The Virginia Tech running back waited in a side room at Radio City Music Hall for 37 picks. Arizona finally called his name at the sixth spot in the second round _ moments before the league was granted a temporary stay against an injunction that blocked its lockout of players.
Hours later, the NFL sent a memo to the 32 clubs that “the prior lockout rules are reinstated effective immediately.”
The teary-eyed Williams embraced the commissioner and former Cardinals cornerback Aenaes Williams, who made the announcement. Ryan Williams‘ family and friends followed him on stage _ about two dozen people in all _ surrounding him and Goodell in a sea of celebratory supporters.
They had no idea Williams would not be allowed to report to the team for anything but a news conference with the lockout reinstated while a court in St. Louis hears the league’s appeal.
“When I went to visit, they told me I would not slip past pick No. 38,” Williams said, his eyes still wet. “And I respect them 100 percent.
Williams left school with two years of eligibility remaining. He rushed for 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns, averaging 5.6 yards per carry, as a redshirt freshman in 2009, but was limited by a hamstring injury last season.
“The passion that I play with separates myself from a lot of people on the job,” he said.
Williams said the prolonged stay wasn’t that bad for his family and friends because “they got another day out in New York.”
Earlier, the fans’ mood over the labor dispute hadn’t changed as, for the second straight night, they showered Goodell with boos. And that was well before the league went back into lockout mode.
Two high-profile quarterbacks preceded Williams and his entourage to the stage.
Cincinnati selected TCU quarterback Andy Dalton. The Bengals’ incumbent, Carson Palmer, has demanded a trade, and the addition of Dalton could pave the way for Palmer’s exit _ whenever the league allows it.
“We spent a lot of time on this, no question,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “It’s a big, important, important pick, important piece.”
San Francisco immediately traded up with Denver to get the next spot and select the next QB: Colin Kaepernick of Nevada. He also was an outstanding baseball prospect, a former pitcher with a powerful arm.
Kaepernick was watching the draft with his family in Turlock, Calif., about a 2-hour drive from the 49ers’ practice facility in Santa Clara. He was so excited he was contemplating making the drive immediately _ even though he might be turned away when he gets there.