Vicksburg cousins face off on Monday Night Football

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 2, 2000

Two years ago at a family reunion, James Williams told his cousin, Eric Warfield, that he wanted to match up with him on the field.

Tonight, the Vicksburg natives may finally get that chance on the biggest stage of all ABC’s Monday Night Football.

Williams, a second-string rookie receiver for Seattle, and Warfield, a second-string cornerback for Kansas City, hope they can face each other at least on a few plays to establish bragging rights at the next family reunion.

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“I told him he better be ready for me,” Williams recalled by telephone Sunday night.

Warfield had just finished his rookie season with the Chiefs and Williams was on his way to Marshall University during the friendly exchange, when the family gathered at Clear Creek in Bovina.

Warfield is the son of Williams’ mother’s niece, Rosie Marie Warfield. Corniell Warfield of Vicksburg is both players’ grandmother.

“I guess I’ll be pulling for both of them,” she said this morning.

Williams has caught just two passes for 17 yards in four games, so he’s looking for a breakout game. And there’s no one he’d rather do it against than his first cousin on prime-time television.

“I’m going to be real fired up,” Williams said.

Williams, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound speedster from Warren Central and Hinds Community College, was Seattle’s sixth-round draft choice this year.

Warfield, who moved from Vicksburg to Arkansas as a teen-ager, is in his third season with the Chiefs, who drafted him out of Nebraska. The 6-foot, 195-pounder played on the Cornhuskers’ 1996 national championship team. He intercepted Seattle quarterback John Kitna when they met on Nov. 11.

Williams said he will be in the game for the Seahawks’ third series and whenever they have a four-wideout set. He hopes that Warfield will be in when he is.

“I’ve always wanted to go against him,” he said, laughing while getting treatment in a whirlpool.

Williams said his numbers are low because of the Seahawks’ West Coast offense.

“We don’t go deep at all,” he said.

That was his strength at Marshall, where he averaged more than 20 yards per catch.

Both players have plenty of family in Vicksburg. Williams’ sister, Roxanne Johnson, and grandmothers Coniell Warfield and Flonia Williams, live here. They may all get together at the home of his parents, Houston and Flora Williams, and watch on their big-screen TV.

“If they’re not here, then the phone will be ringing like I don’t know what,” Flora Williams said with a laugh.