Monday was supposed to be a day filled with tears and memories as Buffalo Bills center Eric Wood announced he couldn’t play football anymore after being diagnosed with a neck injury. He would surely tell us what the medical problem was and answer question and get the send off he deserved.
Instead we got a 90-second statement during a press conference that was delayed for 50 minutes before Wood left the stage. Now details are beginning to emerge as to why the press conference was a dud.
“Center Eric Wood’s retirement is on hold over questions about whether the Buffalo Bills can ask him to return a portion of the contract bonus he received for signing a two-year extension in August, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press,” reports John Wawrow. Wawrow notes this is why Wood did not announce his retirement.
Wood received a $6.5 million signing bonus in 2017 as part of the new contract. He has $4 million remaining in pro-rated signing bonus money that seems to be at the core of the argument.
The Bills rolled over their 2017 salary cap space and can’t release Wood until the new league year starts in March, but that wouldn’t prohibit them from wishing him well today. That’s paperwork. Well, it’s paperwork as long as they were still planning on letting him keep the money. If they were going after it, it’s likely Wood would not be happy.
Making matters worse is the team and player have known about this for weeks. Wood was diagnosed with the neck injury at his year-end physical. According to Wood, he found out on January 18th hours before his son was born. That means the two sides had 11 days to figure out the particulars before putting on a dumpster fire of a press conference attended by media, friends, and current and former teammates who flew in from around the country for the event. Kyle Williams found out the next day, January 12th.
This is just the beginning of this story.