The year was 2010 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were on the rise. Second-year quarterback Josh Freeman, the first round pick in 2009, was in the process of winning the Buccaneers back into playoff contention and getting their first 10-win season since 2005.
Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, a former top five pick himself, had suffered not one, but two knee injuries, yet had rebounded. And, he was part of a backfield that was helping Freeman and the offense succeed.
But, just a couple of short seasons later Freeman’s NFL career went down the tubes faster than you could spell “Greg Schiano.” And the injuries and father time caused Cadillac Williams to have happen to him what happens to many others: his legs and game hit the “age wall.” His career was over after 2011.
So where are the two of them now?
Coincidentally on Sunday, Tampa Bay Times Buccaneers beat writer Rick Stroud caught up with Freeman, who’s trying another career come back, after not having been in the NFL since 2015. This time with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL.
Whoa, Canada? Josh Freeman tries to resurrect once-promising career with the CFL’s Alouettes. Good time spent with Josh at a passing camp in Vero Beach last month. https://t.co/RsjpFJv2Oc
— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) May 5, 2018
As we wrote earlier this off season, it went bad in Tampa Bay quickly, and as Stroud found out being with him in Vero Beach, Freeman is likely on his last hope to play his way back into the NFL.
Meanwhile, Cadillac Williams is also still attached to the game as a football coach at the IMG Academy in Bradenton working High School Stars chasing their college and eventually, NFL dreams.
I caught up with former Auburn star Cadillac Williams, who is now getting new perspective as the IMG running backs coach.
— Connor O'Gara (@cjogara) May 6, 2018
Both players know the feeling of having been taken in the first round of the NFL draft, just as 32 guys were taken a week and a half ago. Both players also know the taste of success in the NFL, including making huge money.
And, both also now know that it all eventually it comes to an end, and you have to decide what to do with the rest of your life.
In Freeman’s case, he’s younger (30) and clinging to hope of the last chance “North of the border.” Maybe it will work for him this summer in the CFL. Or maybe, the same seeming lack of fire, etc. that caused his NFL career to peter out, rears up, again. After all, Freeman bounced around in Dolphins camp (photo above) and was briefly signed for one game by the Colts in 2015.
And for Williams (36, now), who also went back to Auburn recently and got his degree, he’s setting the right example for up and coming players. And, he seems genuinely content to stay on the sidelines with a headset on Friday nights in the fall.
It’s not the roaring crowd at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, but it’s still football for both.
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