Work in Sports
A little extra rest
Williams shows up at camp after mulling retirement
WICHITA FALLS, Texas (AP) -- Erik Williams thought about walking away from the NFL with the Pro Bowl as his last game.
Then he realized he still could do that by playing this season.
After spending the last month deciding whether he still wanted to play football, Williams rejoined his Dallas Cowboys teammates Tuesday to finally start preparing for the upcoming season.
"I wanted to leave on top and I was going to leave with a Pro Bowl," said Williams, who has made three of the last four and four in his career. "But I thought why not get another one and keep getting them and let them add up.
"I'm not ready to move on yet. I still have a lot to give to this game."
Not right away, though. Williams will be eased back into his job at right tackle, making Solomon Page the likely starter Saturday night against Denver. Williams should be ready for the Sept. 3 opener against Philadelphia.
"I just got my head right, I can't get on the field right now," Williams said. "I'll take my time. I'm a veteran guy and I know what's expected and I know how to go about it."
Williams was on the field for practice Tuesday afternoon, with ice wrapped around a knee much of the time. When the session ended and the team gathered for their post-practice words from coach Dave Campo, they raised their arms and chanted, "Welcome back, Big E."
Although Williams worked out on his own during his absence, he's still a few pounds overweight. He said the weight should come off within two weeks.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones excused Williams' absence from the start. The lineman was not fined, although league rules would have allowed the team to charge him up to $5,000 per day -- a tab of nearly $150,000.
Had Williams retired, he would've had even larger bill: $1.6 million in signing bonus owed for the two years left on his contract. By returning, Williams gets to keep that money and will pocket another $1.85 million in salary this season and next.
"No matter how much money you put in front of a guy, if you don't love the game anymore it's not worth it," Williams said. "I have enough money."
There was speculation that Williams, like other players in the past, merely took a month off while the Cowboys spent the last four weeks sweating through practices in Wichita Falls and making a lengthy journey to Tokyo for a preseason game.
Campo gave Williams the benefit of the doubt.
"I can't get into the mind of Erik Williams," Campo said. "Because of his situation, what I know of it, I think he was contemplating retiring and I think he thought better about it."
Williams, who turns 32 the first week of the season, is going into his 10th year. He's one of nine players remaining from Dallas' last Super Bowl champion and he joins Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith as the only offensive starters who were on all three of the Cowboys' title teams in the 1990s.
Cornerback Kevin Smith, who also won three rings, remains absent and considering retiring. Smith, however, played in the first two preseason games before leaving camp.