Every day, the NFL transaction wire buzzes with updates on player movements, ranging from signings and releases to roster placements and injury reserve assignments. Within this routine stream of information, some transactions make headlines while others fade into the background. This week, however, a particularly peculiar move caught the attention of many.
The Philadelphia Eagles decided to part ways with offensive tackle Bernard Williams, a move that raised eyebrows given his unique circumstances. What makes this situation stand out is the fact that Williams is 51 years old and last played in the NFL almost three decades ago.
Back in 1994, Williams was a first-round draft pick for the Eagles, and his rookie year showed promise. However, a suspension before the 1995 season, triggered by a positive marijuana test, altered the trajectory of his NFL career. Despite the setback, Williams continued to play football, finding opportunities in the XFL, the Canadian Football League, and Arena Football. Yet, the general assumption was that his connection to the NFL had long been severed.
So, why did the Eagles choose to cut ties with Williams now? According to Williams himself, it seems to be linked to a recent application he submitted for benefits intended for former players.
Williams recounted the surprising revelation: “I was actually at work when a kid I coached in high school, Ventell Boulware — a scout for the Packers — called and asked when was the last time I did anything with the NFL. I told him I had just applied for some benefits recently, and he said, ‘Well, your name just came across the [transaction] wire.’ I’m like, ‘For what?’ And he was like, ‘The Eagles released you.’ I had some kind of idea, but they never released me. And I always wondered what happened with that. When I went to Canada, the Eagles kept my rights through all of that. They never released my rights. But I had no idea that I was still on the roster 29 years later.”
Despite the unexpected turn of events, Williams expressed his continued support for the Eagles and shared his enjoyment of their recent success. It turns out that, technically, he remained an Eagle for almost three decades without being aware of it until this week.