Posted 05/26/2010 at 10:26 PM
Jarvis Williams died late Tuesday night of an acute asthma attack in North Florida. He was 45.
Williams is the greatest cornerback in the storied history of Florida Gator football. Better than Joe Haden, better than Lito Sheppard, better than Fred Weary and better than Janoris Jenkins ever will be.
He was also a helluva player for the Miami Dolphins from 1988-1993 and then spent one season with the New York Giants before retiring due to injuries in 1994.
When I heard the news earlier today, only one name came to mind: Melvin Bratton.
If you were any sort of college football fan in the 1980s, you are plenty familiar with Williams and Bratton. The former teamed with Louis Oliver to give the Gators one of the most feared secondaries in America in the mid-80s. The latter played in the backfield with -- among others -- Alonzo Highsmith on some of the best squads in UM history.
I was fortunate enough to be in the stands (Thanks, Dad!) when Williams and Bratton collided at Florida Field one Saturday afternoon. Williams got the better of the exchange -- by far!
Through the greatness of YouTube, you can watch for yourself by clicking here.
To this day, it remains the nastiest hit I've ever seen live. And yes, young Gators, I was also at The Swamp when Lawrence Wright nearly decapitated Tennessee WR Joey Kent (wait for the 0:35 mark to cut that clip off).
At the celebration for the 1996 UF national championship team, Steve Spurrier referenced "all those Gators up in heaven." Way too soon, that group now includes the best cover corner to ever wear the orange and blue.
RIP, Jarvis Williams (#26).