Upstairs, the grandson busied himself sending text messages as he sat with his grandmother, and then looked at her.
“Grandma, I just missed a phone call.”
Before Williams could finish reminding him that he’d be able to answer the phone if he stopped sending so many texts, her phone began to ring. It was the Patriots.
His grandfather was right.
The family hollered to Simmons, and as he trudged up the stairs, all of the friends that he had called started showing up at the door, along with Wilson’s former coaches and other friends and family members.
“He was happy,” Williams said of her husband. “He was so, so happy.”
Staying in school
When Wilson returned from his initial trip to New England in the days right after the draft, he had a Patriots hat and T-shirt for Simmons.
On May 14, a little more than two weeks after his grandson became an NFL player, Simmons died. There was no football game that weekend for Wilson to find solace in.
Wilson is soft-spoken, the dreadlocks he wore in college gone in favor of a close-cut taper, a thin mustache and goatee neatly trimmed. Proving that on-field lessons aren’t the only thing he has picked up quickly, he says he’s taking things week-by-week, enjoying the challenges, and is excited for the rest of the season.
Williams reveals that her grandson considered leaving Illinois a year early for the draft, but she has insisted on two things for her children and grandchildren: that they put God first in their life and education second.
She wanted to try to persuade him to stay, but instead decided to take a harder stance after talking with her own grandmother, Eddye, Wilson’s great-great-grandmother.
“She loved her ‘Tay-Tay,’ ” Williams said. “She told me, ‘There ain’t no trying [to get Wilson to stay in school] — you’re going to tell him. Because if it’s for him, he’ll get there.’ ”
Wilson stayed and was drafted, and Williams got the diploma she so desired for her first grandchild to earn.
Eddye Williams didn’t hold her tongue for anyone, even her beloved Tay-Tay. Wilson said that helped him in recent years, as he went through high school and college.
When you live for as long as she did, there’s a lot of wisdom to pass on. Eddye died less than a month ago, well past her 112th birthday. For some time, she was believed to be the oldest resident of Washington D.C.
She lived a good long life, Wilson said, so he tries not to be too upset.
He was going to the field for practice not long after the interview with a reporter, another day of football to soothe anything that troubles him.