There's so much to like about Eric Striker, the Buffalo Bills' new linebacker. From taking on racism at Oklahoma, to his unique take on Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump to the inspiring speech he gave to family on Day 3 of the draft, his personality is through the roof.
Before Striker even set foot on One Bills Drive, a small fan base was growing in Western New York.
And then Striker was asked at rookie minicamp what he knew about Buffalo. His answer sure started innocent enough.
"What I knew about Buffalo is that it's really cold," Striker said. "That's just from the start. And then I saw the '30 for 30' and I'm sure a lot of you reporters are from here and lived here with the whole four times in a row thing. I didn't know about that. That was like, 'Wow.' But that was a great team. To make it four times in a row to the Super Bowl in the NFL... they didn't get the job done in the Super Bowl but that was still a great team. That's what I took from it. A lot of history here. A lot of great players have been through here."
Don't do it, Eric.
Don't... do... it....
"And then, I guess the Buffalo wings? But in my mind, I've tasted a great chicken wing. How much better can it be here?"
The media contingent at his podium collectively gasped in horror with one saying, "Watch it!"
"I don't know!" Striker continued. "I feel like I've had some great chicken wings. I mean, what else can you do to a chicken wing?"
More gasps. This time, louder.
"So what place do I need to go to? Is it Duff's? Duff's is where I need to go? And then I ask for the Buffalo wings? Just the chicken wings? ... I'll come back and tell you what I thought. Like I said, I didn't think a chicken wing could get too much more special. But maybe I'm wrong."
Various restaurant names were tossed out, as was the blue cheese-over-ranch recommendation and one reporter said to get his wings crispy.
"I guess I'm wrong then," Striker conceded. "We might go try them today then."
And when told Duff's was a Bills sponsor, Striker's mind was made up.
"Duff's? OK, we'll do Duff's then."
As Striker explained earlier this week, he's never going to forget his draft-day snub. Despite racking up 46.5 tackles for loss, 23 sacks and 12 pass break-ups over three years as a starter for the Sooners, nobody wanted to use a draft pick on an undersized 5-foot-11, 227-pound linebacker with 4.80 speed. So here's in Buffalo as an undrafted pick-up. On Friday, Striker worked at inside linebacker with second-rounder Reggie Ragland. He could also be a blitzer off the edge.
Starting this weekend, Striker has a chance to prove teams wrong. Potentially, he's a piece Rex Ryan can move throughout his defense.
Striker said "it feels good to prove the doubters wrong." He'll need to again.
"When people say 'you can't, you can't, you can't,' and then you do, then it's 'Why do those people say that?'" Striker said. "Maybe it's something in them that makes them think that I can't do it. But it's all about heart. The biggest guy on the field has to have heart. It felt good in high school and good in college to be successful on the field.
"My heart drives me more than anything."
Striker has never even heard of London Fletcher or Sam Mills, two undersized linebackers who found ways to carve long, successful NFL careers. He promised he'd do his research.
The one running the defense, Ryan, sounded optimistic about Striker's chances.
"When we saw him on tape," Ryan said, "that's what we loved about him. He made plays. I don't care what he was doing --- that dude was making plays. So that's what you look at. We'll see how he develops but a special teams role and doing things like that, that's not out of the question."
First thing's first, of course.
He'll need to realize there's a major, major difference between chicken wings and chicken wings.
"We have to fix that," Ryan said. "And don't be ordering boneless wings. Not here in Buffalo. We have to break him in."