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Five Actors That Could Play a Young Doug Williams

Who could play Doug Williams in his upcoming biopic? Here's Alan Lepore's Top-5 choices and what Doug thinks!

It has been announced that Washington Redskins legend Doug Williams will be getting a movie made based on his life. Williams, 64 years old, was the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl in NFL history. 

Since that historic victory, two other black quarterbacks have raised the Lombardi Trophy, including Patrick Mahomes this past year. 

Before Williams landed in Washington, he was drafted 17th overall in the 1978 draft to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of Grambling State. After a controversial release from Tampa Bay, Williams landed in the USFL and played two seasons there in 1984 and 1985 before the league folded. Joe Gibbs, who was Williams offensive coordinator in Tampa Bay, brought him back into the NFL fold. 

As they say, the rest is history.

With such an important figure in NFL history, you want to make sure that you have the casting right. It is possible that they have an older Williams looking back and reflecting on his time as a young quarterback leading up to the Super Bowl.

Doug has already indicated that he would like Jamie Foxx to play him. I would be hard pressed to disagree with Jamie as an older Doug Williams. I think Shemar Moore would be a nice second choice if Foxx is not available.

But there is a list of other actors who I believe could play the younger Williams and deliver the performance that is necessary to make this movie a can’t miss. 

Doug Williams Helmet up WJLA

Here are my top five. 

Michael B. Jordan

I’ll start with the most recognizable name out of the 5. Michael B. Jordan has played multiple critically acclaimed roles including Wallace in The Wire, Adonis Johnson in the Creed franchise, Bryan Stevenson in Just Mercy, Oscar Grant in Fruitvale Station, and Erik Killmonger in Black Panther. Jordan is one of the most charismatic actors on screen and can hold a scene with anyone that plays opposite of him. Jordan would also be the big name that would draw even the most casual movie goer into the theater.

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Watch’s Chris Russell’s interview of Doug Williams

Anthony Mackie

Anthony Mackie has the chops already built in to play a historic football player. He might not have been as big as Doug Williams, but Nate Ruffin of the 1970 and 1971 Marshall University football team. A person that was critical to the survival of that school’s football team after a horrific loss. Mackie also has experience putting on an Oscar worthy performance as Sgt. JT Sanborn in The Hurt Locker when that movie won Best Picture of the Year in 2010. Mackie has most recently and noticeably seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Sam Wilson, aka Flacon. He might not have the name brand of Michael B. Jordan, but his name does carry weight.

Tristan Mack Wilds

Tristan Mack Wilds would be considered one of those actors that comes out of left field to win this part. Despite having limited credits compared to Jordan or Mackie, Wilds has already proven he has the range and ability to take on such a role. Wilds big break came as Michael Lee in The Wire then went on to play Dixon Wilson in the Beverly Hills 90210 reboot and 2nd Lt. Ray Gannon in the movie Red Tails. Some of the best performances in recent years have come from actors that are not that well known. Tristan could continue that trend in what would be a breakout role for him.

Gaius Charles

Gaius Charles might be best known for his role as Brian “Smash” Williams in Friday Night Lights. Having that time to work on a show about Texas football he can tap into that when on set. Charles has had steady work since appearing on that show with time as Dr. Shane Ross on Grey’s Anatomy and as John on the TV series Taken. Every scene that Gaius is in he has a commanding presence which can also be seen when he played opposite of Michael Weatherly’s Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo on an episode of NCIS.

Jesse Williams

Jesse Williams might be most recognizable for his current role on Gray’s Anatomy as Dr. Jackson Avery since 2009. He has had a variety of other roles since turning from a teacher into an actor including a role in Cabin in the Woods and Brooklyn’s Finest. Williams has the ability to go from compassionate and soft spoken to intense and commanding easier than I have seen from most actors. Being able to carry that into a film about a man who faced so many obstacles and helped pave the way for others could make the portrayal captivating enough for top critical acclaim and maybe whispers of Oscar calling Jesse’s name.

Who would be your choice to play Doug Williams? Sign up free, register and join us by voicing your opinion on our community pages and right below!

Alan Lepore joins while still doing outstanding work as an editor/writer at or @FPC_Redskins. You can follow him on Twitter @AlanLepore or on instagram @leporealan. Alan is a Villanova University MPA Nonprofit Management candidate and is a fundraising/development professional.