1 - Sunday will be special for Kyle Williams
Though the game itself will have little impact on the standings, Buffalo’s Week 17 matchup with the Dolphins will act as the culmination of a lifetime’s worth of hard work and dedication for Kyle Williams.
The veteran defensive tackle announced his retirement on Friday morning. Williams, who has established a connection with the people of Western New York like few before him have, will play in front of 70,000 screaming Buffalo fans for the final time this Sunday.
Head coach Sean McDermott feels as though the season finale will serve as a celebration of Williams’ storied career, an afternoon made up of powerful and sentimental moments.
“Oh, man,” McDermott said. “[It will be] emotional. I think it’ll be great for fans. When I think back about the signs that I’ve seen this year, I watched Kyle. We have the families come in when we play away for the Saturday practice. I’ve been able to watch Kyle with his kids, watch him run around. To watch Jill [Williams] film, to hold her phone up and film Kyle, was one of the signs that I saw the other day, and I’m going, ‘Could this be it?’
“They’re trying to capture those special moments. It’ll be a four hour or longer day full of just special moments, and moments that I’ll personally never forget. Moments that, it’ll be fun to be a part of. It’ll be kind of a landmark opportunity for all of us to be apart of and just take part in as Kyle has his day.”
Sitting at 31 tackles and five sacks on the season, Williams is still more than capable of playing at a high level. His decision to walk away while he’s still an impactful player only solidifies the type of person he is, according to McDermott.
“I’ll lead off by saying that I respect Kyle more for doing what he’s doing because of the reason that he’s doing it, and that’s his family,” McDermott said. “He knows that we’re headed in the right direction, and Kyle can still play. That’s a hard decision to make. But putting his family first, really, to me, is befitting of a man like Kyle. You see players hang on and continue to get their identity from this game, and he’s more than that. He’s bigger than that.”
2 - Williams’ decision ‘the worst Christmas present’
On a day that’s supposed to be joyous and blissful, McDermott was handed inevitable information that he didn’t want to hear.
Williams informed his head coach of his decision on Christmas Eve. For McDermott, the news was an unwanted gift.
“He gave me a little bit of a Christmas present, I told him it was the worst Christmas present a man could get on Monday,” McDermott said. “That’s when he first shared with me. With shared some moments, and I’m just extremely proud of him. Can’t wait to watch him this weekend.”
Though he’ll obviously miss his presence, McDermott is incredibly proud of Williams and what he’s accomplished throughout his 13-year career. The defender’s work ethic is what McDermott will remember most.
“When you watch him, probably the biggest thing I’ll remember is, I’d go into the training room around 7:00 p.m. and there aren’t many players left,” McDermott said. “He’s one of the players who is always in there. He’s either in the cold tub or hot tub, getting treatment at 7:00 p.m. instead of being with his family. He’s a true pro and a true Buffalo Bill.”
3 - Williams leaves big hole to fill
When searching for a suitable replacement for Williams this offseason, Buffalo’s front office will be tasked with finding more than just another defensive tackle.
In Williams, the Bills are losing a leader, somebody who has served as the heart of soul of their defense for the past several years. McDermott knows that Williams is irreplaceable, and he’s urged the team’s young core to watch the way the veteran handles himself in an attempt to carry his presence into the future.
“You can’t replace a guy like Kyle, they come around once in a career,” McDermott said. “Just for all the reasons that you and I both know. What we’ll take from Kyle is all of the great things, and we’ll embed them in what we do.
“It’s been a great opportunity for our young players to watch, and we meet every Friday, first and second year players, in a leadership type development meeting. I’ve encouraged our young players to watch our older players, because before you know it, they’ll be gone. What greater lesson, from a leadership standpoint, to learn when it’s led by example? Kyle’s done that for a number of years here.”
Though it would be nearly impossible for one player to match Williams’ presence, McDermott feels as though rookie defender Harrison Phillips has shown a personality similar of that to his teammate.
“From a habits standpoint I would say yes,” McDermott said. “Watching Harrison and his habits and the way he approaches his job. He’s a connector with people much like Kyle is. I would say he’s off to a start where he has a chance.”