Ed Oliver had to repeat the question before answering.
"What do I think when I hear I’m Kyle Williams’ replacement?” the Buffalo Bills’ new defensive tackle said Friday. “I think Kyle Williams is a great player. I think Kyle Williams will wear a gold jacket one day. I just want to come in and compete and help the team in any way possible. I don't even think about that.
"Kyle Williams is in a league of his own that I haven't even come close to touching.”
Fair or unfair, stepping into Williams’ shoes will be the expectation for Oliver, even if coach Sean McDermott said Thursday night “no one is ever going to replace Kyle Williams. I just want to manage expectations, No. 1, with that.”
Oliver revealed Friday during his introductory press conference that one of the first calls he received after being selected by the Bills was from Williams. On Friday night, the retired defensive tackle explained why he felt compelled to make that call.
"Buffalo, what it is, what it means to me, that organization, those colors. Brandon Beane, Sean McDermott, Leslie Frazier, Bill Teerlnick – I mean, I could go through the list of the coaches and the people that I genuinely care about,” Williams said. “I just wanted him to know what a special place he was walking into. The kind of city he represents, the kind of organization he represents, and the people he's going to work with. I just said, 'Man, if I can help you in any way along the way, don't hesitate to call me. I'm here for you.' "
Oliver joked that he wasn’t quite sure how Williams got his phone number, but quickly made it clear he was more than happy to take the call.
“It’s great. There’s not much more to say about it. He’s a ‘G.O.A.T.’ in his own right,” he said. “Just him taking time out of his day, he didn’t have to do that, so I feel honored.
“I told him, yeah, I want to holler at him. I want to pick his brain a little bit, see what kept him around so long, see if he has anything he can teach me.”
Williams worked as an analyst on NFL Network during coverage of the league’s scouting combine, so he got a chance to study Oliver as a prospect and see him up close. His takeaway?
“Extremely talented guy who plays with a hot motor, which are two things that don't really coincide a lot, you know what I mean? A lot of times you hear about how talented a guy is, but maybe he takes plays off,” Williams said. “I felt like he's a really talented guy who plays hard all the time. The motor he played with, with his talent level, he was going to be a good pick for somebody.”
It just so happened that it was made by the team Williams represented proudly for 13 years. If there was any awkwardness for Williams about discussing the player brought in to replace him, he didn’t make that known Friday.
“He's an extremely athletic, explosive guy. I mean, he's more naturally gifted than I was,” he said. “So I think everybody should be excited about him. I don't think anybody's going to place any expectations on Ed that he doesn't put on himself. ... Just reaching out to him, speaking to him a little bit, I think he's ready to put the work in. He's going to put his boots on, put his nose to the ground, and now it's Ed's responsibility.
“How much can he hone his craft and really tap into the God-given ability that he has? Sean and coach Teerlnick and Leslie Frazier, all those guys, they're good coaches and they're going to get the best out of Ed.”
Williams said one of the things he noticed about Oliver in studying him before and during the combine was the amount of times he lined up at a less-than-ideal position.
“I would have liked to seen him moved around more and tried to find some matchups,” Williams said. “He played in the middle of the line a lot, but he's going to have an opportunity to go do that. He's going to be lining up in a three-technique in Sean's scheme. He's going to be attacking guys, and he's going to get an opportunity to be the disruptive player I think he can be.”
Williams spent the day on the golf course Friday as he settles into retired life in his home state of Louisiana.
Late next month, Williams and partner Greg Berthelot will compete in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, May 24-29 at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Ore.
“I'm coaching a T-ball team and a softball team. I'm doing a lot of that,” he said. “I've got some other things that I'm working on that you guys may see me around, but those aren't finalized yet. ...
"So I've got a few things going on. I'm not very good at sitting around, but it's so far, so good. I'm enjoying it.”