ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. ( release )
Mario Williams with General Manager Buddy Nix and Head Coach Chan Gailey Thursday, March 15, 2012
General Manager Buddy Nix Opening Remarks:
I want you guys to remember now good things come to the people that wait so you guys have been waiting and we have a good thing here. I just want to tell you it is an exciting day for us and our football team. We got a lot better. For our organization it has been a long day or a long two days but it’s worth the wait. I want to make sure that I thank all of these people that have worked hard to get to this point. First of all of course is Mr. Wilson. A lot of times he takes some heat for not spending the money, not wanting to win and all those things. I have told you guys many times that he has never said don’t do it that’s too much money. He has always said do whatever it takes and if we have the resources we will do it. I think he has proved that and also has in the past. It has been kind of a long process. Russ Brandon knows everyone in this area and has made Mario and (his fiancé) Erin feel at home and has taken care of the things that has to be done when moving your family. Jim Overdorf I can’t tell you how much time he spent with Mario’s agents. Jim late at night and every day working on this thing and trying to make sure we got it done. Coach Gailey let the coaches do a lot of work. Dave Wannstedt and Giff Smith, his position coach, those guys have spent a lot of time with him and have done a lot of things to help us with it. Kyle Williams and our players again I have said this in the past, if you really want to know the truth about the coaches and the front office then ask the players that are there. We are all in a recruiting mode and we say the things they want to hear but players tell them like it is. Kyle and of course ex-players like Jim Kelly that have done a lot with us to help this come about has really been a good long process but one that has been fun. The next and last group I want to thank is our fans. You drive up Abbott Road and you see all the signs that made Mario feel like he is wanted in Buffalo. Once we got him here and got him to visit with not the people that heard about Buffalo but the people that live here then you find out what a unique place this is. He is going to help it even get better.
Mario Williams Opening Statement:
I am going to talk as clear as I can. I was in the back trying to sign the papers and I couldn’t even write my name but I will do the best I can. First, I would like to thank Mr. Wilson. Without him none of this would be possible. I am just so excited to come here and see the city. Like Buddy said it’s one of those things you hear so much about living here, but until you actually get here, see what is here, what is in front of you and see the fans and everything that this great city has to offer. As far as seeing my name in pizzas that was kind of crazy but it definitely got the message across. I think the biggest thing for me is coming here, being able to see the coaches, the D-line coach, the GM, the stadium and what is going on around here as far as taking the next step and producing. Just the endless possibilities and the great guys upstairs in the front office just sold me immediately. It’s one of those things that you don’t get many chances and opportunities like this to be the guy who can help the team get over the hump and that is definitely what I am here for. My whole intention is to come here and work with guys like Kyle (Williams) and Dareus and make this thing happen. I feel like this is a great opportunity for me, the team and for us to succeed and get better. This city is looking for that and looking for the Bills to be where we need to be at and for the fans of this great city. I am ecstatic. I am excited and can’t wait for the opportunity to get out there and make things happen. My biggest thing is I have dealt with more adversity than most. There is no pressure. I have played obviously against great quarterbacks. I look forward to playing against these quarterbacks and chasing them down a bit and making this happen. My biggest thing is I am just so excited. There are so many people to thank. It has been a long couple of days and I am tired. I really am but it is definitely worth it. From day one it has been nothing but love here and the camaraderie. The biggest thing for me is feeling comfortable, not only with my teammates but with the coaches and I can already see the bond here. I look forward to working with them, turning this thing around and making it happen.
Mario Williams question and answer:
On the last two days being in Buffalo:
Number one thing I heard is it’s almost like a college atmosphere in the simple fact of this is what people bleed, breathe and live, so I am really happy for the opportunity to be part of it. I had to duck and dodge a little bit because there were a lot of people out there and I did not want to get run over by anybody but that is great. That’s what you want and you want a fan base like that. This great city definitely offers that.
