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An open letter to Mario Williams, from a Buffalo Bills fan

Dear Mario Williams,

Hello there. You don't know me, but I've been a Bills fan for most of my life, and I was a fan of yours even before you joined the team. I've always thought very highly of you, and I was as excited as anybody when you signed with the Bills around this time four years ago. I remember sitting at my desk at work for most of those three days of negotiations, constantly refreshing Twitter to see if a deal had been reported (hoping my boss wouldn't walk by), and when I saw Adam Schefter say it was more or less done, a huge smile broke across my face for the rest of the day. It was really a proud moment, knowing a great player wanted to play for the Bills despite the years of losing and mediocrity.

It was also really nice to hear you say good things about the city of Buffalo. Although I moved away a few years ago for various reasons (I actually live out by your alma mater, NC State), Buffalo is always going to be home to me, and it's always going to be bitter hearing players say they don't want to go to the Bills because "it's cold," or there aren't that many clubs, or whatever other flaw they can find about the area. Yes, there are many; we know that, but you bought in to the charm. It was nice to hear you say it reminded you of home.

Of course, it goes without saying that you were a great player for three seasons, no matter what a certain area sportswriter says. The fact that you're fifth all-time in sacks in Bills history speaks to that, especially since the guys around you all played a few extra seasons in the red, white, and blue than you did. You had a monster contract, and for three years, you earned every penny.

But then, last season...oh boy, last season. Yes, there was a lot of hype, and yes, we all bought in, and were relatively-to-extremely disappointed. Things didn't work out as planned, and if you're frustrated with that, it's understandable. Hell, it's expected. Nobody on that team should be happy with 8-8.

I didn't even really have a problem with you saying that you weren't happy with the way you were being used. It's probably something that should have stayed out of the media, but whatever. You know your skill set better than anybody, and if you felt the coaching staff wasn't using it in the right way, that, too, is understandable.

There is, however, a line. If you're not happy, that's fine. If you want out, that's also fine. If you're going to take up a roster spot and not give 100 percent on the field?

That's not fine.

If you're going to admit to the media that you took last season off?

That's even worse.

Right there, in black and white, you admitted that you weren't giving your full effort last season, for whatever reason. Anybody who watched the bulk of the Bills' 2015 season knew that, of course, but for you to say it out loud it is just something else entirely.

It's like when Billy Joe Hobert admitted that he didn't read the playbook when he was the starting quarterback. Actually, I'd say it's a little worse, because Hobert had the decency to admit it early on so the Bills could dump him. You took up a roster spot for a full season, a roster spot that could have gone to somebody who would have earned his paycheck. That player probably wouldn't have been very good, but still, I'd rather see the Bills lose with effort than, well, lose with no effort.

And what does that say to your new team? Miami's bringing in a rookie head coach, Adam Gase, and a first-time defensive coordinator in Vance Joseph. What happens when they ask you to cover someone? Are you going to tank it for them, too? Are you going to make Miami fans wish they had drastically overpaid Olivier Vernon instead of taking the cheaper route?

Of course, it seems like the second year on your deal is a team option (I could be wrong, but let's assume I'm not). I wouldn't be surprised if they forced that in there, knowing that if your effort were to ebb and flow for another season, they could dump you with minimal to no effect on their cap next year. It kind of forces you to at least pretend that you care. Maybe the Dolphins are smarter than they're letting on.

You know, I'm not really mad at you. I'm just disappointed. You have physical gifts that only last for so long, and you admittedly threw a significant portion of it away like a petulant child. So many others have, as well, and usually do so in a much worse fashion than you did; it's still always sad to see. It was so much more disappointing with you because you had been so good, and then just stopped because things didn't go your way.

Rex Ryan didn't deliver last season, either, as you had no trouble repeatedly pointing out, but his failures weren't from a lack of trying.

Anyway, I'm done. Best of luck to you in Miami (and anywhere else you may end up).


Jeff Hunter