Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams took a few months last offseason before deciding to return to play in 2018. Making a similar decision about his playing future this time around took considerably less time.
The five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle has decided that his 13th NFL season will be his last.
In an open letter to Bills fans, Williams explained why now is the time for him to call it a career.
There’s no perfect time to retire from a game, a franchise, and a city that mean so much to me and my family. But it’s time to hang up my cleats.
A singular word sticks out when I look back on my NFL career. Grateful. To have spent this much time with one team. To have had the opportunity to get to know this organization, this community, and more importantly, the people. To have raised my family here. To have made countless memories and friendships, on and off the field.
Thank you to the Pegulas, to the Wilson family, to my teammates, to Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane, to my family, and to the fans. I’ve been at this a really long time but it doesn’t feel like it, and that’s a testament to your unwavering support. I could not be more grateful to retire as a lifelong Buffalo Bill.
The 13-year veteran put together yet another solid campaign at defensive tackle for the number two ranked defense in NFL this season. Second on the team in quarterback hits, third in sacks and fifth in tackles for loss, Williams was still a very productive part of Buffalo’s defensive front.
Williams was named a first alternate for the Pro Bowl by coaches and players around the league for his play.
Williams leadership role on the club has been immeasurable. As head coach Sean McDermott has tried to cultivate a work ethic and commitment to playoff caliber football, Williams has been one of his staunchest advocates and examples.
“(He’s) done a real good job,” said McDermott. “[He’s] one of my biggest leaders at the player level that really connects my message to the locker room. Kyle has been here for a number of years and I think he feels some of what was just asked about. He feels the direction of this organization, he feels the direction of this team and he’s been a big part of it this last year and a half.”
As respected as Williams has been in Buffalo’s locker room by teammates for his unrelenting work ethic and no-nonsense approach to the game, there is genuine reverence from Bills fans for Williams’ blue-collar style.
Never was that affinity for Williams more evident than when his one-yard touchdown run in the team’s Week 17 win over Miami in 2017 provided the winning points in a 22-16 final, that kept the Bills alive for the postseason.
Then came the viral video of an emotional Williams in Buffalo’s locker room with two of his sons celebrating as Cincinnati’s comeback win over Baltimore helped push the Bills into the postseason for the first time in the defensive tackle’s long career and ended Buffalo’s 17-year playoff drought.
It prompted hundreds of fans to flock to the Buffalo airport that night to welcome the team back from Miami. Chants of, ‘We want Kyle!’ dominated the cacophony coming from the fans as they watched the players de-plane in a spontaneous January sub-zero temperature celebration.
A fifth-round pick in 2006, Williams quickly established himself as a starter in his rookie season and was named to five Pro Bowls in his career, including three consecutive season from 2012-2014. He was named Second-Team All-Pro in 2010 by the Associated Press and First-Team by Pro Football Focus. The Sporting News awarded him First-team All-Pro honors in 2013, a season in which he posted a career-high 10.5 sacks.
Williams, who played his entire career with the Bills, will rank seventh in team history in games played for Buffalo with 182 after this Sunday’s game against Miami.