Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Clarence Williams and Alden Roche—Bookends for the Pack in the 70s

 By John Turney
Clarence Williams (L) and Alden Roache (R)
Roche's stats
Year         Team      Sacks
1970 DEN 0.5
1971 GB 5.0
1972 GB 4.0
1973        GB 4.5
1974 GB 7.0
1975 GB 3.0
1976 GB 8.5
1977 SEA 3.5
1978 SEA 0.0

Williams' stats
Year      Team      Sacks 
1970      GB             3.5  
1971      GB             6.0 
1972      GB            10.5  
1973      GB             3.0  
1974      GB             7.0  
1975      GB            10.0  
1976      GB             8.0  
1977      GB             3.0

Both Williams and Roche first played in the NFL in 1970, Williams via Dallas and Roache through Denver. Williams was drafted by the Cowboys in the 11th round (283rd overall) of the 1969 NFL Draft. Roache was a higher pick, a  Broncos draftee in the 2nd round (37th overall) of the 1970 NFL Draft. Both were standouts at HBCUs, Williams at Prarie View A&M and Roche at Southern.

Williams was traded will a backup center to Green Bay for Herb Adderley. Roche was acquired by the Packers in a trade that dent Don Horn to Denver and had Denver and Green Bay swap positions in the first round. 

Today these are unknown players to the younger croud, in our view. They were not stars, in was an era where great defensive ends roamed the NFL, especially in the NFC—Hall of Famers like Carl Eller, Claude Humphrey, and Jack Youngblood hogged up most of the Pro Bowl spots leaving few for other players, even someone like "Sweeney Williams" who had double-digit sacks in 1972 and 1975. 

In 1972 Williams even got a nod on Vinny DiTrani's (of The Bergan Record) "Allmost All-Pro" team—a team dedicated to picking under-the-radar players who had great seasons but who may have been overshadowed for one reason or another. 

In 1976 the Packers bookends each had 8 or more sacks on a team that tallied 43—the most since the heydays of Vince Lombardi and his linemen like Willie Davis, Henry Jordan, and Lionel Aldridge. 

However, both players faded after that season and were both out of football by 1979.

The Packers drafted Mike Butler and Ezra Johnson in the first round in 1977 making Williams expendable (he spent that season as a defensive tackle) and Roche expendable. And they were expended for sure. 

But it is good to remember such players once in a while and so we do that today.

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