|National Football League|
Bills' Kyle Williams focused on team goals, not his future
By JOHN WAWROW
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Kyle Williams stood at his locker, grudgingly discussing a topic he'd prefer to avoid: himself.
The Bills defensive tackle acknowledged Wednesday he's heard the many well-wishes and accolades from coaches, and current and former teammates, rooting for him to make the playoffs in what might be Williams' 12th and final season in Buffalo - and the NFL for that matter.
And yet Williams was defiant about refusing to create any sort of a spectacle by making the Bills' season finale at Miami on Sunday about him.
"I appreciate the compliments, and I'm glad that you guys ask them the questions about me," Williams said. "But this is about our football team, our organization, and it's much bigger than me."
Though their chances are slim, the Bills (8-7) are in playoff contention entering the final week of the season for the first time in Williams' tenure.
Aside from having to beat Miami (6-9), the Bills need either the Ravens to lose to Cincinnati, or both the Titans and Los Angeles Chargers to lose for Buffalo to end a 17-season playoff drought - the longest active streak in North America's four major professional sports.
To hear Williams talk, the Bills' AFC East rival Dolphins represent nothing more than the next opponent on a 17-week schedule.
"I think about it the same way I thought about the game last week," he said. "All that stuff on the side, and all the extras and distractions, that's really not going to help us win."
Williams won't even look beyond the game Sunday to address his future with his contract expiring after this season.
"I'm not going down that road," he said.
Williams acknowledged he can be stubborn and even a contrarian, especially when it comes to finding motivation in proving wrong anyone who has ever doubted his ability.
He's had plenty of experience in exceeding expectations.
Despite starting 33 of 46 games at LSU and earning first-team SEC honors in his senior season, the 6-foot, 295-pound Williams was considered undersized by NFL standards and was selected by Buffalo in the fifth round of the 2006 draft.
Williams proceeded to take over the starting job six games into his rookie season and now leads Bills defensive tackles with 43+ sacks, and his 166 games rank 11th on the team list. He's earned five Pro Bowl honors and a second-team All-Pro selection in 2010
First-year coach Sean McDermott became an immediate fan of Williams, and he often grows emotional when referencing the player's career and the impact he's made as a leader on a rebuilding team.
"It's hard not to gravitate toward a guy like that, because of who he is as a person more so than anything," said McDermott, who coaxed Williams into returning after he contemplated retirement following last season. "How could you not like the way he plays and appreciate that, right?"
First-year defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said there is no player on the team who deserves to make the playoffs more than Williams.
"Your heart goes out to him. You want to see it happen," Frazier said. "I can't imagine a finer player, a finer person, a more deserving person than Kyle."
Former Bills defensive end Chris Kelsay has several reasons to root for Williams to make the playoffs.
For one, it would end the team's drought. Secondly, Kelsay noted Williams is carrying the torch for his former teammates who never got to the postseason.
"I think that's kind of the responsibility for guys like Kyle, who have been there for 12 years," said Kelsay, who spent his entire 10-year career in Buffalo from 2003-12.
"To see him and the team as a whole get there would be a very proud moment for everybody that's paying attention to the Buffalo Bills and Kyle Williams."
Williams said he can appreciate Kelsay's comments.
He's also proud of hearing how current and former teammates have credited him for helping further their careers with the advice he's provided.
It's the least Williams said he could do.
"I think it's an opportunity to pay it forward," he said.
Williams then referenced a team employee he encountered shoveling snow outside the Bills' facility when he arrived early Wednesday.
"There's probably countless people in this building who have done stuff for me I don't even know about." Williams said. "He's doing that for us."
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Updated December 27, 2017