But the same week that blogs were all getting a kick out of that image, John Thompson Jr. was talking about the nickname itself. This dialog happened when the left tackle was an in-studio guest of Thompson’s on ESPN 980.
“I told him yesterday that Coach Thompson wanted to talk to him,” Doc Walker said to begin the segment.
“I’m all right baby, but how about that Silverback stuff?” Thompson said after greeting Williams, getting straight to the point. “Come on with that. Trent, do you know how many white folks we had to curse at and fuss at that called us monkeys?”
“Yeah,” Williams said. “I understand. But I just feel like this day and age, we’re trying to move past that.”
“And I respect you for that,” Thompson said. “I just said that I’m glad as hell that you’re comfortable with that, and I know your reference does not imply what was implied years ago. But you can understand an old man’s interpretation of it. But let’s talk football. We’re gonna talk alone. You and I, we’ve got to talk by ourself about the Silverback stuff, boy.”
That would probably be an interesting conversation. Speaking of interesting conversations, Williams went on to be harshly critical of his rookie season.
“I watched last year’s film,” he told Walker and Thompson. “I’ve watched it 15 times. I kind of know it like the back of my hand. I just wasn’t impressed with myself at times. I let myself down, and I let my teammates down a lot of the time. I’m just looking to use that year as a building block to better myself and better my career.”
And it sounds like maybe there is some room for improvement in certain off-field things, diamond pendants aside.
“The thing I wish I would have did last year is put myself on a routine,” Williams said. “Just waking up early in the morning, working out, going to practice, coming back. Just putting myself on a structure, getting a body clock and just doing more than what the team asked me to do on my own. Because it took me ‘til the end of the season to figure that out, that you have to be a pro and you’ve got to do things right when people aren’t looking.”
Anyhow, by the end of the interview, Thompson had seemed to soften on the whole nickname thing.
“I may tease you a lot about the Silverback, but I’m really complimentary to you about the fact that you’re comfortable in defining what you are yourself and not concerned about what anybody else would think,” the coach said. “I respect you for that.”