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The legendary Reggie Williams on the Bengals’ current linebackers and areas of improvement

The Hall of Fame-caliber linebacker, who played in both Super Bowl XVI and Super Bowl XXIII, talked to us about everything from football to Diana Ross.

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

One of the Ring of Honor candidates is Reggie Williams, who played linebacker for the Bengals from 1976 to 1989, including both Super Bowls in that time frame.

Williams is the most prolific linebacker in franchise history, holding records for the most fumble recoveries in franchise history (23) and most sacks (62.5), interceptions (16), and tackles by a linebacker.

But he’s far more interesting than his on the field play. Not only was he the Walter Payton Man of the Year (1986), the Byron White Humanitarian of the Year (1985), and Sports Illustrated Co-Sportsman of the Year (1987), but Williams is the only professional athlete to hold political office while active. He served on the Cincinnati City Council his last two years in the league. He then oversaw the creation of Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex.

We had the chance to chat with this marvelous man recently. You can watch the interview below:

Here are some quotes from the interview on the topics of:

The Bengals’ current linebackers

[Germaine Pratt and Logan Wilson] are both great tacklers. They’re smart players. They think well. They anticipate well. You know, injuries are part of the game, but Logan seemed to play well coming off of his shoulder injury. Germaine Pratt played consistently. I am continuing to look forward to them playing and getting better. And adding that ability to put pressure on the quarterback is something that will benefit the whole defense and benefit either one of their careers.

How he ended up being drafted by the Bengals

The Dallas Cowboys lied to me. They told me I was gonna be drafted in the first round. And by the time I was still around in the third round, I was personally kind of desperate. I had been drafted by the Toronto Argonauts in the first round. And so when the Bengals finally selected me, I had never been to Cincinnati before. I had never really watched them play even though they’d been around. Now, I was so excited that they drafted me. And then on the my first day I was in for rookie camp, I met Mike Brown. We took a picture together. And from that point in time, I wanted to make Mike Brown proud of me... He expressed years later that he knew more about me being at Dartmouth than any other general manager, so he took me off the board before someone else could.

Being a councilman and pro football player

Sam Wyche and Mike Brown both allowed me to miss Wednesday, which is a very important day in preparation for the week’s opponent, because that’s when you install your defense. But that was also City Council day. So you definitely couldn’t [miss] that. I went to City Council during the day off, which was Tuesday. And on Mondays, I would work out in the morning and then go to City Council in the afternoon. But I think it really floated everyone’s boat. Everyone got better. If someone’s doing two jobs at the same time, my teammates really were putting extra time into that one job.”

In case you’re wondering, Williams continued to be a stellar player those two years he served as councilman, right before retirement, even leading the team in tackles in Super Bowl XXIII and sacking Joe Montana.

His love for the franchise

I treasure and cherish the opportunity to be one of the pallbearers for Paul Brown when he passed away. It was one of the things that was sort of unplanned. I showed up unannounced at the funeral. But Al Hines, who was the business manager at the time, came up to me as I was signing in, and asked me if I would do that. It was such a great honor. So I’m very supportive of the Brown family and all of the love they’re bringing to the city of Cincinnati right now.

What the team needs to win a Super Bowl

We’re gonna see how good these offensive linemen are for the Cincinnati Bengals. I hope that they all exceed their expectations. And if they do, then they will have fixed the biggest flaw that a championship team had that didn’t win a championship. If Joe Burrow had more time to look down field, if they had an opportunity to open up more holes for their running backs, they certainly can be an even more potent offense. The only thing that I see that they need, on top of the offensive linemen that they’ve already added, is someone who is a sack threat, someone who the other team has to almost change their offensive game plan to account for, that can be a defensive line or defense end. It could be an outside linebacker, it could be someone else, but they need someone that causes nightmares to the offensive coordinator of every team that they played... To really put the fear of a blitz package, whatever that blitz package is, or in your standard defense to have a defensive lineman that, time and time again, is breathing down the quarterback’s neck, that is definitely something that championship teams have at their disposal. The Los Angeles Rams, there was no doubt that that was one of the big parts of their game.

Which Bengals deserve to be inducted into the Hall of Fame

Ken Riley definitely deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. His 65 interceptions are much more than several cornerbacks that are already in the Hall of Fame. Ken Anderson was one of the premier quarterbacks of the early 80s. His completion percentage is one of the best all time. Isaac Curtis was a breakthrough wide receiver. He was the kind of wide receiver that extended the endzone, that really challenged whatever defense you had, because he was going to run right by you. He had that kind of world class speed. So definitely those three individuals need to join Anthony Munoz in the Hall of Fame. So I look forward to whatever process the Hall of Fame is coming up with, because it seems like they’re going to come up with a process to admit even more players who have been overlooked in the past. And if that happens, then I definitely expect to see Kenny Anderson, Ken Riley, and Isaac Curtis to be the top candidates for the Cincinnati Bengals to get the next inclusions into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

You can also listen on iTunes or using the player below:

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