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The Stuff of Legends

Reggie Williams '76
Reggie Williams '76

Dean Calland, Yale's 6-foot, 5-inch tight end, was lined up opposite Dartmouth linebacker Reggie Williams '76 in Yale Bowl on a November afternoon in 1975. Calland had a simple strategy: block Williams and, in the process, jam his helmet into Williams's face.

The play unfolded, though not as Calland planned. Williams obliterated Calland, stepping on his face as he charged in to make the tackle.

Calland came to the bench where Seb LaSpina, Yale's offensive coordinator, said, "Calland, if you can't stop that guy we'll have to get someone else in there!"

Calland's reply, which was met with silence, "And who would that be, coach?"

In the Ivy League from 1973-75, no one got the better of Reggie Williams, Dartmouth's All-America and three-time All-Ivy first team linebacker. The psychology major's subsequent 14-year career with the Cincinnati Bengals validated his selection by the National Football Foundation for induction with 11 other major college All-Americas (and two coaches) from across the nation into the College Football Hall of Fame.

"Reggie could literally cover sideline to sideline with his speed and instincts," says Jake Crouthamel, Dartmouth's head coach from 1971-77. "He played a hundred miles an hour on every play ... at a different speed than anyone else."

At 6-1, 215 pounds, Williams was undersized by today's football standards. "I played in an era of fleet linebackers that lasted until (the Giants') Lawrence Taylor came along," he says.

"Jake and (linebacker coach) Rick Taylor taught me the thinking part of the game," says Williams. "Mental preparation was instilled in me in the classrooms and on the football field at Dartmouth."

The value of education is a primary message that Williams delivers today to the thousands of young athletes who come to Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. Williams joined the Walt Disney Company in 1993. Since 1998 he has been vice president of Disney Sports Attractions, overseeing the creation and growth of the 220-acre, state-of-the-art multisport facility that annually hosts over 200,000 athletes of all ages.

Reggie Williams '76
Reggie Williams '76 (center) tackles Harvard's Pat McInally at a 1973 Harvard/Dartmouth game in Cambridge (Dartmouth won 24-18). Williams was recently selected for the National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame. (Photo by Dick Raphael)

He's the 13th Dartmouth player, coach, or athletic administrator to be honored by the College Football Hall of Fame and the first African American to be inducted from the Ivy League since formal Ivy competition began in 1956.

Williams didn't make his mark on Ivy League football only by running through the opposition. Later in that game at Yale over 30 years ago, Calland again found himself facing Williams as Yale lined up for a field goal.

"He was prowling behind the line and thought he had our cadence," says Calland. "I'm 6-5 and he jumped right over my head ... he didn't even touch me."

Unfortunately for Dartmouth, the Yale holder changed the cadence and Williams was offside. "I was so stunned it took me a while to realize I had to move in order to get the penalty."

For once, Dean Calland got the upper hand on Reggie Williams. "I still think of him every time I lift my left arm above my shoulder," says the Pittsburgh lawyer. "I think Reggie invented the 'stinger.'"

By JACK DEGANGE

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Last Updated: 5/30/08