Around this time last year, safety Aaron Williams contemplated ending his playing career after missing most of two seasons with neck injuries and concussions before deciding he wanted to keep going.
The Bills released him and three other teams passed on signing him after workouts because of those medical concerns, leaving Williams to sit on the sidelines for the entire 2017 season. That was enough for Williams to know that now is the time to hang up the cleats and the hopes of returning to the field once and for all.
Williams explained his decision in an essay for The Players Tribune that opens with an apology to Bills fans for a rocky start to his time in Buffalo and closes with thanking them for making the city “the place where I grew up.”
“So when I woke up on January 1, 2018, and I hadn’t signed with a team, and I knew it was over, I just started to kind of wonder: What else could I love like that?” Williams wrote. “What else in this world is gonna give me that fix — that adrenaline, that anger, that feeling of dominating somebody to the point where they don’t want any piece of you. What else is there? Honestly, I haven’t found the answer yet. It’s all just still so new. All I know is, I’m never going to play another down in the NFL. And that hurts, for a lot of reasons. But when I think about those first two years in Buffalo — those wasted years when I was just a young punk who didn’t get it — man … it hurts a lot more.”
Williams was a Bills second-round pick in 2011 and wound up playing in 59 games over six seasons with the team.