Let’s presume you’re old enough to remember any of the following:
- Life before the Internet.
- TVs with only four stations, not to mention a fuzzy picture.
- The El Camino.
- The Ohio Players.
- Doug Williams as a thriving, young NFL quarterback.
If any of that made you grin, you probably remember where you were on Jan. 31, 1988, when Williams carved out a special place in Super Bowl history by carving up the Denver Broncos.
In one of the game’s greatest performances, Williams threw for a then-record 380 yards and four touchdowns, leading the Washington Redskins to a 42-10 wipeout in Super Bowl XXII.
One other fairly important thing: In doing so, Williams became the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
Alabama A&M coach Anthony Jones sure remembers that moment.
A seldom-used tight end on that ’87 Redskins team, he was there. He was close — much closer to Williams than most.
The night before the biggest game of their lives, Jones and Williams were roommates.
How did they pass the time? What did they say to each other?
“For me, it’s kind of hard to talk about,” said Williams, now in his second coaching stint at Grambling, his beloved alma mater.
“We were roommates, but I’d had a four-hour root canal. I was in a lot of pain. ... But we played the whole season together. We always talked because we were on the same side of the ball.”
We all use well-worn adages — it really is a small world ... the more things change, the more they stay the same — to help ourselves survive everyday life, if not marvel at it.
Sometimes, these adages are actually on the money.
Since that cool night in San Diego, Jones and Williams have met many times.
At noon Saturday in Birmingham, Ala., they’ll meet again. Williams and Grambling face Jones and Alabama A&M in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship Game.
Jones is in his 10th season at Alabama A&M, and as the dean of SWAC coaches, he squared off against Williams during his first turn as Grambling’s coach, from 1998-2003. They met in the 2000 and ’02 title games. Williams won both times.
“I know people refer to me as the dean of the conference. ... Doug is the dean of championships,” Jones said. “He has more championships than anyone as a head coach. He’s been consistent. That’s the tough part about this thing. You’re going to go up against a guy who knows how to win.”
It’s an odd thing, really.
Jones said he and Williams talk frequently — about old times and life, but mostly about football. If one coach is looking for advice on how to handle a certain issue, he might call the other.
But don’t be mistaken: This week, they’re not talking to each other a whole lot.
Which, come to think of it, is kind of like that night before the Super Bowl.