ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – In a year with so much uncertainty and outside challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bills managed to come out with their best season since the 90’s as they are now one win away from advancing to the Super Bowl.
As the Bills get ready to take on the Chiefs in the AFC title game on Sunday, it’s hard not to reflect on everything they’ve not only accomplished up to this point but overcame in a season with coronavirus protocols and players, coaches and staff members throughout the league testing positive at different points during the year.
Luckily for the Bills, they only had three players test positive during the regular season and haven’t dealt with any during the playoffs. Even though that’s the case, you can’t blame anyone who opted out at the start of the season. It was hard to tell how this would play out.
Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and cornerback E.J. Gaines decided not to play this season and Tre’Davious White seriously considered opting out as well. It’s hard to believe it was five months ago when he said he wasn’t sure what he was going to do when it came to opting out or playing and he reflected on that decision earlier this week.
“At the time like everybody else we didn’t know how this thing was gonna go or how this COVID thing was gonna shake out. Just me losing somebody in my family that’s close, obviously it gets you thinking about things and gets you thinking about things more than football, just the bigger picture of life and yourself and your family and the people that you love,” White said.
“So that’s definitely something that played a part in it and that was the big reason why I was going through what I was going through as far as deciding what I was gonna do but ultimately just me getting here and me being in the building and seeing the day to day protocols and how the Bills and everyone around the organization was taking it seriously and taking all the precautions and using all the protocols to help everybody be safe. As I continue to go through it I feel comfortable and here I am.”
And the Bills are thankful for that as their star cornerback has helped this team get to the AFC Championship game in a season where he was selected to the Pro Bowl and earned All-Pro honors. White says he hasn’t looked back or regretted his decision but also respects the decision Lotulelei and Gaines made.
“I was always taught make a decision and stand on it so no matter if I was to choose to not play I was going to be fine regardless,”White said.
“I don’t think Star is missing out on anything because he chose his family over a game and the things he had going on so I don’t think he’s necessarily missing out on anything. Obviously Super Bowl chances, AFC championship chances don’t come around every day but it is what it is. It’s just one of those things and I think any guy’s decision, you can’t make a wrong decision in this thing.”
“You can’t just say he’s missing out or I would have missed out if I would have went the other way,” White explained.
Even in last week’s divisional game against the Ravens, White played a huge role in Taron Johnson’s game-changing pick-six that sealed the win for Buffalo as made a big block on Lamar Jackson who was Johnson’s last guy to beat running for the end zone.
“It definitely doesn’t go unnoticed. That’s something that we all noticed right away watching the film and seeing the highlights all over the TV,” Bills safety Micah Hyde said.
“You can tell that Tre’Davious was busting his ass to make that block for Taron but that’s just the type of guys that we have in this building. I think it’s safe to say any other guy on defense would have been busting his ass also to make that block for Taron too.”
And Johnson said he thought of one thing after that block.
“He’s the reason why I scored the touchdown so I’m definitely giving him my thanks all the time and he jokes with me all the time he gets 20% of what I get, whatever I get after that pick he said I get 20% of it,” Johnson laughed.
But White doesn’t think it’s a big deal because in his mind, he was just doing what they’ve been doing all year.
“First of all when he caught the ball I thought he was gonna go down because he kind of stumbled because the guy tried to tackle him but he just kept running and I saw him coming and I was like let me just start running you know this is what we do at practice you know somebody catches an interception in practice and we all run down with him and try to lead him down and that came into fruition in the game,” White said.
“It’s something that we practice all the time so it was routine. It was nothing that I didn’t do 16 weeks ago in practice or in camp or something like that. But it’s just something that we always practice so to me I don’t think it was that impressive because it’s something that we pretty much do on a day-to-day basis when a guy catches an interception or a fumble or something.”