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Aaron Williams injury: Rex Ryan delivers grim prognosis

The coach suggests that he is worried about the long-term effects of A-Will’s latest neck injury.

From the moment Aaron Williams went down, writhing in pain as the result of a vicious cheap shot by Miami receiver Jarvis Landry, the Buffalo Bills’ fans, players, coaches, and all other associates of the team feared the worst. With regard to spinal injuries, too much caution can never be exercised; “too much caution” is instead the standard protocol. Today, we heard some less-than-encouraging news from head coach Rex Ryan regarding Williams’s prognosis.

Ryan noted that there is long-term concern for Williams, though he did not tie himself down to a timetable for Williams to return. The sixth-year safety out of Texas is unlikely to play this weekend when the Bills take on the Patriots, against whom Williams first hurt his neck in the second week of last season.

Much of the discussion around the latest neck injury has centered on the blatantly unnecessary nature of it, specifically the launching and targeting action Landry took in hitting Williams. The hit was exactly the kind that the NFL says it is attempting to legislate out of the game, but as Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bedard points out in this scathing rebuke, the league is doing a pretty terrible job of actually doing it. NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino, in particular, is singled out for his rambling, bumbling explanation of why the play did not result in an ejection. Blandino noted that, for the officials, “it was tough to read [Landry’s] intent there.” Bedard, Ryan, and multiple Bills’ players found that explanation to be far less than satisfactory.

“Blandino’s babble is ridiculous and preposterous,” Bedard noted, before moving on to call Rex Ryan the “voice of reason” in the situation, with only a hint of irony. Ryan suggested that the NFL should change the rule, making it more like the collegiate system, where a player who is called for targeting is automatically ejected. Landry’s hit would have warranted an ejection and possible suspension in the NCAA, and certainly would have led to a suspension in the NHL, according to a video linked by Bedard in the article.

With John Wawrow reporting that Williams’s father told the AP that his son will determine whether or not to continue playing in the NFL after this season ends, it further illuminates the importance of properly penalizing such illegal actions. Stephon Gilmore said that Williams is experiencing numbness in one of his arms, although neither the team nor Williams’s father would confirm that statement.

For Buffalo to potentially lose one of its top defenders for the season on a play that only lost Miami 15-yards seems absurd. When coupled with the fact that Landry was penalized the same amount for spinning a football like a top as he was for potentially ending another player’s career, it gives credence to an already widely held opinion that the NFL simply has no idea what it’s doing in terms of discipline. While Aaron Williams rests, heals, and contemplates his future, Jarvis Landry will play in Miami’s next game.

Get well, Aaron. They’ll figure it out eventually.