NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As new position coaches have worked to learn their players and figure out how to get the most out of them, defensive line coach Terrell Williams has been vulnerable with his charges.

He’s shared the story of the 2012 death of his 4-year old son, Tyson.

“That was a tough time, but what it’s taught me is to be thankful and grateful for what you have," he said. "We had our son for four years, my wife and I, a short time. But you know what? Those were the best four years of our life.TerrellWilliams

“It makes me appreciate my players, appreciate the people that I work with, appreciate relationships and life is short. In my mind I give everything I’ve got. The guys that I coach are important to me, they are like family to me. Heck, Tommy Kelly, Richard Seymour, Andre Carter and Dave Tollefson, those were the pallbearers at my son’s funeral.

Tyson Williams got sick unexpectedly on Nov. 2, his birthday, and he was gone on Nov. 9. Stories at the time said the illness was undisclosed and Williams didn’t offer that detail as he remembered his son and spoke of how the loss has shaped his approach to his life and work.

“The thing I’ve learned is: don’t question it,” he said. “You accept it and every day you’ve got to make a choice to kind of move forward. The thing that I’ve learned losing my child is there were people in this league, more people than you realize, that have lost children.”

One of them, Don Johnson, the D-line coach in Arizona, was among the first to reach out and help. He lost a son in a car accident in 2002.

A large network of colleagues extended sympathies. Former Titans line coach Jim Washburn was with the Eagles at the time and reached out and began a friendship that extended to them working together in Miami.

Williams and his wife have another son. Tyson Williams taught his little brother, Tahj, how to clap. The younger brother was eight months old when his brother died and is now 6 and is the family’s new Tennessee home.

“People care,” Williams said. “It’s more than just football. It’s something that I feel comfortable sharing with people now. Early on it wasn’t that easy. Not that I’ve kind of processed everything, and what I and my wife need to do going forward, I share that story.

“I share that story with my defensive line anywhere I go, any coach when I am doing clinics. I think everyone needs to know that life is precious.”

apple icon 144x144 precomposedWilliams’ best player on the Titans, Jurrell Casey, said his coach shares stories about his life and wants to get to know them on a personal level.

The only way you can do that is come and share the deepest things that are inside you and one day we were in a meeting and he just started to share it with us,” Casey said. “…He definitely could have gone into a slump and pulled away from being with other people and their families.

“It shows his dedication to football. When I talked to him personally and just see him around, he’s always talking about the love that he has for each player. He tries to give you pointers on life outside of football and you can tell his world isn’t just football, he’s going to try to know you personally.

“That’s what I love in a coach, someone who I can come in and sit down and talk with. And it’s been easy so far.”

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