On Friday Night Lights

Why We Love . . . Brian "Smash" Williams

By Jen Chaney

Turn on ESPN right now. There’s a good chance that at this moment or a moment in the very near future, you’ll see a football player who looks and sounds a lot like Smash Williams.

Supremely talented. Completely charismatic. And yes, cocky as all hell, the sort of guy who thinks the game was never played properly until someone first put the ball in his hands and let him run it in for a TD.

Smash was definitely that stereotypical athlete, but one whose arrogance was outweighed by his affability. He had a baby face to go with that swagger, and a vulnerability that made it impossible to pigeonhole him as just another conceited jerk.

As gifted as he was, the path from Dillon Panther to eventual Texas A&M Aggie was not a smooth and easy one for Smash Williams. Smash’s rising star was brought low multiple times, first by the revelation of his steroid use, then by the loss of his scholarship to TMU and a devastating knee injury. As an African American, he also frequently faced racism and the internal conflict that came with it: speak out against bigotry, or focus on silently rising above it? Over the course of the show, Smash did both. Not surprisingly, neither option made the racism go away.

Even if Smash didn’t single-handedly eradicate prejudice in Dillon, Texas (shocker), he did achieve something pretty spectacular: he managed to turn from a cocky high school running back into a grateful, hardworking, and, okay, probably sometimes still cocky,  …

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