TAMPA - It has been more than 25 years, but former Bucs linebacker Richard "Batman" Wood still remembers the feeling that came over him the first time he saw a rookie quarterback named Doug Williams.
It was confidence.
"I knew we were going to win," Wood said.
On Thursday, Wood got the same impression all over again, watching his old pal Williams, the beloved Bucs quarterback from 1978-82 and a winner in every phase of his multifaceted career, return to the franchise as a player personnel executive.
"This is fantastic, a fantastic hire," said Wood, a Bucs linebacker for nine seasons. "He's a winner. He's won at every level and he's got the experience. He knows what to look for, and I think it's going to be beneficial to the team."
As a member of general manager Bruce Allen's front-office staff, Williams will assist coach Jon Gruden by evaluating players. He will draw on his experience as a player, coach and scout at the high school, college and professional levels.
"We will certainly benefit by having Doug Williams join our organization," cornerback Ronde Barber said. "Doug has a tremendous amount of experience in this business as a player, coach and scout. He has been successful at every stop and knows what it takes to be a champion."
According to Jimmie Giles, a Bucs tight end from 1978-86, Williams' winning pedigree is just what the Bucs need after a disappointing season in which they failed to make the playoffs in defense of their Super Bowl XXXVII victory a year ago.
The past season was a tumultuous one for the Bucs, including the deactivation of receiver Keyshawn Johnson and the departure of long-time general manager Rich McKay to take the same position with the Falcons.
"The timing is tremendous," said Giles, 49, a Tampa resident who joined Wood and Parnell Dickinson, a Bucs quarterback in 1976, in the front row for Thursday's news conference at One Buc Place.
"It's like Coach Gruden has his team together now and Doug Williams obviously is a part of his team. I think Coach Gruden is going to be a lot more comfortable with the decisions that his player personnel people make. ... I don't really sense that's what was happening when McKay was here."
Williams was estranged from the franchise for several years after a contract dispute with then-owner Hugh Culverhouse ended his playing career in Tampa Bay. But Gruden reached out to all former Bucs when he arrived in 2001 and Williams addressed the team during its 2002 championship season. Veteran linebacker Derrick Brooks was impressed with Williams' message.
"I think this is a major move in terms of getting our organization on the same page," Brooks said. "The last time he was invited to speak to our team we won a Super Bowl. I think this is good for the young players to see some history with the Bucs by having Doug Williams around."
But as much as Williams' former teammates like to reminisce about the past, they agree the addition of Williams to the front office is a bold move for the future.
"You're talking about a guy who has won at every level as a player and a coach," said Wood, 50, who coached Wharton High to the 2002 Class 5A state title game. "You're just looking at something positive, very positive for this organization."
Giles' phone started ringing early Thursday morning.
"This move has excited the whole city," Giles said. "I've got guys calling me from all over the country, "What is this about Doug coming back?' It's exciting."