For Arizona Cardinals fans, the day couldn’t come soon enough.
Aeneas Williams was the beloved son of the organization from 1991-2000, the type of shutdown cornerback who did his talking with his play rather than with his mouth.
But Williams can do all the talking he wants these days, after all he’s set to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday.
Williams is part of a Class of 2014 that features the likes of Michael Strahan, Walter Jones, Derrick Brooks, Andre Reed, Ray Guy and Claude Humphrey.
Here’s a look back at his Hall of Fame career by the numbers:
As a franchise, the Cardinals have sent a handful of players, coaches and owners to the Hall of Fame, dating back to their days in St. Louis and Chicago. From Charles Bidwill to Dan Dierdorf to Ernie Nevers and Dick “Night Train” Lane. But Williams, however, will become the first player drafted by the Cardinals since their move to Arizona to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Although Williams suffered through years of futility as a Cardinal, he did have a big hand in securing the franchise’s first playoff victory in the Valley. In Arizona’s 20-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys in Jan. 1999, Williams picked off Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman on two separate occasions. He would also record an interception a week later in the team’s 42-21 loss in the divisional round against the Minnesota Vikings.
And speaking of the NFL Draft, the Canton-bound defensive back was not highly touted coming out of Southern University. The Cardinals selected Williams with the 59th pick in the third round of 1991 NFL Draft — the same round they selected Tyrann Mathieu almost a year ago.
Hawaii became a home away from home for Williams during his career with the Cardinals and Rams. Williams made the Pro Bowl in eight of his 14 seasons, including six consecutive appearances from 1994-1999.
In his career, Williams picked off 55 passes, including six years in Arizona where he had at least five. But statistically, no season in his career will ever top the one he put together in 1994. That year, the now 46-year-old led the league with an astounding nine interceptions. He would also go on to lead the league in pick-sixes twice (1995 and 2001).
Williams finished his illustrious career with 12 total touchdowns, none more memorable than the 104-yard fumble return for a touchdown he had in a game against the Washington Redskins back on Nov. 5, 2000. To this day, he and Jack Tatum still hold the record for the longest fumble return.
Although he and Tatum share one record, Williams does have one all to himself. The soon-to-be Hall of Fame inductee finished his career with an NFL-high 268 fumble return yards.
Part of what made Williams’ career so remarkable was the type of longevity he was able to have despite the extremely physical nature he played the game with. Williams made 180 consecutive starts from 1991 and 2002 and never missed a single game in a Cardinals’ uniform.
Although he and Jack Tatum share one record, Williams does hold one all to himself. The soon-to-be Hall of Fame inductee finished his career with an NFL-high 268 fumble return yards.
Following the 1999-2000 season, the NFL named Williams as the Bart Star Award recipient. The award was reflective not only of Williams production on field, but his contributions at home and in the community. Williams was the first Cardinal to win the award. Former quarterback Kurt Warner would also later lay claim to the honor (2009-10) as a member of the Cardinals.