Former Patriots nose tackle Lester Williams died at his home in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday. He was 58.
Williams played in 40 games for the Patriots from 1982-1985, including as a starter in Super Bowl XX. During his four-year career in New England, Williams made 39 solo tackles, 60 assists, five sacks, three fumble recoveries and five pass breakups.
The second of the Patriots’ two first-round draft picks (27th overall) in the 1982 NFL Draft, Williams quickly established himself as a mainstay on the defensive front. He started all nine games during his NFL strike-shortened rookie year.
The University of Miami product was a part of a Patriots draft class that included the No. 1 overall pick, defensive end Kenneth Sims, running back Robert Weathers (second round), Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett (second round), guard Darryl Haley (second round), receiver Cedric Jones (third round), linebacker Clayton Weishuhn (third round) and free safety Fred Marion (fifth round), a fellow All-American with Williams at Miami.
“I am very proud to be part of the 1982 draft class, and having Lester Williams as a part of that class made playing defense a lot more fun,” Tippett said, via quotes distributed by the team. “As a nose tackle, Lester was a key to our success in the 3-4 defense. I remember how frustrated opposing centers became playing against him. He anchored the line for us and was a great teammate to play alongside. On behalf of the entire organization, our thoughts and prayers are with Lester’s family, friends and former teammates who are mourning his loss today.”
Williams was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 1999, and his 210 career tackles remain the most in school history for a defensive tackle. He also was a member of the USA Junior Olympic team as a heavyweight wrestler and was the state heavyweight champion while at Carol City (Fla.) High School.