FOXBORO MA - SEPTEMBER 12: Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals passes as teammate Bobbie Williams #63 holds off Vince Wilfork #75 of the New England Patriots during the NFL season opener on September 12 2010 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Bengals 38-24. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
On Friday, there was a bit of a shock sent through Bengaldom when we all learned that longtime Bengals guard, Bobbie Williams, signed with the divisional rival Baltimore Ravens. Nobody seemed to know how Williams' rehab was going or if he would even get a job in the NFL again, but Baltimore came knocking with a two-year deal. It makes sense for them, as they lost Ben Grubbs to free agency and have a need for a veteran at the position.
Though the Bengals don't really need a guard at this point, Williams would have provided locker room stability had they decided to re-sign him. Needless to say, he was a solid player for a better part of eight years in Cincinnati. For the Bengals, the fans and Williams, the departure is bittersweet, especially since he landed with a rival. Williams addressed the Bengals organization and their fans after his recent contract with the Ravens (via Joe Reedy of The Cincinnati Enquirer), letting them know his appreciation.
"To the people of Cincinnati it has been an honor and a privilege. I want to thank Mike Brown, Marvin Lewis and Paul Alexander for giving me the chance and I have nothing but respect for the organization. I understand we weren’t able to work things out and it was time to move on. The opportunity in Baltimore presented itself, I talked to my wife and we prayed on it."
Class act, all the way. It's a stark contrast to a number of former Bengals players who have left the organization with a bitter taste in their mouth and took their frustrations to the media. This shouldn't come as a big surprise because of what we have become accustomed to with Williams' character. Reedy notes that Williams' recent rehab stint with the club showed the mutual respect that both sides had for one another.
To show the level of respect that the organization had for Williams, he was still rehabbing at Paul Brown Stadium and was in the locker room on Monday. In the case of a free agent, that is an extreme rarity.
What a compliment to Williams by the Bengals. Nevertheless, it's going to be very different seeing Williams line up against his former team in Week One on Monday Night Football and WIlliams feels the same way:
Said Williams of facing the Bengals in the opener: "It is going to be interesting to say the least but I’m pretty sure it is going to be fun. It will be familiar faces, it will just be different color uniforms."
Let's hope that for once, Bobbie doesn't get the best of his competition that week.