The moment safety Aaron Williams was hit by Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry, every person that has followed the Buffalo Bills closely over the last two years had the same feeling in the pit of their stomachs: Would this be the hit that causes him to finally retire?
That's something that's been weighing on Williams' mind -- and heavily.
"That’s why it’s kind of a hard decision for me to make right now, because, in my heart I haven’t given you guys the Aaron Williams I know I can give y’all," the safety said. "I’ve been in two unfortunate situations where I’ve been out the season. It’s very frustrating because I know that I can be an impact player, and I can help this team out, and I can help this city bring playoff appearances, playoff wins, and if not a Super Bowl. If I’m not out there, it’s terrible."
Williams has had two consecutive seasons end because of neck injuries. Last offseason, there was genuine consideration given by Williams to retire, but he opted to come back after the doctors cleared him. Although doctors still believe he can play, there's something greater at play -- a sobering thought.
"Yeah, they said I can come back and play. But, they told me that last year and this same thing happened," Williams started. "So what happens if I say, ‘yeah, I’m going to play next year,’ and I get the same hit? Will I be here talking to you guys again? Will I be walking? It’s those thoughts that — I don’t sleep. I mean, my mind runs a thousand miles an hour thinking about what I’m going to do."
If it were up to his parents and close friends like former Bills running back Fred Jackson, the decision would be easy. They all believe the safety should retire.
"They’ve given me their honest opinion. They think that it’s time to step away, honestly," Williams said. "And I can understand where they’re coming from, and how they’ve seen me go in an ambulance twice in two years now, so, but, you can’t stop what your heart is telling you to do. We’ll see where it goes from there."
But, Williams is in a battle between his head and his heart, because he's the first to admit how much he loves the game, and how passionate he is for the franchise. It's all weighing on him in what will be a question that has no easy answer.
"I’m at the point in my career now, man, forget money. I’m trying to make history," he said. "That’s greater than money for me. It’s longevity, everybody’s going to know your name. Everybody’s going to know you were part of that team that broke that streak, and brought this city what they’ve longly been waiting for."
"Sometimes you don’t want to listen to the cons. That’s one of the more important things I’ve learned, is you have to listen to the cons more than the pros," he said. "I wouldn’t say I’m at peace with [retiring], but reality’s hitting."
Williams, 26, has two years left on his current contract, and said he will meet with the Bills to determine when they need a decision by, and go from there. After that, it's about coming to the decision that will be best for his life -- not just his career.