Ben Williams, the first African American drafted out of Ole Miss into the NFL, died from natural causes Monday, the Bills announced. Williams was 65.
The Bills selected Williams in the third round in 1976. The defensive lineman spent his entire career in Buffalo, retiring after the 1985 season.
Williams, who had the nickname “Gentle Ben,” earned his only Pro Bowl in 1982.
Hall of Fame pass rusher Bruce Smith often has credited Williams with helping Smith with his technique in Smith’s rookie season.
Williams endowed the Ben Williams Minority Scholarship Fund at Ole Miss in 1992. He is a member of the Ole Miss Team of the Century, and in 1997, he was the first African American from Ole Miss inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.