Chris Williamson remembers the white Hummer limousines rolling up to the field before the champion ship game, the opposing team celebrating in style before they even kicked off.
He was 9 years old.
“They hadn’t lost a game in two or three years and they were the best team in that league,” he recalled. “These are 9-year-old kids now, pulling up in limousines. They’re expecting to win.”
Williamson’s team, which had lost to that squad by the mercy rule during the regular season, wound up winning the title, 14-0.
It’s a cute story, and one that is made all the more pertinent because Williamson, a seventh-round draft pick by the Giants this year, will be teammates with second-year wide receiver Darius Slayton . . . who played on that rolling-in-style opposing team.
“It’s something I still hold over Darius to this day,” Williamson said with a laugh when he spoke with reporters on Wednesday.
Shortly after Williamson was selected as a defensive back from the University of Minnesota, it was Slayton who took to Twitter and gave the pick his seal of approval.
“We grew up playing football against each other, running track against each other,” Williamson said.
Back in high school, they even were matched up against each other, but at the time, Williamson was a wide receiver and Slayton was a cornerback. Now they’ll have their sides of the line of scrimmage flip-flopped.
Williamson said he changed from offense to defense because at 6 feet tall, he was told by coaches and mentors — including former Falcons cornerback Ray Buchanan — that he would be average size for a receiver but big for a cornerback.
The Giants want to make him a “star,” which is what they call the position that swings between safety and nickel cornerback. “He’ll bring some position flexibility in the defensive backfield,” Joe Judge said. “He’s got a good size and speed combination. We look for him to compete at multiple positions this year.”
Williamson will have to work to make the team as a seventh-rounder, one of four the Giants added this weekend. But if his youth football experience against Slayton taught him anything, it’s that it is not how you arrive at the field but what you do when you get on it that counts.
That day more than a decade ago, Slayton and his crew hopped out of their rides thinking they’d already won.
“I don’t even think they rode the limos home,” Williamson said.
There are sure to be plenty of first-round picks from this draft who arrived in figurative limos but soon will be left thumbing for a ride after they are quickly dismissed by the NFL.
And there will be lots of seventh-rounders and undrafted players like Williamson who will stick around and, years from now, be able to chuckle about the pomposity of it all.