On why Buffalo:
I found in my six years of being in the league that you don’t get a lot of guys that are upfront with you. I think there is a lot of blowing smoke from certain outlets, I will put it that way, and I think the number one thing like I said is coming here and seeing them embrace me and definitely the comfort level of everybody that surrounded me when I got here. Even seeing Jim Kelly was definitely a big plus for me. He did some heavy recruiting and threw in a couple of hunting adventures and things like that. Definitely just seeing everything that was here. I think the biggest shock too was my old coach Bill Kollar used to tell me that my ears lie to me but my eyes don’t. I think that’s the biggest thing that happened. I heard so much stuff about this city and it’s not fair to the simple fact that there are great people here. Caring and compassionate people that definitely have your back and I see that already. I just feel completely welcome and look at me as a person and somebody that can come here and help out so that his where I want to be the person to help out.
On the promise of playing with Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus:
It was huge. I know those guys and having coach Kollar for three years I know about Kyle. That is all he ever talked about is how great Kyle is and if we had him and this and that and all that stuff coach says. But anyways I know what we have inside and the biggest thing for a defensive end is looking to when you get around that edge the quarterback not stepping up. I know that’s what we have here and to me that is one huge sell is those two guys pushing the pocket. Then hopefully I get the sacks, hopefully that’s how it turns out. But anyway I’m excited. I had a chance to talk to them and go over things with them like scheme and things to expect and their mentalities but most importantly living. Football is 50-percent of this but the next 50-percent is how I am going to feel comfortable outside of football and outside of the stadium. They really helped me out and everybody has been a great help and telling me the odds and ends of the city.
On the point in the process that Buffalo was the place he wanted to be:
I came into this with completely an open mind. When I first got here I didn’t want any distractions or anybody persuading me left or right. I was here until about 12:30am Wednesday morning with Kyle and pretty much talked to him. I picked his brain and even Giff just talking to him and basically just what’s what. I told him this is football. If you tell me we are lining up in a 4-3 defense and go get the quarterback then we don’t need to go over x’s and o’s. It was so comfortable after that point from talking to the coaches and just seeing this area and the facility and know what upgrades that are coming in the near future, that was it. That was pretty much it before anybody said anything about any numbers or anything like that. She (Erin) came here pretty much just to come here I think. At that point I was ready. The only other thing left to do was like I said outside of football was knowing the city, a place to live and things like that.
On what affected his decision besides the money and team:
That there’s deer in your backyard. So, you know as long as, I don’t know how it goes as far as hunting in your backyard but no, honestly, it’s definitely different I can say that we’ll deal with that later. I think that’s my biggest thing, that’s all that matters to me. You look at numbers and things like that but I was the first pick in 2006 and God bless for that to go down so all that’s fine and dandy. I just wanted to be somewhere where I felt like we got guys who are completely honest from players, to the top and somewhere where I can fit in and feel comfortable and Jim (Kelly) definitely helped that as far as him letting me into his house and talking to his wife and everything was just great and I couldn’t say no, I mean from looking at apples to apples it’s a family atmosphere here. I think the biggest thing is you go from a big city to a small city or a small city to big city and then for this example, for this being, it almost feels like a big Richlands, which is where I’m from in case you didn’t know that. It feels like a big home atmosphere and I mean it was just like going back. It was just like settling in and making it happen.
On his impression of the city and organization before this process and exploring other options:
Yeah obviously like I said with the hearing thing. You hear so much about it’s cold, well it’s cold in a lot of places. You hear so much about there’s really nothing to do, well it’s a family atmosphere here but everything is in reach. If you want to go to Toronto, if you want to fly to New York or Boston its right there, you know, you just hop on a plane and it’s just like Houston to Austin, Houston to Dallas or whatever, its real quick. Once you get here and they told me when I got here, it’s like you’re going to see why people live here and stay here and I think that was the biggest thing for me is just actually seeing that it’s not just what everybody says. Every place has its own thing and I think that’s the biggest thing that sold me. As far as when I came here I think the two days of being here I think it was kind of necessary to digest all that and see things so when I came in with a open mind I wasn’t just here and then I’ll see you later on to the next. Like everybody knows there’s opportunities everywhere, that’s the point of this process and that’s the point of visiting teams and even I think the biggest thing with here is all I heard about here is hearsay. I know about other locations already so that wasn’t even a deciding factor, I’ve been to other cities just because but I’ve never been here so I had to actually take my time, be open-minded, and make my decision for myself.
