Rudolph Joseph Williams
Born: March 16, 1941 (Daisy, Georgia)
Died: January 30, 2015 (Berkeley Heights, New Jersey)
Joe Williams was a fleet running back who spent three seasons in the CFL on three different teams. He won a Grey Cup with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in his rookie campaign of 1962.
The Blue Bombers paired him with Leo Lewis, giving Winnipeg an intimidating backfield punch. In his debut, Williams had seven carries for 50 yards as the Bombers whipped the Calgary Stampeders, 26-1.
The 5-foot-10, 205-pound halfback ran for 201 yards in the 1962 campaign, adding another 40 yards on four receptions. The Bombers went on to win the Grey Cup in a notorious, two-day game remembered as the Fog Bowl.
Williams was traded to the Ottawa Rough Riders for Doug Daigneault, a Canadian halfback, midway through the 1963 season, though Ottawa coach Frank Clair chose to rotate Williams in the halfback spot with Ernie White. “I’m not different than anybody else,’ Williams later complained, “I have to play every game to show anything.” Williams was mostly used as an outside runner in Ottawa’s attack, though he preferred to use his speed to hit the hole at the line. The Ottawa brain trust felt he was too small to be a power runner.
The back spent the next season playing minor pro football with the Quebec Rifles of the United Football League, which he led in scoring with 102 points, including four touchdowns against the hapless Joliet (Ill.) Explorers at Delorimier Downs. Williams stayed with the team when it transferred to Toronto the following season as part of the Continental Football League. Williams led the league in rushing in 1965 with 1,088 yards and in 1966 with 1,250 yards.
Williams was back in the CFL in 1967, joining the struggling Toronto Argonauts. He had 409 yards on 87 carries for a 4.7-yard average. He also averaged 11.4 yards on 10 receptions. He scored the only two touchdowns of his CFL career with the Argos in Centennial Year.
The halfback returned to the Continental circuit in 1968, leading the league in scoring with 108 points for the Chicago Owls. After a second season with the Owls, he completed his pro career in 1970 with the New Jersey Jays of the Atlantic Coast Football League.
Williams, a longtime resident of Rahway, N.J., was a police officer for the Union County prosecutor’s office.
The Grey Cup champion 1962 Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Joe Williams is third row, fourth from right, wearing uniform No. 22.
Ticket brochure for Chicago Owls of Continental Football League.
Montreal Gazette, Sept. 17, 1964.