Kyle Williams: 'I've been blessed to be here so long'

The Bills defensive tackle is a rare athlete to spend 13 seasons with the same team

Sal Capaccio
April 17, 2018 - 2:27 pm

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

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Kyle Williams has started the 13th offseason program of his NFL career. You might think it’s just the same thing, year-in, year-out. That’s not the case, said the Bills veteran defensive tackle.

“They’re all new,” he told reporters Tuesday at the team’s facility. “You’ve got new faces, you’ve got new coaches, you’ve got a new plan. So, there’s always a freshness to it. There’s a balance.”

For the soon-to-be 35-year old Williams, his career has reflected the old adage “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” He’s still playing for the same organization that drafted him in 2006. Still living in the same city he has since he was 22 years old. Still approaching the game with the same attitude and desire he’s had every day of his career.

What’s changed has been the coaches, players, and front office around him. Counting interim head coaches Perry Fewell (2009) and Anthony Lynn (2016), Williams is playing for his seventh head coach in 13 seasons. He’s also had seven defensive coordinators and nine defensive line coaches. In fact, counting new defensive line coach Bill Teerlinck, Williams has now had a different position coach in seven straight seasons.

“It’s kind of been what I guess my career has kind of looked like loosely, the only constant has been change,” Williams said. “Whether it’s new guys, new coaches, or new players. But whether it’s the same coaching staff, same defense, you’re always going to have new faces, new people coming in, people that you’re going to want to bring up to speed. We talk a lot, especially defensively, about speaking the same language. Are we communicating the same way? Are we seeing things the same way? So, that never changes. When you bring new guys in, you have to get them up to speed on what you’re doing, that way you’re all speaking with one voice.”

For any professional athlete to play 13 seasons is quite an achievement. But to spend every one of those years with the exact same organization, the one that drafted or signed you, is rare, especially in today’s world of free agency and salary caps. It takes both the player’s and team’s willingness to have each other for so long, and that just doesn’t happen very often, even for the greatest players.

Williams has been that exception in Buffalo. He’s played 167 games in a Bills uniform, 11th most all-time. If he stays healthy and suits up for all 16 games this year, he’ll be seventh on that list, passing names such as Kent Hull and Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas.

“I’ve been lucky, I’ve been blessed to be here so long,” Williams says when asked how that’s happened. “For a guy who came in and most were, ‘maybe he’ll be around for a little bit, maybe he won’t, we’ll see.’ The only expectations I ever had of myself was the opportunity to compete and go out and prove my spot, and I’ve always done that, and I appreciate this organization and this city and this town and I think it’s just kind of worked out. We’re obviously very lucky to do it. There’s a lot of great players that go on and go to different places or move on. We’re just the lucky needle in the haystack that that hasn’t played out that way.”

 

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