Mario Williams will be lucky to hear a couple cheers mixed in with the inevitable boos that will cascade down the seats of Reliant Stadium this Sunday. The former Texan and 1st overall pick voiced that it wasn’t a question of loyalty when he made the move to Buffalo. Coming off of a short season due to a pectoral muscle tear, Williams was looking for the big contract he thought he deserved for 2013 and beyond. The ownership saw a team that had major success despite losing key players and wanted the cap space cleared to reward the ones that stepped up and to obtain new pieces to the Super Bowl puzzle.
Who could blame either one of them?
Mario Williams isn’t exactly Reggie White. He was an incredibly highly-touted player coming out of college, enough to earn him the 1st overall pick. Williams is just one of ten defensive 1st overall picks since 1975, and was picked over Reggie Bush (2nd) another highly-touted college player. The 2006 Draft Class included some serious names, such as, Vince Young, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, AJ Hawk, Vernon Davis, Cutler, Ngata, Greenway, Cromartie, Jonathan Joseph, D’Angelo Williams, Mercedes Lewis, Greg Jennings, and this list goes on. Needless to say the number 1 from the 2006 draft better have produced, and Mario Williams did…Well sort of.
The Texans fans only needed to hold their breath through his rookie season (4.5 sacks, 35 solo tackles, 1 forced fumble) to get their money’s worth ($9 Milion a season) in 2007 when he recorded 14 sacks. As far as the Bust-Boss scale goes, I’d call Williams a Vice President of rookies. He continued to produce into last season where he even recorded 5.0 sacks in 5 games started before getting injured. Williams also holds the franchise records with his 14 sack 2007 being the Texans’ highest single season record, 53 career sacks, and 11 forced fumbles. Now that might not seem like much to a franchise that came out while I was still old enough to drive a car (man I’m getting old), but that is still a decade, more than the average career length of a defensive end. Not only was he producing, he was known as a hard-working great teammate. On top of all of that Williams has the rare trait of being marketable. He is well-spoken and outgoing, and could easily be plastered on the face of whatever product you wanted to hock.
So when he went to negotiate his contract he was expecting the big money that defensive ends should get paid, especially big time game changers and record holders. The Texan’s were having none of it. The financial issues in Houston were dire, even beyond Williams’ contract, and despite a playoff bound season using a duct tape team. Williams expected diamonds, was handed coal, and also a figurative “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
In my mind, you could pick any one of Adele’s songs to play in the background. Nevermind, Mario found someone like you Texans. The Bills posted the most lucrative contract for a defensive player in NFL history for Williams. A six-year contract worth $91 million plus, $50 million of which is guaranteed. Not sure if his 3.5 sacks live up to that pay check so far this season, but Buffalo fans couldn’t be more appreciative of big time playmaking defensive ends. The rabid fans at Ralph Wilson know the importance of his position as he follows in the big footsteps of Bruce Smith and Phil Hansen. I’m not aware of any other stadium where you’ll hear an equal roar for a sack and a touchdown. Unlike the Texans, Buffalo aren’t as close to a Super Bowl contender with a soprano-singing Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, but maybe in the near future it will be Lindell wide right.
After giving Houston what he did, I’m sure there is a bad taste in Williams’ mouth. However, despite what he may think of the Texans, they are having a great season without him, much like the latter half of last season sans Mario. It’s sort of like when you have a bad break up and you hope that your ex ends up with someone fat and ugly. Unfortunately for Mario, the Texans will be running into him on Sunday arm and arm with a strapping, and handsome Watt-Smith combo, and 6-1 record. I’m sure Texans quarterback Matt Schaub will be the first to see if there is any bad blood. No hard feelings.