Brawl was personal for safety Williams
January 06, 2003
Nancy Gay, Brian Murphy
The sideline brawl that erupted when Giants cornerback Will Allen intercepted Jeff Garcia's fourth-quarter conversion throw to Terrell Owens already was simmering before that snap.
While the 49ers were reveling in Garcia's go-ahead touchdown pass to Tai Streets, a very animated Owens gestured to the Giants' defense. Safety Shaun Williams was convinced Owens was taunting him.
He stormed the 49ers' gathering and confronted Owens, and the two exchanged shoves, an act that drew offsetting personal fouls.
"I kept my composure," Owens said. "He was a hothead."
When Allen ran back his intercepted conversion pass, he was pushed hard out of bounds by Owens and received a smack on the head from the 49ers' volatile receiver. With that, Williams jumped into the pile, landing on Owens. Teammate Omar Stoutmire joined Williams, shouting an obscenity at a furious Owens.
"The first time, Terrell was yapping and cursing and gesturing at me," Williams complained afterward. "And I looked at him and said, 'All right.' Then he kept getting closer, and I was threatened myself and I reacted."
Williams then went off again, tussling with center Jeremy Newberry, drawing a second flag and an ejection.
"The second time, I saw a lineman (Newberry) take our defensive back to the ground, and I was trying to protect my guy, you know?"
Later, Williams was diplomatic.
"We had our battles out there, but I have nothing but respect for him (Owens) as a player," Williams said. "There was a lot going on in the heat of battle."
WHO WAS ELIGIBLE?: The last play of the game featured a string of Giants players heading toward the end zone trying to catch a desperation pass from holder Matt Allen.
The game ended on a penalty, as the Giants were flagged for an illegal man downfield. In truth, said NFL director of officiating Mike Pereira, there were any number of Giants' players ineligible downfield.
"We called it on 65 (guard Tam Hopkins)," Pereira said. "He originally lined up as the left guard, on the line of scrimmage. I think he was one of three (players) that could have been called."
SHOCKEY INCIDENT: Giants rookie tight end Jeremy Shockey apologized for throwing ice into the stands by signing a football for two young 49ers fans.
"Sorry about that, I didn't mean to hit you," Shockey said, as he signed the ball. "Did you guys enjoy the game?"
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