On March 5th, 2012, the Bills signed highly sought after free agent, Mario Williams to the most lucrative, guaranteed contract for any defensive player in NFL history. He signed a 6 year, $100 million contract with $50 million guaranteed. This signing has shocked the football world, as most people would have thought, just like other big name free agents have done in the past, Williams would have signed somewhere else. Buffalo is a city that has been criticized negatively by the likes of Tom Brady, Willis McGahee (former Bills RB), Marshawn Lynch (former Bills RB), and many media outlets. So the main question for most people is why did he choose Buffalo over the likes of Washington, Tennessee, or Chicago?
As crazy as it may sound I don’t think it was all about the money, because Williams could have received similar numbers anywhere he went. I am not saying it didn’t play somewhat of a role, as now Williams and his family are financial set for many lifetimes, but I believe so many other factors played a more significant role than did the numbers of the contract. After hearing his press conference shortly after he signed his name on the dotted line, I am convinced that money was only the final step of many others that convinced him to sign. Born and raised in Richland, North Carolina, Williams stated that Buffalo felt a lot like home. He is an outdoors-man, who enjoys hunting and fishing, and was ecstatic to find out that deers are often spotted in the yards of many homes in Western New York. The whole entire press conference focused on other reasons why he chose Buffalo over other cities, and money was talked about very briefly.
Not only did Buffalo feel like home for Williams and his fiance, but he also recognized the dedication and love that Bills have for their team, even though we have been let down so many times, the true fans always support the team. He thought that the front office, particularly Buddy Nix and Russ Brandon, were completely up front and honest from the first day he stepped off the plane in Buffalo and often, as he stated, many other teams are not. He was welcomed by current player Kyle Williams who also escorted Williams around town with the members of the front office, and in Kyle’s and Mario’s conversations, he realized that their defensive front could compete as one of the best in the league. Former Bills quarterback and Hall of Famer, Jim Kelly also played a huge role in his decision, as Kelly and his family welcomed Williams into their home and praised as to how great Buffalo as a city, community and fan base, was to live in and play for. Kelly even used Williams and his shared love for the outdoors to his advantage, as he promised he would take Williams out hunting with him.
Williams felt right at home because Buffalo is like home for many Americans. The city has had its shares of disappointments and often the Professional sports teams of the town are at the top of that list, but Buffalo underneath the disappointment has some wonderful aspects that make this city great. We are a city of blue-collar, hard working Americans, we are family orientated and the city of good neighbors, that happen to love our sports more than life itself (except family, hopefully?). Mario Williams saw past the money, and saw all the great in our city. He saw the potential in a team that is often a joke of league, but in recent years have made steps in the right direction. He saw a city he could live and work in, a city he could marry and raise his children in, he saw his hometown in Buffalo, and then after experiencing all that, the Bills told him they wanted Williams to be their man and promised him they would make history with his contract. Who in their right mind would ever turn all that down, hence Williams is now a Buffalonian. So for all the doubters and “haters” of our city, give us a break, and come see what Williams and so many others see in our city.
Finally, as a “die hard” Bills fan for many years, this signing is the greatest free agent acquisition in Bills history, at least in my 30 year lifetime. He is a solid guy off the field, but a monster on the field. The Texans saw that “monster” and signed him before the draft of 2006 even took place, and 6 years later, the Bills still see that “monster” in him, and if no injuries occur, Williams will prove his worth immediately. This pick up also helps out in so many other fascists of the game, as his presence on the line will not only increase the teams sack numbers, but will also help out immensely in the secondary. It will also impact the the offensive as they will have more opportunities on the field, as the defense will take some time of possession away from opponents, meaning players like Tom Brady (new AFC East opponent) will be on the field less. It also has helped in the up and coming draft, as the Bills have already addressed a huge need with signing Williams, and they now can turn their attention on other holes this team still has. It helps out ticket sales, shown by the 1000 extra season tickets bought the first day after the signing, which in turn decreases black-outs, which we as Bills fans are sadly too used to.
So I have to say thank you to Mr. “Super” Mario Williams for coming to Buffalo! Myself, just like so many other fans, welcome him with open arms and I guarantee that will be proven when his jersey is the most worn at Ralph Wilson Stadium. I, am not naive and understand that ONE player (except Peyton Manning) can’t make a a team, but a player of Williams’ stature, can make ONE hell of an impact on the team.
So welcome Mario, I wish you nothing but success!! I know you will be a great Bill and a great Buffalonian, and have a great chance to join a very elite group of men, as one of the greatest Bill’s to play, but just one thing, the deer in your backyard cannot be hunted! (referring to Williams question about being able to hunt deer in your yard)