He’s got the proof on his cellphone. For anyone still railing on him for wiping out his teammate, Buffalo Bills safety Bacarri Rambo begs you to look at this photo of himself going for the ball.
Right here, you can see both Rambo and Ronald Darby going for the ball.
On Tuesday, the team’s assistant director of player engagement James Trapp stops by to needle Rambo.
“Why do I have to open my eyes?” Rambo said. “Why can’t he open his?”
“Man! You’re the one coming!” Trapp responded. “He was there! … The first, I didn’t think he was going to get up. You’re worse than Ray Lewis. He used to hit just like that.”
“I didn’t even hit him like that – I’m going for the ball! Look, look!”
Linebackers Preston Brown and Nigel Bradham walk by, laughing. True, Rambo did take out Darby twice in Buffalo’s 41-14 win over the Miami Dolphins, the second hit leaving Darby sprawled on the turf for several moments. Just don’t expect him to change, to dial it back at all. The safety starting in place of the injured Aaron Williams (neck) will play at one relentless, hellbent speed.
Darby was ticked after the game, later texting Rambo that he respects the way he plays.
After all, it was Rambo’s blitz and hit on quarterback Ryan Tannehill that led to Brown’s pick-six.
As long as he’s on the field, piercing hits will be the norm.
“I’m running to the ball,” Rambo said. “I’m not thinking about looking to see who’s over there. If you feel like I’m coming, move out of the way. I don’t care. I’m not trying to hurt anyone or harm anyone but I’m trying to get the ball. I’m trying to make a turnover. I want the feel of the football in my hands.”
On the first collision – a 19-yard completion to DeVante Parker – Rambo flew in with a hard right shoulder after the catch and dinged Darby, who then headed to the sideline. On the second, Rambo blasted into Darby along the sideline on a deep ball to Rishard Matthews. Darby half-joked afterward that “My own teammate tried to destroy me.” He was down for several moments, surrounded by trainers, and later returned.
Rambo is quick to note that he held up on Darby’s interception. Both could’ve picked off Tannehill’s lollipop of a pass at the end of the first half, and Rambo tapped the brakes.
Overall, he wants this mindset to become contagious because the result could be a slew of turnovers. Rambo knew precisely when Tannehill liked to snap the ball so, on the Brown pick, he crept up from 10 yards back, eyed the play clock and sped through the line right as it was snapped to smack Tannehill.
“Everybody’s hungry, man,” Rambo said. “It’s like we’re a bunch of lions and that football is the zebra. We’re all trying to get a piece of it. We all want it. … Things happen. He knows I have mad love for him. He’s like my little brother.”
Linebacker Manny Lawson breaks into a smile when Rambo’s name is brought up.
“He’s very hungry,” Lawson said. “He wants to get to that ball, he wants to make plays. That eagerness, that excitement, I mean, we thrive off of that on defense.”
So be warned: Rambo’s headhunting ways will continue. The country kid feasts on contact. Asked if he had any memorable hits in college at Georgia, Rambo says his “favorite” one came in 2009 when he actually ended up in a hospital.
His team leading Auburn 31-24 with 1 minute and 16 seconds to go, Rambo was in Cover 2, saw Mario Fannin running up the seam and drilled him at the goal line to break up a potential touchdown.
He took the brunt of the hit, however. Rambo was unconscious on the field, motionless, and was carted off on a stretcher. Rambo didn’t even wake up from the concussion until he was coming out of his CT scan at the hospital.
The collision – particularly scary considering what we know about concussions today – somehow never dulled his approach.
“It’s just part of the game,” he said. “Things like that happen. You just have to continue to stay prayed up and ask God to cover you and protect you from all harm and danger. Things happen. It’s football. It’s a very physical sport. So you have to continue to play and take no plays off.”
On Tuesday, Williams appeared in the locker room for the first time since his own scary neck injury in Week 2 but declined to speak. Coach Rex Ryan said he’s still stiff and sore. There’s a good chance the Bills will keep relying on Rambo with Corey Graham at safety.
He’ll be making no apologies, too. Rambo told Darby he blames Tannehill for throwing a “dumb pass” that second hit. Not his fault he plays like a human missile.