Eric Wood revealed Friday that he was diagnosed with a neck injury as part of his season-ending physical with the Buffalo Bills. Physicians informed the nine-year veteran center that he would no longer be cleared to play football, even with surgery and treatment. Monday, Wood is scheduled to hold a news conference during which he's expected to announce his retirement from the game. Kyle Williams, the Bills' 12-year veteran defensive tackle, was one of Wood's closest friends on the team. He shared the following account of the time they spent together as teammates and friends.
By Kyle Williams as told to Vic Carucci
At the end of the day, when you try to put everything in perspective and look at the big picture, you're happy for Eric that it wasn't worse with the seriousness of it being his neck and the injury. At the same time, you're saying it as a teammate and an organization and, especially, a friend.
I think Eric was a guy that, more than anything, was always a positive fixture in the locker room. Whether it was rocky seas or smooth sailing, you're coming off a bad game, a good game, he was always a guy that kept everybody positive, kept everybody's arrow pointed in that direction. You never got the "poor me." He was always upbeat, which was awesome. It was fun to watch and it was fun to be his teammate.
Lining up where we have, with Eric at center and me at defensive tackle, we understand what it takes. Physically. Mentally. We understand the toll that it takes. We just know how hard it is in there.
There's never a play off in there. You're getting beat on every single play, sometimes by two guys. You're just getting after it with the biggest, strongest, most powerful people around. And I think you form a respect for people that you see do it at a high level and do it year after year after year after year.
Obviously, you're spending that much time with somebody, nine years, you form a special kind of friendship. You go on dinner dates with your wives together. You start building families together and having kids. You start bonding as guys over football, at first, and then it kind of morphs into bonding over family and experiences like that. That's when deep relationships kind of take hold.
Eric and I spent more time together just hanging out and talking. We always play golf together during the offseason program. That'll definitely be something that we'll miss, but I'm sure that we'll still get plenty of rounds in.
You're talking about a passionate guy, an extremely competitive guy, a guy that loved his teammates. And then, when he went out and played, he gave his all. He really got after it. The injuries that he's had and how he's bounced back from them has been amazing. He breaks his leg last year and plays all the plays on offense this year. Doesn't miss a play.
This year, when Sean McDermott had us all get up and talk about our "why" – why we do things – I had a list of things. I kind of categorized things and then, as I was talking about them, I came to my teammates and my friends. I listed a few guys over the years and a few guys in the room, and Eric was one of those guys. I said, "To watch you come back from a broken leg early in your career, to come back from it now, to come back better and stronger and to persevere, I admire that, I respect that, I look up to that. And that gives me reason to compete and play."
To be honest with you, I don't know any of the particulars of Eric's situation at the moment. He just reached out awhile back and said, "Hey, this is what's going on and in 10 days, on this Monday, I'll explain more about it and talk more about it at the podium at that time. And if you can be there, I'd love for you to be there." I'm like, "Absolutely, I'll be there."
I love the guy. I have so much respect for him, how tough he is, the way he played, but more than anything, the guy he is – how great he was to his teammates and outside the building. That's why it's so hard to see what he's had to go through now.