On if he was told there would be future additions:
I was pretty much told, which it is what it is, there’s 11 guys on the football field and regardless of who you are, regardless of what you’ve done, you’re not going to do it alone. So, I mean I’m sure we’re obviously going to add more pieces to this puzzle and I was just reassured no matter what happens don’t think that you have to do all this. I can’t throw and catch the football at the same time, I can’t sack the quarterback and catch an interception at the same time. The biggest thing is we as a team, as brothers we have to be all on one accord and we have to all have the same mentality, the same desire, and the same get after that the man besides you has. So, I think the biggest thing with me coming here, you know I’m not a vocal guy, I go out there and I play and my biggest thing is to have everybody put everybody else on the same standard and level and continue to grow and continue to get better.
On why he visited Buffalo first:
I know everywhere else, like I’ve been some way, shape or form I’ve been everywhere else. I played here I think it was three years ago and pretty much all I saw was this. When I was coming out from the draft I came here and that’s the first time I met Bill, Bill Kollar. So I’ve seen a little bit of it but I’ve been to other cities that were interested so like I said football is 50% of it but you got to be comfortable with the other 50 if you don’t anything about a city. If you don’t know anything about what goes on or what there is to do or how comfortable you’re going to be when you leave the facility. So I’ve been to the other cities that were involved so like I said it wasn’t even a thought, I had to come here first because this is the one thing I haven’t seen in depth, I’ve just heard things. I knew that from the beginning I was definitely interested in this team and I have talked to other players about it prior to even getting up to this point weeks ago so that was already in my mind we got to go here first because I got to see what they have, I got to see how I’m going to live, and when I first got here that’s the first thing I said was besides football what is there? Where can I be at? Where can I live? What is there to do? How am I not going to feel like all I got to do is go to football practice, play football games and then it’s like oh I got to go home and not know what’s there.
On the motivation and pressure after signing this deal:
The only pressure and motivation I have is to come in here and do what I need to do with my teammates and for us to succeed. I mean everything else, I’ll let you guys talk about numbers, that’s fine but after that, after signing and everything like that, its football now and me being comfortable, my teammates being comfortable, my coaches being comfortable. What happened to me in the past, like I said from the day I got drafted to last year missing that part of the season, I got a lot to do for myself and that’s what matters, to go out and play to get me better, to get my teammates better, my teammates to make me better and ultimately for us to win games. So, pretty much I don’t see any pressure, I just see work that needs to be done, not just for myself but for my teammates because we all have to hold each other on the same level, the same accord.
On how close the Bills are to being a playoff team:
Last year, the season was going and I, obviously the buzz that was here we all were like wow, you know, look their 5-0, they got something going on over there. The injury bugs hit here just like they did there and some key players were missing and things like that so it’s here. We saw that last year from the beginning of the season the main thing is maintaining that and keeping it going and comes with that you got to have the leadership, you got to have guys continuously pushing and keeping the motor running and keeping things going where we’re not going to fall off, we’re here we’re in these games that are close, we got to win these games and so forth. You saw from the very beginning of last year what is capable here. We are just adding more pieces.
Buddy Nix question and answer:
On how this process worked for him over the past few days:
It was actually longer than two-and-a-half (days). As soon as the season was over, Tommy Gibbons and the pro department put all of the unrestricted free agents up on the board of we think this guy’s going to hit the market and whose number one for us at this position. And the number one guy for us from day one was this guy (pointing to Mario Williams). And so it’s been a process that’s been ongoing and obviously you don’t do anything until the team that’s got him doesn’t sign him and then he hits free agency. But it’s been a long process and it’s been fun, especially since it turned out right.
On how much he thinks this signing will help his recruiting process:
I think it’ll help us. I think when you see a guy of his stature and what he’s done choose Buffalo - and again we all talk about the big money and the contract, but a lot of teams have those - it’s got to be something else, too. And it’s like Mario said: 50 percent of it is what the surroundings are, what he’s got to do and where he lives. So I think all of that helps. I think if he did it there’s something there.
