SIKESTON -- Former Pro Bowl defensive back Aeneas Williams is probably most noted for sending Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young into the broadcast booth.
Now, he helps send others into the journey of life through his ministry.
Pastor Williams will continue his calling on Nov. 18 as a guest speaker at First United Methodist Church in Sikeston as part of their Heartland Leadership Lab.
Williams, an 8-time Pro Bowl selection throughout his 14-year playing career in the NFL, hit Young, who is part of ESPN's Monday Night Football broadcasting team, on a hard, but clean, cornerback blitz during a Monday Night Football game because of a missed block attempt by San Francisco running back Lawrence Phillips. Young was sidelined with a severe concussion the rest of the season, which ended up being his last.
"Ultimately, there's so many lessons you can learn," Williams said. "I ended up hitting Steve Young because a guy had blown an assignment. The one thing I always jokingly tell people is without that hit on Steve, which I certainly prayed for him, he doesn't get to this outstanding broadcasting career.
"I think he has me to thank for getting him to that broadcasting booth. He's very good at it, but at least he got there a lot sooner maybe than he would have."
After an illustrious career with both the Arizona Cardinals and the St. Louis Rams, Williams became the founding pastor of The Spirit Church in St. Louis. Williams has been pastoring there for the last four years with his wife, Tracy, and their four children.
On average, Williams said that he speaks at 40 engagements a year which is one of his true passions in life.
"The main core of when I get an opportunity to go out and speak is to help people reach their potential," Williams said. "So many people go to their grave without having fulfilled their potential. That's part of my life's purpose -- to help facilitate all of us going to the grave empty.
"My passion as a Christian is understanding the Bible and taking the scriptures and the principles out of the Bible that I apply in my own life in a practical way, and then taking that same desire and those same principles to help others understand them so they can be able to use them and be successful in life."
Playing in the NFL, and being one of the best during his time there, has certainly garnered attention when it comes to reaching out to communities or speaking in different towns around Missouri, as well as other places.
Williams said he has been blessed with a career in football which has, in turn, helped his ministry in a plethora of ways. Although, he doesn't lean just on his days in a helmet to reach others.
"The platform of playing in the National Football League gets you through the door," said Williams. "But, it's making sure that I have substance with the message. It does help, because when people realize a person has played 14 years in the National Football League and has played it at the highest level it can be played, it at least initially gets people to listen up to see what you have to say."
Williams was drafted in the third round by the Cardinals in 1991 and burst on the scene during his rookie season. He tied for the league lead in interceptions as a cornerback.
Two interceptions by Williams in 1998, helped give Arizona their first playoff win since 1947 over Troy Aikman and the Dallas Cowboys, which was the only winning season Williams was apart of during his 10 years with the Cardinals.
Although losses came more often than wins while with Arizona, Williams was taught a valuable lesson which he continues to use today.
"It was in (Arizona) where I learned that you have to continue to develop yourself and be the best you can be regardless of the wins and losses of your team," he said.
He was traded to St. Louis in 2001, which led to a position change to free safety. In two playoff games against the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles, Williams intercepted three passes and recovered a fumble to help propel the Rams into Super Bowl XXXVI. They lost, however, to the New England Patriots, 20-17.
Williams retired during the 2005 season, ending his career with 795 tackles, 55 interceptions and nine defensive touchdowns. Williams' 55 picks, ranks him 17th All-Time in the NFL for most career interceptions.
"The amazing benefits that are given to you after you've finished the game, based on how you play the game, has been very eye-opening," Williams said when looking back on his playing career. "Simply meaning, the amount of people that have come up to me and shared how their level of enjoyment of watching the Rams or the Cardinals, even when we were losing, their enjoyment was fulfilled because they can recall how I played the game."
Not only does Williams reach out to communities, he also mentors younger players in the game today with the same message of reaching full potential.
"I've seen a number of guys leave the game saying to themselves 'Man, if I had just worked harder, if I just reached out to other guys in wisdom. I just don't want guys to kick themselves after they have left the game because they didn't put everything they had in it to be as successful as they could be."
Williams will be speaking at the First United Methodist church at 11 a.m.