Williams, the Vikings 317-pound defensive tackle, is also their resident gear-head. When he is not stuffing runs, he is pimping rides. Williams is part owner of Automotive Concepts, a 17,000-square foot shop outside Minneapolis that bills itself as "an industry leader in automotive restyling." When a Viking wants to customize his car and dent his signing bonus, he just hands the keys over to Williams, usually along with a five-figure check. The car comes back in a few weeks, tricked out to specification.
Perusing the Vikings parking lot like a proud father, Williams said: "Just about every one of these is mine." Some of them are literally his. Williams keeps 12 cars at a given time and all of them are for sale. He buys them, accessorizes them and then flips them. Williams does not usually get under the hood himself, but he does most of his own designs. "
Williams grew up in Monroe, La., car crazy before he was old enough to drive. "I looked up to the drug dealers because their cars were so nice, but I knew what they were doing was wrong," Williams said. "I told myself I would do it the right way."
He signed with the Bills as an undrafted free agent in 1997, and four years later, launched his own automotive customizing business in Buffalo. The business did well, but Williams sold it when he signed with the Vikings in 2005. In order to acquaint himself with his new home, Williams spent hours driving around Minneapolis, often with no clue where he was going. One day, while lost, he found Automotive Concepts and walked in.
Williams, needless to say, was good for business. Automotive Concepts now counts customers from the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball. Just about anybody who played with Williams in Buffalo gets his car done in Minnesota. Williams beams when he sees an "AC" sticker on the back of a car, the logo for Automotive Concepts. Even Vikings coach
Williams is built sort of like an SUV himself, with a motor that never gives out. He helped the Vikings hold Carolina to 45 yards rushing Sunday, one week after they held Indianapolis to 25 yards on the ground. With Williams,
The Vikings went into this season with Super Bowl aspirations and
For Williams's sake, the Vikings have to win now, or at least soon. He is 35 and the next few years he will likely retire to his home back in Monroe, with its nine-car garage. He plans to turn his hobby into a full-time job, accessorizing cars for anybody who can afford his services, even quarterbacks who have given his team a particularly hard time.
Spoken like a true car salesman.