As I sat down to work Friday morning, I received word that the Bills suffered their biggest loss in 13 years when Kyle Williams decided that Sunday would be his last game in the NFL — as a Bill — and as the embodiment of the woeful, wonderful franchise and city.
Williams killed himself for 13 unlucky years on a series of bad, mediocre and occasionally decent teams. He was often the best player on the field for either side.
And Williams was the Bills. Not big enough, too bloated, but scrappy and ferocious, and no one — no one — circled the wagons like Kyle Williams.
And he looked like no one circled the chuck wagon like Kyle Williams.
The overstuffed, outstretched No. 95 jersey played for seven head coaches, seven defensive coordinators, five general managers, nine defensive line coaches and excelled in everyone of their disparate, often ill-designed systems.
I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love Williams as a player and a guy. How many people anywhere can you say that about? Even his opponents loved him. Hell, the Patriots’ players loved him.
That’s not right.
The list of accolades is impressive if not impossible for a fat, slow, nobody drafted in the fifth round. Two All-Pro seasons, Five Pro Bowls, one carry for one yard and one touchdown, one playoff game, and one career-ending tackle of Johnny Football.
And the one word he chose to describe his career as a Bill is “grateful.”
Nobody should be that nice and that cool.
But Williams is — and to prove it he added, about Buffalo, “I don’t know that a place has ever meant as much to anybody.” He has often said Buffalo has the toughest people anywhere.
No tougher than you, KW. We were much luckier to have you than you were to have us.
General manager Marv Levy and coach Dick Jauron drafted him in 2006, and he started 11 games as an unheralded rookie, with 53 tackles, which is a ton for a first-year DT.
Partly because, remarkably, Williams is an incredible athlete. Former Bills TE, Scott Chandler recalled seeing Kyle hit eight batting practice home runs in the Toronto Blue Jays’ stadium shortly after he shot even par at Wanakah Country Club in Buffalo. Yep, Williams is a scratch golfer, too.
And the hits just keep on coming. Williams has been the best ambassador for the Bills and the city for more than a decade. The epitome of the blue-collar player in a blue jersey, drinking Labatt Blues but never crying them. He was somehow, miraculously, simultaneously, both the soothing voice of reason and fiery rah-rah pregame pep talker.
He was the epitome of what you want in an NFL player — a violent, ruthless, competitive warrior on every play until the whistle, as well as studying film and practicing/preparing for it, and then a thoughtful, wise, gentle, giant dad, husband, teammate and pillar of the community off of the field.
Oh, and a rock along the defensive line with almost 50 sacks and over 600 tackles. Kyle earned $57.2 million dollars as a Bill, and we got off cheap.
So this Sunday, against the stinking Dolphins, is Kyle Williams’ last game as a consummate professional and as a Buffalo Bill.
It is your duty to come down to New Era Field or plop yourself down in front of a TV to watch Kyle Williams play and represent the franchise, the city, the game and all that is good in the world.
Pete Rosen is a screenwriter in Los Angeles, lifetime Buffalo fan, and may be found blathering daily at twobillsdrive.com.