When was the last time you thought about Mario Williams?
Since Footgate ended in late July, he's kind of been an afterthought for most Bills fans. This is the first 100-million dollar player in Buffalo sports history, the guy who swept across Buffalo in March of 2012 like he was the president riding in on a motorcade, putting the restaurant Tempo on the map.
Over the last 6 weeks, it has been all about the QBs, injuries, the battle for the 5th WR spot, and Stephon Gilmore's injury. In a reversal of fortune from last year, the conversation around Mario has been a lot of zzzzzzzzzz's so far. The sex appeal he had last year at this time is long gone. Unless he's getting a fake rent-a-cop license or suing over an engagement ring, no one is making a peep about him.
As most of you folks know, I've been mostly on Mario Williams' side through his turbulent 17 months here. I won't regurgitate all of the irrelevant shit that the "GET OFF MY LAWN" crowd has pointed to over and over. You know I don't give a shit about that stuff. It is the on the field stuff that I care about more. In that regard, Mario's first season here left a lot to be desired.
Cliche or not, Super Mario went through a few peaks and a lot of valleys during his freshman year in Buffalo. 3.5 sacks during his first 7 games, 7 sacks in his next 6 games, followed by 0 for 3 in his final three games. Mario being streaky? Mario's wrist injury? Dave Wannstedt designing Division III defenses?
I think all three played a part. Still, this isn't what I envisioned when Buffalo stopped operating for two days for the courting of Mario in March of 2012. The Mario Party was supposed to be just the beginning. Instead, the cops crashed it and now we are playing the role of under-aged kids who can't get beer, let alone an invitation to a party. Mario was supposed to be our real hope for stability for this franchise. I wrote at the start of last season that Mario was Buffalo's next get rich quick scheme when it came to creating hope. I drew up some sort of Dark Knight parallel with Mario Williams ending up either a hero to the city or Two-Face.
"So, do you believe that Mario Williams is the idea of Harvey Dent, a hero who will bring us hope and peace? Or is he the illusion of Harvey Dent, a happy distraction until losing comes knocking on our door and takes our football team? Or in the end, will Mario Williams end up being Batman, saving Gotham the franchise while taking the team to 11-5? To me that's why this year may end up being the most important in team history. Football spirits have been fooled before, but this is the biggest knight in shining armor they have had in a long time, and another bad year might finally break them. There's only so many times you can believe in the Harvey Dents of the world."
Pretty deep and totally forgotten, wouldn't you say? That's what happens when fans are desperate for hope and left disappointed, only to then have the Bills resemble a snake oil salesman yet again. Now the hope lies with Doug Whaley, Doug Marrone, CJ Spiller, and EJ Manuel. Mario Williams seems to have taken a back burner to the new kids on the block. Those 10-6 predictions from last year feel like they were 106 years ago.
That's why this season is do or die for him. The honeymoon is over because he's been replaced as the brass ring for fans to grab onto. He actually has to overproduce on the field and make a big impact for his story to end happily. And I'm not talking 10.5 sacks. I'm talking 14 sacks and the defense being much improved. Mario needs to be a better all-around player. He has to help support the run more and make his teammates better.
The Bills are a business, and a rebuilding business at that. If the Bills finish say, 4-12 and are leap years away from really getting to the playoffs, why would they keep him? Why would they keep a guy who is close to 30-years-old and costing the team 12 million bucks next year?
You don't keep a guy at 12 million dollars based on a 4-12 season. That is buyer's remorse in the NFL. Nnamdi Asomugha signed a lucrative deal with the Eagles 2 years ago and he only lasted two seasons. Besides his inconsistent play, the main reason he got cut was because the Eagles were going in a new direction. Contending for a Super Bowl was not a reality for the time being.
Whether you are or aren't on Mario's side when it comes to the TMZ-style coverage he's been getting from MSM, he needs to perform better than last year. It isn't personal for me, Mario. It is strictly football business. You have to produce this year and live up to at least 75% of the hype from last year.
If he does not, Mario Williams will lay at rest next to the likes of Drew Bledsoe and Terrell Owens in the great Buffalo hype stories that failed.