Newly acquired Buffalo Bills wide receiver Mike Williams acknowledged Monday he needs to show more maturity to regain success in the NFL.
Williams, the product of Buffalo’s Riverside High School, was unloaded by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Bills last week for a sixth-round draft choice, despite the fact he was a productive player for three straight seasons, from 2010 to 2012.
“Yes, I think I do need to grow up a little bit more,” Williams said upon being introduced as a Bill. “I think with me having a son, it made me realize things a little bit more and how important it is, and what type of future I have for him and my family. A lot of people are depending on me, so you’re right, I do have to grow up.”
Williams, 26, said he has a son in Buffalo who just turned 1-year old.
Williams last month was stabbed in the left thigh in Tampa. His brother, Eric Baylor, was charged with aggravated battery and domestic violence in the incident.
Williams also was approved to enter a pretrial intervention program last week to resolve misdemeanor charges of trespass and criminal mischief. He was accused of knocking a girlfriend’s door off its hinges in December. Last year there were at least five 911 calls to his Tampa-area home. Williams agreed in September to pay more than $50,000 in damages and deposits to the development where he lives. However, a suit filed last week in Tampa by United Property & Casualty Insurance Co., seeks $54,453 for fire damage, plus court costs.
“Two of those stories was actually made up,” Williams said of his Tampa incidents. “They don’t want me to talk about the stories, so I’m not going to get into that. But all cases was dropped.”
“I think one of my big mistakes is really trying to take care of too many people and trying to make too many people happy,” Williams added, “instead of me going out and doing what I have to do first, and then whatever after that.”
If Williams can stay out of trouble off the field, he can fill the Bills’ need for a big, outside receiver. He’s 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds and produced excellent numbers for Tampa in his first three seasons. He played only six games last season due to a torn hamstring muscle.
Williams’ addition also gives the Bills draft flexibility. They now do not have to take a receiver in the first two rounds, unless one they believe is a perfect fit is on the board. Williams is due to make a modest $1.8 million this year. The Bills would have to increase their commitment to keep him in 2015, when he would be due $6.8 million.
Can he stay out of trouble, especially being around so many friends and acquaintances in his hometown?
“I’ve been in the league for five years,” he said. “Even with me being in Tampa, people would try to fly down, get 100 tickets, this and that. I learned how to adjust. One big thing is, I learned how to say no. Me being back home, I’m going to just take it like me being at Syracuse or Riverside.”
Williams reunites with Bills coach Doug Marrone, who took over as Syracuse coach in 2009 and dismissed Williams from the team after seven games that season. A reported curfew violation was involved in the decision. Williams had been suspended for the 2008 season at Syracuse for cheating on a test.
Williams was candid about Marrone’s conversation with him after the Bills made the trade.
“He said to me the other day,” Williams said, “if we were in school, if it was college, he wouldn’t have picked up Mike Williams. But now we don’t got school, that’s his first pick, to pick up Mike Williams. I kind of understood where he was going with it. … He was saying if it was school, he didn’t think I’d have went to class.”
Williams caught 65 passes for 964 yards and 11 TDs as a rookie in 2010. He caught 65 for 771 and three TDs in 2011. He caught 63 for 996 and nine TDs in 2012. Last season he had 22 catches for 216 yards.
He said he is thrilled to play in his home town.
“It feels great,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to get back to see my family. I always grew up a Bills fan. It’s like a dream come true. It’s like waking up and living my dream again. I feel like it’s a fresh start.”