Darrent Williams: Once a Bronco, Always a Bronco


Jan 12, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos fans pose for a photo prior to the game against the San Diego Chargers during the 2013 AFC divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Eight years ago, I woke up with the expectation it was a typical New Year’s Day.

It was a chance for a clean slate and to start anew. What would 2007 have in store? Would it turn into a Bob Ross masterpiece of happy trees and rocks? Or would it turn into more of a Vincent van Gogh work of the unpredictable and unfamiliar?

That is until the news of Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams sank my heart and crushed my soul.

As I think about his murder outside a Denver nightclub all of these years later, the same happens all over again.

Williams was 24 years old and with the best chapters of his life yet to be written.

I ache for his mother who had to bury her son.

I feel for his friends and family.

I wonder what could have been, the man he would have become and the life he was robbed of living. Marriage. Kids. Joy. Pain. Failure. Success. All aspects of life we often take for granted.

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I think about all of the people who never got to witness that genuine smile. When you saw it, you couldn’t help but smile back and feel as if you were in the presence of someone special.

After I wipe the tears from my eyes, I think about the magic he was robbed of creating at Mile High.

Williams would have played the last eight seasons opposite Champ Bailey. Williams was turning into a special player and with those two cornerbacks on the Broncos’ roster, it would have been fun to watch.

Bailey and Williams would have played off of each other, learned from each other and made each other better. There’s no doubt it would have been one of the best defensive-back duos in the NFL and perhaps in history.

Then it returns to the man he was and that smile.

At times, you marveled at how someone could always smile when there was no earthly reason to do so.

Williams must not have taken life too seriously if he was able to brush his blunders aside and joke about them like he always did. If you didn’t know better, you might have thought he was an immature, spoiled kid who didn’t get it.

Jan 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and executive vice president of football operations John Elway before the 2013 AFC championship playoff football game against the New England Patriots at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Over time, you would come to realize this was a young man who was wise well beyond his 24 years. He was well spoken, eloquent, funny, encouraging and honest. If only more people had those special abilities.

“All of us are devastated by this tragedy,” Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said in a statement released by the team at the time. “To lose a young player, and more important, a great young man such as Darrent Williams, is incomprehensible. To lose him in such a senseless manner as this is beyond words. My deepest feelings, all my thoughts and prayers, go out to Darrent’s mother and family. The entire Broncos’ organization shares my grief. Darrent was a wonderful young man, and his passing is a great loss for his family, the Broncos and the city.”

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  • Just eight hours earlier before his life was taken, Williams was part of a disheartening 26-23 loss when the Broncos saw their season end to the San Francisco 49ers. Denver was downtrodden; in utter disbelief its season was over.

    The team had no idea another loss was just around the corner. The players and coaches didn’t know the cruel hand life would deal to one of their teammates, one of their brothers, only hours later.

    “If this team is the heart of this city (Denver),” Broncos safety Nick Ferguson said in a statement, “then it is bleeding right now.”

    As the slate is wiped clean and another chapter gets written in my life with the start of 2015, I think of Williams.

    After a few minutes and tears, I remember that smile and I flash one of my own. I think of what Broncos Country really means, and that’s all Williams is.

    It’s not just a phrase or place, it’s a way of life.

    Mile High Salute, Darrent Williams. Once a Bronco, always a Bronco.

    Jan 12, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos fans in the grandstands against the Baltimore Ravens during the AFC divisional round playoff game at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports