It’s one of those sports moments where you will always remember where you were. It wasn’t a game or a play, but a moment, a moment that changed a franchise.
When the Buffalo Bills signed defensive end Mario Williams to one of the richest contracts in NFL history (6 years for $100 million dollars), everything in Western New York changed.
Signing Williams brings in a top defensive player who can rush the passer, and change the way this team plays defense. While last year’s group was one of the worst in the league at getting to the opposing quarterback, bringing in a player of this caliber will not only help bring the pressure, but also help make the rest of the defense better because of it.
The move changes the way this team plays, but that’s not the biggest change that happened.
To me, as big as the signing was on the flied was (and it was huge), it was even bigger off it.
For much of the past decade the Buffalo Bills were an after-thought, the laughing stock of not only the AFC East, but the NFL in general. With this signing the Bills have proved they are back on the map, and they mean business.
The signing of Williams proved that the Bills are tired of laying around and losing, or just waiting for things to fall their way. With the acquisition they are able to fill their biggest need (pass-rush) and bring a spot light back to Western New York.
For years this franchise sat in mediocrity, not having been to the playoffs since 1999, and not having won a playoff game since 1995. And as bad as that drought is, it seems twice as bad when you think about all the terrible decisions that occurred during that decade-plus.
Whether it Rob Johnson over Doug Flutie, Greg Williams, J.P. Losman, Trent Edwards, or just about anyone else, the team has often gone the cheap, less-splashier route. By going that way the team was never able to prove to anyone outside of their fan base (and even many of their fans) that they really cared about competing and winning a Super Bowl.
With this move, (and the team’s continued aggression in free-agency) they finally seem to be proving to everyone, fan or not, that they are ready to compete, and that is huge.
As many NFL analysts pointed out after the signing, bringing Williams in to Buffalo can not only bring the fans excitement level up, but even help bring other top players into the fold, and I believe that is exactly what will happen.
A few years ago a girl asked me who my favorite NFL team was, when I proudly said, “the Buffalo Bills,” she looked back at me and said, “oh, I forgot they were a team.”
Thanks to Mario Williams, no one will be forgetting any more.
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