Harvey Williams – From Outcast with the Chiefs to Stardom with Raiders 

As it is Chiefs’ week I will talk about one of my favourite players of all time, who was first a Chief then a Raider. Harvey Williams.

I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was watching a Chiefs/Dolphins game in 1993 and Harvey Williams was knocked out and lost his second fumble of the game. He was unconscious. However, Marty Schottenheimer in his infinite wisdom decided that Harvey was now fumble prone and should be benched. He would play only 7 games in 1993, which would also kill any trade value he had. This almost ruined his career until he signed with the Raiders in 1994. 

Harvey was a highly recruited RB out of high school who went to LSU who ran for 1,000 yards his sophomore year and nearly 1,000 his senior year and was a first round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 1991. At the time the Chiefs had Barry Word and Christian Okoye but both were big backs nearing 30 years of age and the end of the line so Harvey was drafted to be the replacement. 

In his rookie year he ran for nearly 450 yards and a TD, averaging 4.6 a carry and caught 16 passes for another 147 yards and 2 TDs. Williams also averaged 21.8 yards per kick return on 24 kickoff returns.

His stats took a step back in 1992 but the Chiefs run game as a whole did. Okoye, Word and Williams all averaged under 4 yards a carry. 1992 would be Word and Okoye’s final year as Chiefs. In 1993 KC would start over at RB with Williams, Marcus Allen and Kimble Anders all of whom fit their new west coast offence much better. However, that fumble due to a concussion nearly ended Harvey’s career as he was benched after that and Marcus took over as the lead back. 

The Chiefs cut Williams in 1994. A few teams showed interest in signing him including the Rams and Raiders. However, after a meeting with Al Davis, Williams signed with the Raiders. The Raiders were also starting over at RB. Greg Robinson was hurt after leading the team in rushing in 1993, Napoleon McCallum (the team’s leading rusher in the playoffs in 1993) suffered a horrible knee injury in Week 1 in 1994 and Tyrone Montgomery was a small back who looked more suited to be a WR. 

During the first 4 games the Raiders started 1-3 after being a favourite for the AFC to make the Super Bowl. They had not decided on a lead back. However, that changed in the 5th game of the season when the Raiders upset the Patriots 21-17 with Williams scoring the winning TD on a 27 yard screen pass and running 17 times for 65 yards and catching another 3 passes for 41 yards in that game. 

The next game,  a loss to Miami, Williams ran 16 times for 72 yards and then in back to back wins over the Falcons and Oilers Williams had back to back 100 yard games of 107 and 128 yards rushing. In a loss to the Chiefs he exacted a bit of revenge running 24 times for 93 yards and catching 5 passes for another 38. 

After the 1-3 start the Raiders went 8-4 the rest of the season and Williams ran for 900 yards in those final 12 games finishing just shy of 1000 rushing on the season. He added 47 catches, gaining nearly 1,400 total yards and scoring 7 TDs. The Raiders finished 9-7 missing the playoffs by 1 game. I always felt if they had started Williams from Week 1 they would have made the playoffs. 

In 1995 the Raiders and Williams got off to a hot start, beginning the year 8-2. New coach Mike White instituted a more west coast style of offence which played to Williams strengths. Williams ran for over 930 yards in the first 12 games of the season which included 3 100 yard games. One of these 100 yard games included a career game in a blowout win over the Chargers when Willams ran for 160 yards on only 19 carries and a Rushing TD and threw a 13 yard TD pass. This TD pass put him in a select group of players which includes Marcus Allen, Darren McFadden and Jacobi Meyers as players who have thrown, ran and caught TD passes as Raiders. 

A few weeks later Williams ran for 134 yards in a win over the Bengals and added another 100 yard game in a Monday night loss to the Chargers. The Raiders had a huge rash of injuries on the Line that year and Williams only ran for 187 yards the final 4 games. However, he would finish the 1995 season with a career high 1114 yards averaging 4.4 a carry and 9 tds and adding 53 catches (he did not drop a ball all season) for 375 yards. Meaning in 1994 and 1995 he gained nearly 2,900 yards off total offence. 

The next season, Napoleon Kaufman took over as starter and his production fell to just over 400 yards as the Raiders backup. In 1997 like Marcus Allen before him, Williams showed he was a true team player, playing fullback which led to Williams carrying the ball only 18 times that season. During a Sunday game in 1997 he would explode against the Chargers for 4 TDs on only 7 touches (2 TDs Rushing and Receiving on 4 rushes and 3 catches).

In his final year in 1998 he finished with nearly 500 yards rushing and 26 catches. His final hooray as a player came in a Week 10 20-17 victory against the Seahawks. Kaufman was injured and Williams ran for 79 yards on only 12 carries including a 25 yard TD and caught 4 passes for 29 yards.

That season he gave Jon Gruden his famed Chucky name as after making a mistake practice Gruden pulled Williams from practice and snarled at him and Williams made the comment that he looked like that Chucky doll from the horror movies!! 

Williams finished his career with 3,952 yards rushing and 20 TDs and added another 193 catches for 1,442 yards and 7 receiving TDs. He still ranks 13th on the Raiders all time rushing list with just over 3,000 yards rushing and is one of only 12 Raiders in team history to run for more than 1,000 yards in a season. He also finished his career completing 3 for 5 passes for 58 yards 2 TDs and 0 Ints and a 140 QB rating! 

Below are the Raiders highlights of the 1995 season, his best year as a pro, along with highlights of the 1995 160 rushing game against the Seahawks and the 1997 4 TD game against the Chargers. I have also included an excellent interview with the POW Raiders Podcast in which Harvey talks about his career and the story about how he gave Chucky his nickname.