By JASON PUGH, Written for the LSWA
NATCHITOCHES – Kyle Williams brought a big crowd of friends from Ruston to Saturday night’s Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and it brought out the emotions from him and everyone else at the Natchitoches Events Center.
The Ruston native and resident, along with Louisiana Tech’s Teddy Allen, were among the 12-member LSHOF Class of 2022 enshrined in front of nearly 700 appreciative people.
A standout first as a freshman running back, but later as a defensive lineman for the Ruston Bearcats, Williams became a starter at LSU as a sophomore, midway through the Tigers’ 2003 national championship season. His time with the Tigers led into a 13-year NFL career including six Pro Bowl appearances with Buffalo – one of the NFL’s most passionate markets.
“I’m super happy for you and your family,” Bills head coach Sean McDermott said in the induction video. “Jill, I hope you don’t cry that crying face you did when Kyle retired. Kyle, I hope you smile a little bit and enjoy the moment you earned.”
Williams smiled plenty during his speech, but when it came time to acknowledge his big group of friends from Ruston and LSU, it was the thought of his wife that nearly made the high-motor defensive tackle come to tears.
“Probably the greatest moment of my career is making a victory lap in Buffalo and getting to go into a secluded room and tell my (five) kids the reason I was able to do that was I made a commitment to be my best every day and do my best,” Williams said. “That’s why we get to experience this weekend. Last but not least – and maybe the shortest – I like to call her the Little General.
“Jill, when I hitched my wagon to your star, it took off. You’re the toughest person I know. You’re a monster. You’re the best. I appreciate you.”
It was a Kleenex moment to end an entertaining on-stage interview of Williams. There was little else but laughs, typically, when Allen was in the LSHOF spotlight as an inductee.
Allen was spotlighted as a Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism winner from the Hall’s parent entity, the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
A statewide writer and columnist now featured in the Online Journals group featuring the Lincoln Parish Journal, the loquacious everyman took a 10-minute break from his traditional master of ceremonies gig to be honored in his first year on the ballot.
“It helps to write like you talk,” said J.J. Marshall, Allen’s longtime friend and co-worker. “If you listen to Teddy and you read Teddy, it’s the same. It’s the way he talks. He doesn’t try to overwrite. Teddy opens up and types it. Here it is. It sounds simple, but a lot of people don’t do that.”
The son of a South Carolina preacher who famously bestowed “The Mailman” nickname on Louisiana Sports Hall of Famer Karl Malone, Allen had one simple way to sum up his journey to the Hall of Fame.
“I’ve led a Forrest Gump-like existence,” he said. “I was working at Beacon Gas in Claiborne Parish, and literally the parish sheriff took me to Ruston and said this is where you’re going to school. I told him no. He said, ‘Yeah, this is gonna happen.’
“There have been a lot of people help me get from Point A to B to C. Such dear friends. I just like to laugh and love to hear you laugh.”
To report an issue or typo with this article – CLICK HERE