Bills safety Aaron Williams, 27, announced his retirement from football with a touching essay on The Players’ Tribune. In it, he discussed the ugly 2016 hit from Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry that knocked him from the game for good.
Landry blasted Williams with a blindside, crack-back block on a Dolphins running play during the teams’ Week 7 meeting, sending the Buffalo defender to the hospital with the last in a series of spine injuries.
Williams would not play again in 2016 and no team picked him up in 2017. On Wednesday, he acknowledged the obvious — that his NFL career was over — but not before addressing the ugly hit, which earned Landry a $24,000 fine and fueled the most heated rivalry going right now in the AFC East. (Landry was also an instigator of the teams’ massive brawl in the 2017 finale; Dolphins coach Adam Gase later called Landry’s out-of-control behavior “as embarrassing as I’ve seen in a long time.”)
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“I feel like it was unnecessary,” Williams wrote of the block. “He didn’t have to hit me in the chin like he did.”
However, Williams said he has “no ill will towards Landry,” and explained why:
“I remember when I was a little kid, I used to watch that segment they had on ESPN with all the big hits — Jacked Up! or whatever it was called. You probably remember it. I used to replay those hits on YouTube like crazy. And a lot of those hits were like the one Landry laid on me. So I can’t be a hypocrite. I glorified that kind of hit myself growing up. Football’s a violent game. [Expletive] happens.”
Days later, Landry apologized and said he wished he could take back what angry Bills players called a “dirty” hit.
Williams, who played six seasons in the NFL, does have one lasting regret from that day.
“I wish I would have just stopped and turned around and looked at the stadium … the fans, the cameras, the lights … just one last time,” he wrote. “Because in my mind, even though I kind of knew that was it and football was over for me, I didn’t stop to take it all in. I didn’t cherish that moment.”