News of the Buffalo Bills and George Wilson reaching a contract agreement came fairly quickly yesterday afternoon. Lost in the shuffle were Wilson's comments following the agreement.
First, let's set the tone. The safety was scheduled to go on vacation yesterday night by boarding a long flight to Europe. With the CBA expiring while he was abroad, he needed to get the deal finalized before he left, or he would have been in the free agent limbo many players will experience this summer.
When the contract breakthrough happened, Wilson boarded a flight - not abroad, but to meet with Bills representatives in Buffalo. Wilson didn't even have to leave the airport, as team personnel were there to meet him with the contract. Interviews with Wilson didn't happen until after he returned to Atlanta and was awaiting his international flight. There, he spoke with the Buffalo media.
"It’s been a crazy 12 hours, but this feels great," said Wilson, who turns 30 on March 14. "Now I have another reason to be celebrating."
Wilson's long career arc - from undrafted wide receiver to contributing safety - has not been easy, and he took the opportunity of signing his first long-term contract to reflect.
"I’ve come a long way from being an undrafted rookie to now to get a multi-year deal to reward me for the work that I’ve put in," Wilson told BuffaloBills.com. "It just shows that anything is possible through hard work. And in no way will I relax or have a sense of satisfaction or achievement. Now it’s time for me to go out and show them that I’m worthy of it and that I should be in this position. I’m ecstatic."
While he was "ecstatic" in his interviews with team media, relief was the feeling he continuously expressed in his conversations outside the team.
"I'm excited," said Wilson to the Buffalo News. "This is definitely a relief. Now I have some certainty on the other side of the lockout. I know where I'm going to be after the lockout is over. It gives you a sense of calmness.
"I want to make an impact and help us win games," he added.
In a separate interview with John Wawrow of the Associated Press, Wilson again expressed relief.
"I’m definitely relieved," Wilson told Wawrow by phone. "I have a home here and there was so much uncertainty out there with 500 free agents, it was a matter of both us finding a common ground we’re both comfortable with."
Wilson also discussed the sense of home he feels in Buffalo while describing his upcoming trip to BuffaloBills.com.
"I’m going to Rome, London and Paris," said Wilson from Atlanta’s Hartsfield airport. "It’s something I’ve always wanted to do ever since I was a child. So I wanted to take advantage of the time when I had it.
"I’m just living a dream from a football standpoint," continued Wilson. "It’s just real heartfelt. When I’m leaving Buffalo on the airplane I really felt like I’m leaving home. I find myself missing and thinking about Buffalo even when I’m gone. I think I’ve become a Buffalonian now.
"I’m thankful for the Bills seeing something in me and offering me an opportunity to stay and keep fighting this fight."