

    Thanks for the memories, Big Cat.

  12. beerbratscheese says: May 14, 2017 7:48 PM

    As a football card collecting kid, he was one of the first Packers players I got. In 1975, I got him and John Brockington. I was a big fan ever since. RIP.

  13. xlivsaints says: May 14, 2017 8:03 PM

    This dude kicked ass

  14. manderson4150 says: May 14, 2017 8:37 PM

    Very unheralded and good player……

  15. fakebookfreddy says: May 14, 2017 9:09 PM

    Was this the dude from Mod Squad?

  16. skyflyer63 says: May 14, 2017 9:18 PM

    What…. All the Heidi’s told me that the 70’s were an abysmal decade when the Vikings owned the Packers… three sacks and a divisional championship…. Hmmm maybe the win loss record was a little closer than they all remember over there to the west.

  17. 1pavikingfan says: May 14, 2017 9:26 PM

    Condolences to Mr. Williams and his family.

  18. igocommando says: May 14, 2017 10:17 PM

    Condolences.

  19. igocommando says: May 14, 2017 10:19 PM

    Btw, skyflyer63….grow up.

  20. Packernet says: May 14, 2017 10:30 PM

    That ’72 Packers’ team and that win in Minnehaha are great childhood memories. Loved Big Cat.

  21. Peter Piper's picks says: May 15, 2017 6:52 AM

    Wow. Never heard of him before this but I’m impressed. RIP dude. Condolences to the family.

  22. Peter Piper's picks says: May 15, 2017 6:53 AM

    fakebookfreddy says:
    May 14, 2017 9:09 PM
    Was this the dude from Mod Squad?

    4 19
    Report comment
    skyflyer63 says:
    May 14, 2017 9:18 PM
    What…. All the Heidi’s told me that the 70’s were an abysmal decade when the Vikings owned the Packers… three sacks and a divisional championship…. Hmmm maybe the win loss record was a little closer than they all remember over there to the west.

    ———————-

    Way to keep those priorities in order guys.

  23. jbarr1 says: May 15, 2017 7:16 AM

    Good player on some rather abysmal teams. You got to remember he replaced an All time great in Willie Davis. He did it quite well. It good to see by all accounts he had a good , full life. That seems to be the exception these day with ex players.

    Just a note that I can’t resist adding. As bad as the Pack was during that era, they won as many Super Bowl as the Vikes did .

    RIP Big Cat

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