Micah Hyde knows the feeling. In Green Bay, it was all about being close and sharing a belief that the playoffs were always in the cards. Of course, it didn't hurt to have Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, but there was something else at work on the Packers -- a genuine bond forged from an ever-present confidence that good things would happen more often than not.
"It’s Green Bay," Hyde said. "There’s not much to do but be close with your teammates, so I think that’s what put us over the edge."
On Thursday, Rodgers posted a tweet wishing the safety (his listed position; he plays others) good luck with his new team, the Buffalo Bills. When a reporter mentioned it Friday, Hyde couldn't think of a more perfect example of that bond, that intangible that helped make playing in Green Bay so special.
Teammates that remain teammates, even in spirit. That's what happens with the largest entity in a small town like Green Bay.
"And I’m starting to feel the same thing here," Hyde said.
Whoa. Here, as in Buffalo? As in the home to the NFL club with the longest playoff drought of any professional team in North America?
Hyde was speaking with a straight face, even though 17 years of postseason futility were making his words sound a bit hard to swallow.
But that was the first impression he took from meeting with coach Sean McDermott, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, defensive backs coach Gill Byrd, and others in the coaches' offices at One Bills Drive.
"Talking to the coaching staff, they’re relaying the message down to the players to have that playoff mentality," Hyde said. "We want to win, we want to stick together, we want to be helping each other day in and day out. I definitely feel that coming here."
The proof will be in the playing. For now, no one gets the benefit of the doubt. Not Hyde's intuition. Not the best face McDermott or his assistant coaches can put on the enormous task of turning the Bills into a winner.
Since last Thursday's start to the NFL free-agent signing period, though, the path McDermott is taking to get there has become a little clearer. Tyrod Taylor will still be the quarterback, leading a power-oriented offense whose most impactful player is still LeSean McCoy.
But the defense will have a significantly different look, especially in the secondary. Hyde is a big part of that new look. He will take the safety spot left open by the release of Aaron Williams.
He can also play cornerback, nickel back, return punts, and cover kicks.
"Basically it’s whatever I can do to help the team," Hyde said. "They know I’m a versatile guy and I can do a bunch of different things, whether it’s return, safety, corner, nickel position – or whatever it may be. I’m here to help the football team and I want to win. I know that’s the culture that’s being built around here and I’m definitely looking forward to it."
In his four seasons with the Packers, he has played in 63 career games, with 33 starts. He has made 184 career tackles, with four sacks. He has intercepted eight passes and forced a fumble.
Last season, in 16 games (11 as a starter), he was credited with 58 tackles and a sack. He also had three interceptions and nine passes defensed. Hyde also started in all three of Green Bay's playoff games, registering 14 tackles, a sack and an interception (both against Dallas).
McDermott wanted Hyde for his versatility, the same thing that made him valuable enough for the Packers to keep for four seasons but not to re-sign. The former University of Iowa standout, whom the Packers made a fifth-round draft pick in 2013, calls it a blessing and a curse.
"I may say, or whoever may say, just because it’s a blessing if somebody is hurt, I can play a different position," Hyde said. "But it’s a curse because some people think that I’m not great at one position. Where it started – I’ve done it my whole life. Growing up (in a) small town (Fostoria, Ohio), playing every position on the football field in high school, not coming off the field, and then that kind of translated into college.
"Playing corner and being a returner and then in the league, I’m kind of doing the same thing. It’s not new to me."
Neither is the same feeling of closeness Hyde sensed upon his arrival at One Bills Drive.