Talking to a group of men at a Palm Beach event, the current ESPN analyst was asked if he'd make the same move again.
"Absolutely," Ditka said. "Of course, that's why I'm sitting here, talking to you."
In 1999, Ditka was the coach of the New Orleans Saints, an organization that made a much maligned trade with the Washington Redskins. It allowed the Saints to snatch up Williams with the fifth overall selection in exchange for eight draft picks. Williams rushed for 3,129 yards in three seasons with New Orleans, but was traded to the Dolphins -- perhaps large in part to off-the-field problems.
Ditka, however, defended the back.
"You'll never find a better guy, a sweetheart of a guy, a personable guy, a guy who tries to do the right things, and I think his teammates see that," he said.
"Now you could argue, if you want to: Did we give up too much to get him? Maybe," Ditka said. "But if you want somebody, why not give it up? And the other reason we wanted him -- I wanted him -- was that they needed somebody to market in New Orleans and I thought he would be great."
In recent years, Williams has been extremely productive while managing to stay out of the headlines for the wrong reasons.
While the trade didn't translate to immediate success for Ditka's Saints, I'd bet there are very few people down there worrying too much about it anymore.