Buffalo Bills safety Aaron Williams isn’t sure he wants to step away from football, but no one would blame him if he did. After suffering season-ending neck injuries in back-to-back seasons, Williams knows it’s a dangerous proposition to head back out onto the field but he’s taking his time to make his decision.
“You gotta go with what your heart's telling you to do,” said Williams the day after Buffalo’s season ended. "It’s like a scale, there are pros and cons [to coming back]. And sometimes you don't want to listen to the cons."
Following his injury, Williams was placed on injured reserve and went back home to Texas to recuperate away from the team as to not cause a distraction. He says his family and close friend Fred Jackson are pushing him to retire.
Williams’ initial injury happened in 2015 against the New England Patriots, when he tackled a receiver and landed awkwardly, hurting his neck and losing feeling in parts of his body. He returned in 2016 only to be sidelined on a vicious and illegal hit from Miami Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry.
"Do I think it was a bit dirty? Yes,” said Williams. “But the man's playing football. Nothing against him."
This weekend, Williams’ father spoke to the Associated Press in the wake of Sean McDermott’s hiring as Bills head coach. Saying his son will make a formal announcement soon, the elder Williams said "He's leaning toward coming back. We'll take it slow and go from there."
Earlier that day, a Twitter post was even more entusiastic:
“Excited about the new HC (head coach) and Aaron coming back to be part of the team that finally brings playoffs and a SB (Super Bowl) to the deserving BLO (Buffalo) fans."
After all those injuries, what would keep the safety coming back to play after consecutive neck surgeries ended his seasons? Williams notes his connection to fans as one of the big draws to returning.
.@ajwilliams23, facing an uncertain future, stops to greet some loyal fans on his way out. This guy gets it. #BillsMafia pic.twitter.com/Rn1wfgVVM7— Toby Motyka (@TobyMotyka) January 2, 2017
"The impact I have on kids and those who tweet me... that's what I want to continue doing,” said Williams before greeting these fans waiting in the driveway at One Bills Drive.