When Tampa Bay selected former Syracuse WR Mike Williams in the 4th round of the NFL draft, SU fans everywhere collectively had the same thought...
It wasn't that long ago that Mike Williams was a sure-thing 1st-round pick by the time he graduated. He was en route to breaking every school record out there, eclipsing players like Art Monk and Marvin Harrison. That was before he got kicked out of school for cheating. And before he quit the team altogether two seasons later. Now, he should probably thank his lucky stars he got drafted at all.
Maybe Mike will be the "steal of the draft," like he claims he is. He's certainly got the talent for it. But he's also got a track record for making terrible decisions. Time will tell if he's ready to mature. The Bucs certainly made sure to do their due diligence on the risky pick.
General manager Mark Dominik quickly made his way to the media room to explain some details about the decision. He said the Bucs spent more time evaluating Williams than any other player in the draft. They investigated his background thoroughly and have a plan for integrating him that they feel will keep him on the right path.
"I think we'll reap the rewards for that (extra effort)," Dominik said.
So the question for Syracuse fans is...will we root for Mike in the pros? The way I see it, that depends on how Mike handles himself from here on out.
Since he quit the team, Mike has played the role of the victim. He's gone out of his way to let people know he was kicked off the team and that he did not quit. Without saying it directly, he's poked at head coach Doug Marrone's credibility. And he's boasted to anyone listening that he's going to be a star, which might be confidence but borders on cocky for a guy in his situation.
Here's the part Mike doesn't seem to grasp yet. If he did quit, well then that's on him. But if he was kicked off the team, THAT'S STILL ON HIM. He's the guy who walked back into a zero tolerance situation after GETTING CAUGHT CHEATING. He's the guy who got suspended for violating team rules and missed the Akron game. He's the guy who broke team rules AGAIN to go to a casino DURING A GAME WEEK.
Regardless of who did what and how it played out, Mike Williams is 100% responsible for everything that happened to Mike Williams.
You can live life as a victim or you can take control of your life and your destiny. However Mike Williams chooses to conduct himself as a Buccaneer will determine how Syracuse fans feel about him moving forward.
The first thing he might want to do is send Doug Marrone a thank-you card. Despite the way their relationship ended, Marrone still said enough positive things about the WR to let the Bucs feel better about drafting Williams.
"I’ve had multiple conversations with Doug Marrone, the head coach at Syracuse University, and at the end of the day, I feel very good about our selection and about the talent he brings. I wouldn’t bring somebody in here if I didn’t feel comfortable about it."
Some links and notes below. And if you really don't understand how, in a draft that so much about "character" that Mike Williams got drafted before class-act Art Jones, St. Pete Times' columnist Gary Shelton tells it to you straight. Williams has talent. Character schmaracter.
- Meet Your Newest Buccaneer: WR Mike Williams...Buc'em
- The Mike Williams Timeline...TNIAAM
- Tampa Bay Has No Idea What They’re Getting Themselves Into...Otto's Army
- Mike Williams Q&A...National Football Post