Silverback: The Trent Williams Story Image

Silverback: The Trent Williams Story

By Kyle Bain | January 12, 2022

Trent Williams is the highest-paid left tackle in the National Football League (NFL) history and a nine-time Pro Bowl selection. The athlete is also the owner of multiple low-income apartment complexes and a gym in Houston, Texas. Those who follow football, even casually, have heard of Williams. But what they may not have heard about the all-star athlete is that in 2019 he was told that he didn’t have much longer to live as a result of a cancerous brain tumor. Silverback: The Trent Williams Story tells the tale of the star athlete and the journey he embarked on, both the good and the bad.

I appreciate the entirety of Jared Zwerling’s film, but what stands the most about the documentary is Williams himself. It begins with the NFL star talking about his past and the struggles he faced growing up, but not in the fashion one has come to expect. Williams understands life is tough but makes it a point to mention that others faced the same challenges. As such, he never felt bad for himself or his family and feels he’s no different than those he grew up with. The fact that he is able to empathize with the others around him, rather than wallowing in self-pity (as others sometimes do), is a wonderful thing to learn about the all-star athlete.

What the major sports outlets often failed to convey to the public about Trent Williams was his cancer diagnosis. Naturally, this causes issues between him and the Washington Football Team (Redskins at the time). This fact has often remained somewhat hidden from the public eye, and fans of the athlete, the football team, or sports in general have sometimes struggled to understand the gravity of what was occurring in his life at the time. Silverback: The Trent Williams Story portrays the titular athlete as an everyman that has suffered the same things as everyone else. Zwerling aims to humanize this massive person in the world of football and finds immense success in doing so.

“…in 2019 [Williams] was told that he didn’t have much longer to live as a result of a cancerous brain tumor.”

As the film progresses, it dives deeper into Williams’s role off of the gridiron as an ambassador for the Sarcoma Foundation of America. It’s not enough for him to have beaten cancer and play a role in the public eye; he, and his supporters, express that while he was fortunate to have the tools that he did, not everyone does. That is where the SFA comes in, as they’re a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding better therapies for those with cancer.

One of the reasons Silverback: The Trent Williams Story is so successful in relaying its message is that it’s able to surround its subject with other, larger-than-life individuals from his world. Adrian Peterson, Vernon Davis, and Adam Schefter all play a role in telling the tale of Willams. Anyone who follows football knows how important these players are to the sport. Having these goliaths of football express their understanding for Willams is a veritable touchdown, as it allows fans of the sports to appreciate, even more, what is being said.

Silverback: The Trent Williams Story is one of a kind, as it paints Trent Williams in a way that allows him to appeal to the public at large, even those who aren’t sports fans. But, even more importantly, the documentary enables viewers to feel as if Williams is just like them. The connection viewers make with Williams, and his journey is terrific, and the film does an impeccable job of bringing his story to life for the whole world to see. By allowing viewers to see who and what Williams is behind the scenes, Zwerling is able to tell a riveting story.

Silverback: The Trent Williams Story (2021)

Directed: Jared Zwerling


Starring: Trent Williams, Adrian Peterson, Vernon Davis, Adam Schefter, Lil Wayne, Freddie Williams, Veronica Williams, Miranda Williams, Diana Russini, Kyle Shanahan, Vince Taylor, etc.

Movie score: 8.5/10

Silverback: The Trent Williams Story Image

"…enables viewers to feel as if Williams is just like them."

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