Former Bills center Eric Wood retired because of a neck injury, but he leaves the game having been part of the Bills team that broke the franchise's 17-year playoff drought.
Wood spent his first nine seasons with the Bills without appearing in a postseason game.
"To end the drought and have so much fun doing it and with that group of guys was special and something I’ll always be able to hang my hat on for my career," Wood said on Good Morning Football on the NFL Network this week. " I had nightmares of playing my whole career up in Buffalo and never ending that drought.
"That’s part of the reason I re-signed before the season last year as opposed to trying to hit free agency for the first time in my career was because I couldn’t move on from Buffalo and not end that drought."
Wood lives in Louisville with his wife and two children but said he intends to keep the Eric Wood Fund going in Buffalo.
"We’ve made an impact on a lot of sick children and their families and we’ll keep that going," he said. "We have our suite for Bills games, which I’ll now be able to go and attend and interact with those families through the game. I was never able to do in the past. We’ll do our Christmas program and just a bunch of stuff that brought me joy throughout my career. It will be fun to keep it there and try to create a legacy up in Buffalo."
Wood also again detailed the chronology that led to his retirement, beginning with a stinger in Week 5 against the Bengals.
"I got the first stinger of my life this year in Week 5 against the Bengals and I got another one the following week," he said. "We didn’t think a thing of it. I got an X-ray – it checked out pretty well – I just went on playing.
"I got a bunch more stingers as the year went on, which are common among football players. I mean anybody who’s played high school football has generally had a stinger. After the season, my wife was due with our second child and I said, 'Hey, I’ve got to get out of here. Rush me through my exit physical. Clear me for the Pro Bowl and let’s go.' And they’re like, 'Well, let’s talk about that neck a little bit. How’s it feeling?' I said, 'Well, I got some more stingers but I’m fine.'
"And so they talked me into going to get an MRI on my way out of town. I’m thinking worst-case scenario maybe a surgery or something and then an hour before my son’s born, I get the news in the hospital that my career’s over. At that point you start going, 'hey, reach out for more opinions and we’ll see.' The doctor said, 'Eric, we’ve reached out for a lot of opinions, but you’re welcome to do some research.' We did and ultimately any surgery that would have taken the disc off my spinal cord would have then also made me never able to pass a physical again, which essentially ended my career."
Wood said he is getting antsy with the start of training camp, but understands it is time to move into a new chapter.
"It feels weird scheduling stuff past the middle of July. Usually it’s a shutdown date. July 20th, start prepping, getting ready to drive up to Buffalo and get ready to go for the season. So it’s different. There’s days I feel some anxiety, like, 'Man, I should be doing something. I should be prepping to play ball.' That’s all I worked for for the last 14 or 15 years, but I’m enjoying more time with family. We have two young kids and I'm enjoying this time because at some point I’m going to be working and wish I cherished these days probably a little more."