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Phat Praise for Phat Pat

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Here's an interesting little column from Gregg Easterbrook, the man behind ESPN.com's "Tuesday Morning Quarterback," where he names his "All-Unwanted All-Pros."  It's a team. . .two teams, actually. . .comprised of players that were waived or otherwise ignored by other teams and are now experiencing great success at the NFL level.

The Beloved Purple place two members on Easterbrooks' squad, both of them on the first team.  Punter Chris Kluwe is one of them. . .remember, Kluwe was originally cut by the Seattle Seahawks in favor of Leo Araguz prior to the 2005 season, and took the Vikings' punting chores away from a struggling Darren Bennett.  Easterbrook highlights that Kluwe had 34 punts killed inside the 20 this year, one of the best numbers in the NFL.

But the icing on the cake is the recognition for the man that we've come to know as The Immovable Object.  Here's what Easterbrook had to say about one Pat Williams:

Tuesday Morning Quarterback 2007 All-Unwanted Player of the Year: Defensive Tackle Pat Williams, Minnesota. A juco transfer, Williams started only 15 games in college, then went undrafted. In his rookie season, he was waived twice from the Buffalo practice squad. Williams did not start a game until his fourth season, and few (non-quarterback) players who are struggling are kept around so long, even at the league-minimum salary. Williams became a starter midway through 2002, when Buffalo was ranked 29th against the rush. The next season, the first full year for Williams, the Bills jumped to eighth against the rush. The following season, Buffalo jumped to seventh. Williams' contract was up, and his agent offered to re-sign him with the Bills for a $5 million bonus, low for a quality NFL starter. But crafty, canny, cagey Tom Donahoe, then Buffalo's general manager, declared Williams washed up and made no offer. Williams signed with Minnesota, where he often is confused with fellow Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams.

The season before Pat Williams arrived, Minnesota was No. 21 against the run. The next season, it rose to 19th, then rose to first, where the Vikings have remained for two seasons, with Pat Williams anchoring the run defense and earning two consecutive Pro Bowl trips to Honolulu. Oh, and the year after Buffalo, then seventh against the run, let Williams go? The Bills fell to 29th against the run, and they have remained near the bottom since. With Buffalo posting consecutive 7-9 seasons in which the Bills haven't been able to stop the run, had everything about the Bills been the same in 2006 and 2007 except they had not given Pat Williams the boot, Buffalo might have made a couple of playoff appearances.

Note: According to the Vikings' official roster, Williams weighs 317 pounds. And if you believe that, I have some securitized subprime mortgages I'd like to sell you.

Yes, it's hard to believe that the man that's now mentioned among the best defensive tackles in the NFL. . .and is easily the league's best run-stopping force. . .was run out of Buffalo a couple of years ago by Tom Donahoe.  Now he's signed with Minnesota for the foreseeable future, and will hopefully continue his level of play for a very long time.

Oh, and Gregg. . .we've been laughing at the "317 pounds" thing for as long as #94 has been in Minnesota.  He and Kevin Williams are both listed at the same weight. . .and since there are many pictures of the two of them standing side by side, anyone that's watched the Vikings over the last three seasons knows just how ludicrous that is.

Keep enjoying your week, ladies and gentlemen!  Oh, and in case you haven't already noticed, the first-round draft order is now over on the right-hand sidebar, and the NFC North standings have also been updated to reflect each team's current station.