Every day, the NFL transaction wire contains news of players being signed or cut, placed on an active roster or on injured reserve. Some of those transactions are big news; others are mere footnotes. One from this week was particularly strange.
The Eagles cut offensive tackle Bernard Williams. Who is 51 years old and last played in the NFL 29 years ago.
Williams was a first-round draft pick of the Eagles in 1994 and had a good rookie year, but he was suspended before the 1995 season after testing positive for marijuana. He tested positive again during his suspension, and he ended up never being reinstated. He kept playing football, with stints in the XFL, the Canadian Football League, and Arena Football, but everyone seemed to assume his days of having anything to do with the NFL were long since expired.
So why did the Eagles just cut him this week? Williams says he assumes it has something to do with a benefit for former players he recently applied for.
“I was actually at work when a kid I coached in high school, Ventell Boulware — a scout for the Packers — called asked when was the last time I did anything with the NFL,” Williams told Andrew DiCecco of InsideTheBirds.com. “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.”
Williams said he’s still an Eagles fan and has been enjoying their recent success. He just didn’t know he was still an Eagle, technically, until this week.