Following some special arrangements at what wound up being Lorenzo Alexander's final home game with the Bills in Week 17, there was speculation that the linebacker's 15th NFL season could prove to be his last. At the close of a difficult overtime playoff defeat on Saturday, Alexander confirmed that his professional playing career is over.
"I'm done," he said. "I made the decision a while ago. It's more about choosing my family than not choosing football. I'm a man that holds my family in high regard and they've been with me for the last 11 years of my career, so, this is about being with them, being with my wife who's played such a vital role in my success. It's time for me to allow her to do some of the things she wants to do and just be a supportive husband and stay-at-home dad.
"I played 15 years. No regrets at all, met a lot of great teammates, people that I'll call family for the rest of my life. It's been a great ride. I've loved every minute of it."
Alexander cherished every minute of it because even he didn't think he'd be around this long. An undrafted free agent out of Cal, Alexander cut his teeth in the league as a special teams coverage player. To stay in the league he bulked up to play both defensive and offensive line, before transitioning back to a more natural position of linebacker for most of his career.
A two-time Pro Bowl selection, once as a special teamer (2012) and once as a linebacker in the 2016 season with the Bills when he led the team with 12.5 sacks, Alexander truly defied the odds.
"I've accomplished everything for the most part that I wanted to outside of winning the Super Bowl with being an All-Pro, being a Pro Bowler. I played this league 15 years, we've set ourselves financially where I can do whatever I really want to do. So I'd rather choose my family and be with my sons be with my daughters and my wife and pour into them, because I'm at a point physically, emotionally and spiritually in my life where I really want to focus my attention [on them]."
Alexander said he came to his decision around midseason.
"You're kind of going back and forth, but at the end of the day it was about making a decision for my family and because it was about my family and not about walking away from something that I love, I think that made it more at peace for me."
In his four seasons with the Bills, Alexander produced three of the most productive seasons of his career, which included 24 of his 33 career sacks and all three of his career interceptions. As he always stated, he just needed a full-time opportunity, something that eluded him for much of his career. He became an unquestioned leader in Buffalo's locker room, who was instrumental in helping head coach Sean McDermott establish his culture change within the organization.
"It's been great to be a part of something special," he said. "I think we have started to set this organization on a track to where it can be a perennial playoff team and a contender every single year. So a lot of great young men and women in that building and hopefully I've impacted their lives in a positive way through the leadership and the way I show up every day. That's been a real special part of my time here in Buffalo."
Extremely active in the Buffalo community, Alexander in his final season is once again the Bills candidate for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
And though Alexander's playing career is over, he intends to keep up his appearances in Western New York.
"I'll still be around," he said. "I'm a part of this community in Buffalo. So hopefully I can do some things like Kyle Williams and Eric Wood is doing you know staying engaged and coming around and still being a Buffalo Bill. I'm a Bill for life."
Scroll through to view photos of Lorenzo Alexander's 15-season career. Alexander played 15 seasons in the NFL for Oakland, Arizona, Washington, and the Buffalo Bills. He ends his career having played in 191 games with 467 total tackles, 46 tackles for loss, 33 sacks, 12 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries and 3 interceptions. Alexander played tight end, defensive line and linebacker in addition to his valuable special teams play. He was a two-time Pro Bowler and was a captain in Washington, Arizona and Buffalo.