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SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 06: Jamal Williams #76 and Luis Castillo #93 of the San Diego Chargers prepare to enter the game against the Tennessee Titans during their AFC Wild Card Game on January 6, 2008 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jamal Williams;Luis Castillo
He tackled Terrell Davis. He sacked John Elway's incumbent. He opened lanes for Junior Seau. He single-handedly changed games of an intense rivalry that, in 2002, saw his season cut short because of a cheap late hit.
On Monday night, Williams will face the Chargers in San Diego as the Broncos' starting nose tackle. The scenario seems too strange for Bizarro World, and yet the three-time Pro Bowler's indifference to the oddity is as matter-of-fact and immovable as the time-proven nature with which he plays.
“You put on the shoulder pads and your helmet and you play football,” Williams said. “Now it’s just a different color and a different emblem, so it’s no big deal.”
None at all.
Williams says he hasn't watched a Chargers game all season — hasn't paid attention to them. He doesn't think about that cheap hit that derailed a promising season because it is in the past. Battling center Nick Hardwick in a game like he's done for years in practice means nothing because he doesn't look at individuals.
And as for the front office that cut the veteran last March when he was coming off triceps surgery? No hard feelings.
“Business is business,” Williams, 34, said. “It’s the NFL, you know. Sometimes teams go through changes and stuff like that. I was fortunate enough to get picked up by another team, which is the Denver Broncos.”
Hardwick must be saving his emotion for game day, too.
Asked about Williams' return, he gave a smirk while intentionally pulling out his sports cliché book that he keeps handy for such moments.
“It's just a good challenge that we're looking forward to,” Hardwick said. “It's a good team that presents a lot of unique challenges just as every other week. We better bring our best.”
Chargers coach Norv Turner, apparently the only human in Bizarro World capable of sentimentality, did reflect on Williams' homecoming.
“Jamal is a great football player,” Turner said. “Obviously, (he) was a very, very, very productive football player here -- a big part of what this team accomplished through those years. It'll be different to have him on the other side of the field.”