On how a signing of this caliber fits in to his philosophy of drafting and developing:
It doesn’t change any of that. Again, we’ve said from day one - and you guys never believe us, don’t listen and don’t believe what we say anyway - but my point is we’ve said from day one that if there’s a guy there that we think can make the difference we’ll be aggressive and go after the guy. So this just plugs up a piece of the puzzle and he’ll get us over the hump. He’s a position of need that we were able to fill but the same philosophy will hold through in the draft.
On how concerned he was after the first night of losing free agent WR Robert Meachem to make sure Williams would stay in Buffalo and sign:
We bring in a lot of people. But I’m going to say this again, our number one goal was to sign Mario. That was our number one need and our number one goal. We felt like it was something we had to have. We like Robert and we think he’s a good player. We have good receivers and there are a lot of them out there. I actually got a call in the middle of the night and they said he’s (Robert’s) been offered this. We said good luck; it’s really good for him.
On if they are still actively in pursuit of adding another receiver via free agency:
I told you guys when we met one time before that we may be out of the business by Friday… have you seen his (Mario) contract? We may be out of the business (laughs jokingly).
On if he is surprised that the first 48 hours of free agency had an exploding market:
I’m not. I think everybody talks about the salary cap and it’s going to jump and all that kind of stuff, but it hasn’t. Still people do what they have to do. You use your resources and you get your priorities straight. And if it’s important enough to you, you do what you have to do.
Chan Gailey question and answer:
On how this allows his defense to progress:
Anytime you add a player of this caliber, and I think he said it well, he’s a piece of the puzzle. He’s not really any bigger than any other piece of the puzzle. He can go play great and if we don’t have 10 other guys playing well it doesn’t make any difference. That’s what makes football such a unique game. I told him not to feel the pressure of having to be some kind of unbelievable player, unbelievable leader, and unbelievable entity of our football team. He’s a great player in his own right or he wouldn’t be standing up here. He wouldn’t be where he is. Just go do what you do and he’ll make us better and so I feel like we’ve added this piece of the puzzle and the front office, Buddy and everybody did such a great job. Now this takes us one more step closer to where we want to be. We talk about wanting to be champions and that’s the goal. There is no other goal and he helps us get one step closer to that. We’ve got to do it, you can’t just talk about it, but you’ve got to go do it.
On if he feels like the signing of Williams along with getting his injured guys back will shift the defensive landscape in this division:
That’s a pretty broad statement to say it’s going to shift the landscape in the division but I know we got better. We got a lot better and I think our pass rush has improved greatly just in the last 45-minutes.
On how much he expects the pass rush to be improved percentage wise:
I can’t put a percentage on how much better we are but I know we’re appreciatively better and I know that we will get more pressure on the passer. I don’t think there’s any question about that. You add this piece, you add a healthy Kyle Williams to it, we will be able to put some pressure on the quarterback that we were not able to do last year.
On how much a move like this helps the rest of the defense:
It’s a lot easier to play in the secondary now. It is. A better pass rush makes a better secondary. A better defense makes a better offense. It all works together. That’s what’s great about our game. I think Mario said it best ‘everybody holds everybody accountable to a standard to get us where we want to be and that’s the key.’ And that’s what he reiterated to me in our meeting one-on-one. He expects to come in and be that worker. He’s not going to stand up in front of the team and talk, that’s not what his role is. His role is to go out and be a worker and produce and play on Sunday’s and help us win a championship. That’s what he told me he wanted to do. And that’s the answer you’re looking for. It’s not how many sacks can I get, how many this can I get, how many can I … (it’s) how can I help the team? And that was a great answer to me or a great conversation I had.
On if he had Williams in mind when they made the decision to switch to a 4-3 defensive scheme:
After talking to Buddy, yes I did. It sure was. And when I said ‘who’s the top guy?’ he said this guy (Williams) and I said ‘well that’s the guy I want, too, then.’ You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out (laughs).