Pittsburgh Steelers: Vince Williams has became more than a player in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 14: Telvin Smith /

Everyone who watched the Pittsburgh Steelers defense this season saw something was different.

Not everyone had high hopes for Vince Williams coming into the 2017 season. The fifth-year linebacker was starting to become known as a lifetime backup before Lawrence Timmons decided to chase the money to Miami.

He wasn’t the new draft pick or free agent signing. Vince Williams was the next-man-up in a situation he didn’t plan to be in this season. At one time, Williams was the future inside linebacker of the Steelers. Then, Ryan Shazier got drafted.

That’s where the story of Pittsburgh’s defense began. Not this season as Williams took over the starting job and proved he’s one of the best in the league. In 2014, when the Steelers decided Williams wasn’t the answer; Shazier was.

Williams told Steelers media everything. How he was mad, upset and in a dark place when the team went with the young Ohio State alumni. That his goal wasn’t to be a teammate to Shazier, but to outplay him and earn his spot above the first-round pick.

That never happened. Williams learned quick that Shazier wasn’t going to overlook his talent. When it came to improving, many people born with natural talent to Shazier’s extent seem to live off of it. For Shazier, he continued to make himself better.

Eventually, Williams gave in. Once he realized there was no out-working Shazier, he began to respect him. Instead of competing, these two starting supporting each other.

Which brings us here. 2018 was the first time Steelers Nation got to witness the Williams, Shazier combination. Quiet frankly, it was more enjoyable to watch than anyone expected. The way these two vibed on the field was something special. Play after play, at least one of them was involved, as they quickly became the rocks of the defense.

Then, the unthinkable happened. Shazier suffered an injury all football players fear. His spinal injury removed feeling in his legs and for a few weeks, the inside linebacker went through surgery and rehab trying to regain feeling in his lower half.

It was then that Williams became way more to this team than anyone ever imagined. Putting 50 on the back of his helmet wasn’t just to show support, but to show that this team never forgets their brother. Williams became a voice that told Pittsburgh, we have something to play for, and that is our leader; Shazier.

Williams has engraved himself in this city. What he represents to Pittsburgh is now more than a football player. He is hope to a team who lost someone they’ll never be able to replace.

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Everyone is trying to be the best, but when you look past the competition, embracing football for the brotherhood sport it is, is bigger than any award a player can receive.

Williams and Shazier show us all that no matter what, there’s always reason to #Shalieve.