After 13 seasons the man described as the “heart and soul” of the Bills is calling it a career.
Sunday’s finale against the Dolphins will be the last for veteran Kyle Williams.
Throughout his career, the longtime defensive tackle has personified Buffalo with his work ethic and grit.
After participating in his final practice on Friday, Williams said he wished he could be 22-years-old and start his career all over again — but knew it was the right time to retire.
“One of my biggest fears is to come back and play a year and not hold up my end of the bargain,” Williams said while reflecting on his career.
“I’ve set a standard for how I want to compete. If I was dragging a leg around not productive, I don’t know emotionally and in my mind if I’d be able to handle that. Feeling healthy, feeling good and still able to play at a high level is a cherry on top. With clarity, and all those things going on, it’s a good feeling knowing I didn’t slip or let my teammates down as I walk away.
Williams has truly defied the odds since entering the NFL. Scouts didn’t necessarily believe he had the physical tools to be a dominant player in the league.
One scout wrote, “He lacks elite physical skills and will likely be best suited to play as a reserve”
In total, the defensive tackle was selected to five Pro Bowls and his 605 tackles are the most among active defensive tackles since 2006.
Williams’ 48.5 sacks are the most at the position in franchise history.
And, when he steps off the field Sunday, Williams will have played 183 career games with the team — the most all-time among DTs as well.
“I never cheated myself,” he said. “Whether it’s our fans, owners, or teammates, I literally gave everything I had every day. I gave it all that I could. I’m comfortable knowing that and moving forward here.”
“Walking out there, walk past 95 and give him a pat on the back just because we’re all going to miss him,” added Micah Hyde following the team’s final practice ahead of Sunday’s game.
“He’s irreplaceable. You can’t bring in a guy in free agency and the draft and plug them in and say be ‘Kyle Williams.’ It’s impossible. Everything he’s been able to do on and off the football field is amazing.”
While a potential retirement has been speculated throughout the years, the 35-year-old knew this season would likely be his last.
“I watched way too many t-ball and soccer games over FaceTime this spring. More so than ever,” he said. “At the end of the day, it came down to the things that I say are the most important to me Are they really the most important thing or am I saying it because everyone else does?
“I told everybody there’s never a good time. It’s going to hurt walking away. There is going to be avoid in my life. Those are all things we’re going to have to process and work through. It’s never easy.”
With free agency, it’s rare to see players play their entire career with one organization. Being able to suit up for the Bills for the past 13 seasons means even more to the defensive tackle and his family.
“We came here 22-years-old, freshly married, no kids, and we walk away on the doorstep of 36 with five,” Williams said.
“So, our family has grown up here. Our kids this is all they know and, this is all we know. We never lived outside Louisiana. So, we’ve lived in Louisiana and in Buffalo, so that’s something to be proud of.”