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Kyle Williams announces retirement, will play final game Sunday

Kyle Williams Retiring 2018
Posted at 9:36 AM, Dec 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-28 12:04:54-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Buffalo Bills have announced defensive lineman Kyle Williams will play his final game Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

Williams, a 13-year NFL veteran, has played his entire career in Buffalo and announced he will retire following the end of the season.

In a letter to fans, Williams said he is grateful to the Western New York community:

"There’s no perfect time to retire from a game, a franchise, and a city that mean so much to me and my family. But it’s time to hang up my cleats. A singular word sticks out when I look back on my NFL career. Grateful. To have spent this much time with one team. To have had the opportunity to get to know this organization, this community, and more importantly, the people. To have raised my family here. To have made countless memories and friendships, on and off the field. Thank you to the Pegulas, to the Wilson family, to my teammates, to Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane, to my family, and to the fans. I’ve been at this a really long time but it doesn’t feel like it, and that’s a testament to your unwavering support. I could not be more grateful to retire as a lifelong Buffalo Bill."

Joe B's Take

Starting in 2019, the Buffalo Bills will officially enter a season without longtime defensive tackle Kyle Williams for the first time since 2006. The former fifth-round pick instantly became a fan favorite in Buffalo from his rookie season on, taking on a starting role within his initial season with the team.

Throughout his 13-year career — during the prime of it at least — Williams became a borderline unblockable player that anchored the defensive line, even when they had highly paid players and early draft picks all around him. He kept that level of play going for a remarkably long period, blowing past blockers and double teams all the while forcing the opposition to account for him on the interior first.

Through it all, Williams etched himself into the conversation as one of the team’s top defensive tackles that have played for the organization.

After his first playoff appearance with the Bills in 2017, Williams came back for one final go ‘round in 2018 to not only be a starter and a high playtime percentage player, but as a leader inside the locker room that head coach Sean McDermott needed badly with a locker room that had young players on the field all over the place.

While it was clear after watching the last two seasons that his dominant days were behind Williams, he still flashed that dominant ability of old every once in a while and helped free up his teammates to make a play in the backfield. His talent, even in the twilight of his career, surely cannot go unnoticed.

Now, the Bills must move forward on the defensive side of the ball and in the leadership roles as the pressure starts to ramp up in 2019 and beyond for actually putting together a winning team. And considering the importance of the three-technique defensive tackle role that Williams played over 65-percent of the time, that spot likely becomes somewhat of a priority for the Bills in the offseason.

However, this all comes secondary to what Williams has meant to the Bills for such a long time. From fifth-round pick to upstart starter, to one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL, to one of the unmistakeable leaders of the locker room, Williams etched his legacy in Bills lore long ago.

And suddenly, a borderline meaningless Week 17 matchup between two non-playoff teams became the complete opposite, with the Bills getting one more chance to send Williams out a winner in his final game playing for the franchise.

Williams will be sorely missed in the locker room above all else, as the leadership he’s provided to the team for the last two seasons in a rebuilding effort has been immeasurable. And when the Bills exit the field for the final time in 2019, you can be sure that Kyle Williams will be one of the last to leave.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia