Williams says, "and he's teaching the same techniques that we used when I was playing. That's helped. The tackles have been receptive to me. I've been making suggestions, and they've been coming to me asking for advice. I pull them aside on the field or in the meetings and we talk about different things. It's been good."
Apparently it's been good for the pupils, too, and none more so than veteran right tackle Marc Colombo.
"He's a great instructor," Colombo enthuses. "I've asked him a couple of questions and he's helped me out immensely, and we haven't even been here a week. He's tall like me, and he really knows how to play right tackle. He did it right for a long time. He played against some really great players and had success with them, so it's really advantageous for me to pick his brain. I've always liked watching him play. He was really aggressive, probably one of the nastiest players of all time. It's really good for me to get this type of one-on-one teaching."
That nastiness is what made Williams feared. It's a trait that makes offensive line coaches drool. If a player has skills, a work ethic and a mean streak, he can be all-time great. Houck, who says he's having fun with Williams as an assistant, wishes he knew how to teach it.
"That is a million-dollar question," Houck smiles. "If you ever find out, let me know, will ya? Because I could use it. You just have to show them an example like Erik Williams and say, 'Look, it works. Finish your block. It's successful.' Players are going to look at success. For those who saw Big E play, you know that if you could block Reggie White year in, year out, what he's doing is successful. He does it through toughness, perseverance, being physical."
Temperament is something Williams believes can be taught. "It's something that I was taught," he says, "even from watching NFL Films when I was a young kid. You would always hear, "If you can't hit, you can't play. If you can't run, you can't play. You have to be hostile, agile, mobile.' Those type of things. When I went to Central State, the guys were mean there, so I didn't really have a choice." Was he a mean player?
"They say I was a mean player. Most of the things I did I don't even remember. But I would have to say, yeah, I played the game physical. That's the way I love to play the game."
If Erik Williams was a mean player, he is certainly not a mean person. He has devoted recent years in retirement to raising his daughter and living right. What about the Hall of Fame?
"I'm just trying to make God's Hall of Fame," he says, but adds, "Put it this way: There are other guys who deserve to be in the Hall of Fame not in there who deserve it more than me."
Wherever he's directed on his future path, Erik Williams isn't worried about a big paying job.
"If He means me to coach, I will," he says, and offers a bible verse, Matthew 6:33: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you."
But he is delighted to be wearing silver and blue and a star again. A Philadelphia native, Williams says about being back with his old team, "I love it. I love the Cowboys. I grew up a Philadelphia Eagles fan, but I love the Cowboys. I have history with the Cowboys. The Cowboys never left me; I just left the Cowboys." And now Big E is back.