In one announcement, Sunday’s game turned from a meaningless week-17 game with no playoff implications into a signature game for past, present, and future. Kyle Williams, a 13 year staple in a revolving door franchise, announced he would be retiring after the 2018 season finale.
Words can’t describe what Kyle Williams meant to the Buffalo Bills franchise. He was a true blessing to have on the field, in the locker room, and in the community. Surviving numerous coaches, front office staff, and even ownership, Kyle remained focused and motivated through it all.
While his tenure didn’t come with the team success Kyle would have wanted, he was able to ride off into the sunset on his own terms. The Bills truly made Sunday’s game about him, from beginning introductions to his last snap. Kyle’s 13 years of exemplary service has ended and he will now move on to some well deserved family time, along with whatever the next chapter will bring him.
The Bills also need to turn the page to their next chapter and try to fill the huge leadership void left by Kyle’s retirement. I don’t know if they’ll ever find another leader like Kyle. However, his leadership and legacy is so strong it will carry on in the locker room after he is gone. Moving forward, it will need to be a collective effort from several players.
The first name that comes to mind is Lorenzo Alexander. The business side of things will need to be worked out first with another contract, but if Alexander is back next season, his already strong leadership presence will grow even more.
Sean McDermott said he’d like a leadership role established in every position group. The most immediate void is now among the defensive line. If you go by seniority, that would put Jerry Hughes at the top now. Hughes is a fiery competitor, sometimes a little too fiery, resulting in some costly penalties over the years, but his high energy and passion make for good potential leadership qualities.
Shaq Lawson is another player that could step into a leadership role. Before training camp, there was questions about whether or not Lawson would even remain on the roster. He improved on and off the field, earning the right to keep his spot going into 2019.
Star Lotulelei and Trent Murphy will both enter their second season with the Bills and their seventh and sixth NFL seasons respectively. Star seems more quiet and soft spoken while Murphy dealt with injuries throughout the season. Both players certainly have the veteran experience to take on a leadership role.
Harrison Phillips may only be going into his second season in the NFL, but if there was a player most impacted by Kyle’s presence, it is Phillips. Those two players became very close in one short season and Phillips will take everything he’s learned from Kyle on and off the field throughout his entire career.
As the Bills look to fill leadership roles on offense and defense going forward – along with another healthy roster turnover – Kyle Williams legacy will live on within the Bills’ franchise for years to come.
Editor’s babble: It will be interesting to see how the leadership roles on defense will evolve. Kyle Williams did not start out as a vocal leader early in his career. He grew into a leadership role, just as players like Tremaine Edmunds and Harrison Phillips will do in time. Thanks to Erik Smeal for his excellent contributions to our blog. You can find Erik on Twitter @Buffwagon819.