PHOENIX — Aeneas Williams spent most of his NFL career on bad teams.
But that didn’t prevent him from pursuing excellence, becoming one of the best cornerbacks in the league and earning a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In his 10 seasons with Arizona, the Cardinals had one winning season.
Despite that, he either led or shared the NFL lead in interceptions three times and made six Pro Bowls.Williams never missed a game and started all but one. He had a streak of 157 consecutive starts.
He never let the poor play around him affect him.
“Just refuse to become a loser even though we weren’t winning a whole lot of games,” Williams said.
He finally made it to the playoffs with the Cardinals in 1998, then intercepted two passes as Arizona stunned the Cowboys in Dallas in the first round.
“I really saw the makings of what the current (Cardinals) organization is experiencing now,” Williams said.
The Cardinals slipped back into their inept ways and, after a decade in the desert, Williams left to join a winner.
On draft day of 2001, the Cardinals traded him to the St. Louis Rams for draft picks.
That year, for just the second time in his career, Williams was in the playoffs.
He started at left cornerback for the Rams, and St. Louis reached the Super Bowl, where it lost to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots 20-17.
Williams was moved to safety in the final years of his career, retiring in 2004.
“Everything he did, whether it was on or off the field, he did with a tremendous amount of honesty and dignity,” said Dave McGinnis, who coached Williams in Arizona.
Williams had 55 interceptions, including eight seasons with at least four. He made the Hall of Fame in his third time as a finalist.
Now a pastor in St. Louis, Williams will be introduced at the Hall of Fame induction by his father, Lawrence, whom he credits for molding him into the man he became.
“I didn’t have to look outside my home for a hero,” Williams said.
The rest of today’s inductees: Derrick Brooks, Ray Guy, Claude Humphrey, Walter Jones, Andre Reed and Michael Strahan.