He admitted he was torn. Kyle Williams retirement announcement wasn’t an easy decision for him. He can still play NFL football at a high level. He loves the only other city he’s ever lived in besides where he grew up in Louisiana. But the tug on his heart for his family was something he could no longer put to the side.
The father of five came to a realization this past spring that he’s simply missing too many of his kids’ milestones, and his professional career was the main culprit.
“I’ve watched way too many T-ball and soccer games over FaceTime,” he said. “This past spring more than ever. I think at the end of the day, it came down to the things that I say are most important to me, are they really the most important things, or do I just say that because that’s what everybody else says?
“I don’t know if there’s ever a good time, whether it’s now or whether it’s two years from now, it’s going to hurt walking away. There’s going to be a void in my life because of how much this game, obviously this organization, and this team has meant to me in general. Those were all things that I’m going to have to work through and process. It’s never easy.”
Williams has not only been committed to pro football the past 13 years, he genuinely loves it. He loves the preparation, the competition and the grind.
What made his decision all the more difficult is a relationship he’s built in the only NFL city he’s known. Buffalo took Kyle Williams in as their adopted son. They loved him, because they saw a lot of themselves in him. A prideful person, who puts in an honest day’s work every day, even when things don’t always go the way you want them to.
“The city here, if you commit yourself to it, you commit yourself to the community, there’s such a different vibe,” he said. “There’s such a different feeling. We’ve had guys come in and out of this organization, obviously, tons for my years here. These guys either didn’t want to come here because of what they had heard or maybe people make a funny face when you say ‘Buffalo.’
“They didn’t want to be drafted here, they didn’t want to come here in free agency, they had no other choice, whatever the things may be. When it was time for leaving, nobody wanted to leave. There’s something about (Buffalo) that gets inside of you and takes hold if you commit yourself to it and you let it in.”
Despite all the seasons where the playoffs weren’t part of the equation, and the better part of two seasons were lost to injury, Williams said he wished he was 22 again so he could do it all over.
That’s the level of competitor Williams was for the Bills, and it was why he remains so revered in Buffalo’s locker room. He was the ultimate competitor.
Williams hinted at being involved in helping to push coach McDermott’s process along. Whether that’s from afar or making his way back to Buffalo now and again, the details will likely be ironed out in the offseason.
For now, Williams is looking forward to Sunday’s season finale when he buckles his chin strap at New Era Field, one last time. It’ll be his last taste of the competition that drove him to be one of the most successful defensive lineman in team history.
“It’ll be a fun experience,” said Williams. “I’m excited about it, obviously. I don’t know that a place has ever meant more to anybody. I’m excited for the weekend.”
Longtime Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams will call it a career after 13 years, following the team's 2018 season finale against the Dolphins. Click through to see highlights from his remarkable tenure with the Bills.