Before he was an action superstar in the 1970s in films like Black Caesar and Hammer, Fred Williamson was a terrific defensive back in the 1960s for three different franchises. While he spent his rookie season in the AFL playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, it would be with the Raiders that Williamson would have the most gridiron success.
The former Northwestern standout would be a three-time AFL All-Star with the Silver and Black from 1961 to 1963. Williamson would be All-League in both 1962 and 1963. Known for his punishing forearm hits, he would be nicknamed “The Hammer” for his karate-influenced tackling techniques.
Williamson would play with the Raiders through the 1964 AFL season. He would spend his final three professional football seasons with the arch-rival Kansas City Chiefs from 1965 to 1967 before retiring and beginning his illustrious film career. Though he might be better known by some as crime-fighter Tommy Gibbs, Williamson was certainly a promising ball hawk before that.
In eight professional football seasons, Williamson would have 36 interceptions in 104 career games for 479 yards and two touchdowns. Though he left the Raiders before they won their first championship in 1967, Williamson set the tone for the aggressive nature of Oakland defenses that would follow in years to come. He was “The Hammer”.