The Bills can spin it any way they choose, but they were asking for problems last week when acquiring Mike Williams from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It seems only a matter of time before the talented wide receiver from Riverside High and Syracuse finds trouble again.
Williams was obtained for a sixth-round pick, which ever-optimistic Bills fans viewed as a bargain for a player of his caliber. The deal does look like a steal ... for the Bucs. They shopped him across the NFL and considered waiving him before dumping the remainder of his six-year, $40.25 million contract.
New Bucs coach Lovie Smith, a respected NFL voice and class act, made it clear that Tampa Bay had no room for players such as Williams. They effectively ridded themselves of a headache and created some cap space in the process. All in all, it was a good move for Tampa Bay.
“There’s a pattern here and it’s disturbing,” Smith told the Tampa Bay Times during the NFL Combine. “No one is bigger than this football team. He has to understand that. Have I been disappointed in Mike Williams? Of course. There’s a standard. We’re just not going to put up with it, no matter who it is.”
Yeah, you say, but he can play.
In fact, his ability has never been the issue.
By now, you have heard about Williams’ act off the field. He’s facing criminal mischief and trespassing charges after knocking a door of his girlfriend’s home off its hinges. The charges could be dropped if he completes an intervention program, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. At times, he’s come off the hinges.
An insurance company accused him of negligence over a kitchen fire in a rented home, where the Times reported police responded to five 911 calls between June and September. That problem appeared to disappear when he wrote a $995,000 check two weeks ago to purchase the house, complete with stripper pole.
Former neighbors in another rented home in suburban Tampa detested him after he threw raging parties into the wee hours in their quiet gated community. One neighbor, John Hagensicker, said Williams’ guests drove across his lawn, broke sprinkler heads, basically trashed the place and was disrespectful.
Hagensicker didn’t return a message left at his home Sunday. In February, the 60-year-old outlined Williams’ behavior in their Sanctuary on Livingston neighborhood while speaking to the Tampa newspaper.
“I despise Mr. Williams,” Hagensicker said at the time. “You live in the Sanctuary, you think about the name, and it’s quiet and peaceful. It’s what we moved there for. … It was shocking to me. He was the absolute worst neighbor anyone can imagine.”
Understand, Hagensicker could be a neighbor who complains about everything and calls the cops on kids who throw balls into his yard. He also could be a friendly man who expected nothing more than common decency and had the backbone to stand up to the rich and infamous.
Who deserves the benefit of the doubt?
Williams is young, single and absurdly wealthy after signing his extension with the Bucs. I’m guessing he’s incredibly immature. His behavior could be filed under Young and Dumb, but it also means accepting the idea that Williams is selfish and reckless and a major risk for the Bills.
He was caught speeding by cameras five times during a six-week period in Tampa. He announced one party, complete with a photo of his rented home and two days before the Bucs’ home opener in 2012, on Facebook. His post suggested that such signature bashes were the norm in Buffalo.
“its going down again just not in Buffalo is in *TAMPA* at my house the biggest house party of the year September 21 again September 21 most flights and hotels is paid by me alot of special guest will be there again September 21 everything is free no catch again yall no me by now no front…”
Ah, well, he correctly spelled “Buffalo” and, let’s
not forget, he can play.
The Bills knew what they were getting into with Williams long before making the trade. Williams’ past was hardly a secret. Most recently, his brother stabbed him in the leg and is facing criminal charges. Overall, his career has been littered with problems going back to his days at Syracuse.
The Bills should have picked up the telephone and asked a few people around Western New York about Williams before trading for him. You don’t need to be an expert in 40-yard dash times and the intricacies of route running to offer advice. You need to have eyes and ears in the community.
Williams for years has been on the radar of the Buffalo police. One veteran officer said Sunday he was stunned the Bills made the deal and predicted Williams wouldn’t reach training camp before finding trouble or trouble finding him. By the sounds of things, Williams is hanging around the wrong people.
But, apparently, the Bills believe a wide receiver who already had a run-in with their coach, who has a lengthy arrest record, who is coming back from a season-ending injury and was stabbed by a sibling, is the answer.
Bills coach Doug Marrone knows Williams, so maybe he can fix him. Then again, how well does Marrone really know Williams? He coached him for less than a full season at Syracuse. Marrone took over in 2009. Williams already was suspended once and was facing another when he left the team.
Williams was kicked off the team or he quit, depending on what you believe. Williams insisted numerous times that he never quit. If you believe him, he was booted. One story suggested that there was a major miscommunication in which Marrone thought the kid quit and the kid thought Marrone booted him.
Either way, it didn’t end well.
I can’t see his tenure ending well in Buffalo, either, but I will say this: Mike Williams has two choices. He can straighten out his act sooner than yesterday, surround himself with good people, stay out of trouble and produce for his hometown team or he can kiss a promising career goodbye.
The Bills made a choice to acquire him. It’s time for him to start making the right choices for them, if not himself.