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Best Bengals Draft Pick #7: Reggie Williams

hen Joe Montana spiked the football after a touchdown during a regular season game, former Bengals linebacker Reggie Williams was angry, remembering that in the days leading up to Super Bowl XVI.

"I can't speak for everyone, but I can recall vividly seeing Joe Montana spike the football in the end zone," Williams said. "I don't mind a quarterback being happy that he scored a touchdown. But when he spikes a football in the our face, so to speak, I'm going to to remember that," Williams said. "I think I've been working on spiking quarterbacks this week."

As a kid that went from a perceived learning disability -- which simply turned out to be an issue with his hearing -- to graduating from Dartmouth, Williams is one of the classic examples of legendary player and all-around great people. While fighting against the opposing offenses, Williams was taking on much deeper causes at the same time.

Largely credited for his inspiring and courageous work to help end apartheid in South Africa, Williams won the NFL Man of the Year award in 1986 and the Sports Illustrated's Co-Sportsman of the Year in 1987.

As a Cincinnati city councilman, he was a key figure in getting the city to divest the stock in its pension fund from all companies that did business in South Africa -- which Archbishop Desmond Tutu praised as crucial in the fight against apartheid.

Yes. While sitting on the council, helping to end apartheid, he was spiking quarterbacks every week. Do they make players like this anymore?

His struggles continued years after his NFL career concluded, waging a fight to save his leg. Infections forced him to receive multiple knee surgeries in 2008 with a planned third knee replacement delayed until the infection was killed. Williams had as many as 14 knee surgeries since the end of his career, nine of which have come after April 2008.

Lying in his hospital bed, Reggie Williams watched a flow of blood, four or five inches high, coming from his postsurgical knee.

"A fountain!" Williams called it.

"I can’t believe I am going to go out like this," Williams thought to himself on May 2, when the knee began to spout. Days later, he recalled, "You’re waiting for the cavalry to come through the door."

As soon as his leg healed, he had his knee replaced. The post-career of an NFL player chronicled the devastating affects of the sport than Williams' struggles.

Selected in the third round of the 1976 NFL Draft (out of Dartmouth), Reggie Williams would go on to have one of the more effective careers in a Bengals uniform. He was one of a handful of players that played on both Super Bowl teams and recorded 62.5 quarterback sacks, ranking second in franchise history. He also recovered 23 fumbles, picked off 17 passes, tied for most safeties in a career, played the second-most games by any player (206) in team history and recorded the third-highest consecutive games played (137). Williams, a 14-year player, recorded the fourth-most quarterback sacks (11.0) in a season (1981).

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