Without question, Ryan Miller has been the most polarizing sports personality in Buffalo over the last five years. There is a giant magnifying glass focused on everything he says and does while we react as if he's the President of the United States when he raises any sort of controversial point.
In the coming months, that lightning rod for controversy may soon be moving to a different area code, gone forever. But we have an ace in the hole, someone else whose words and actions we can study like he's Brad Pitt and we are TMZ.
That's Mario Williams.
Minifrigdes, speeches after getting manhandled against the Jets, engagement rings, and finally, the possibility of depression mixed in with narcotics. The last year or so for Mario has looked like something out of the National Enquirer. When I listen to Mario speak, I don't really think controversy at all. I see a country boy who seems to be reserved in his thoughts and very soft spoken. However, there are folks trying to take his words out of content and spin them into proof that he's a pussy or a wimp or as Jerry Sullivan says, a drama queen. Yes, because he asked for all of this.
The latest stories are about him being weak or naive enough to spend a shitload of money on a ring to and irresponsibly using painkillers, a huge deal in sports. This is what happens when you are a polarizing figure. Everything's fair game.
Obviously, the latest issue, depression, is something that reminds us once again that players aren't machines. They are humans, just like all of us. Depression is something that shouldn't be joked about and is extremely prevalent in our society. A 2003 article in the NY Times said that, according to the National Comorbidity Study, 16% of Americans (35 million) suffer from depression severe enough to warrant treatment at some time in their lives.
Not to be flippant, but folks who have a problem with Mario's story being talked about are in their own little world of giving passes to athletes. Personally I think only a small percentage of folks feel that way and they are being emphasized by media personalities on Twitter who for whatever reason, want to come out looking like bad-ass reporting martyrs.
As I've maintained since I was 10, I don't care what an athlete does outside of Sundays and would rather have bad boys who can play than choir boys who are feeding the poor and sucking at football. However, when it comes to the mental capacity of a player, well, that goes beyond playing well on Sundays. For me, I want to have some sort of human decency towards the player, allowing him to get his head straight so he can live on. I don't wish depression and infinite sadness on anyone.
Of course, all of this depression talk could be BS and maybe Williams' ex-fiance is just putting on a show to keep her 1-million dollar ring. Maybe Mario was playing the guilt trip game. Folks do desperate things to get the person they love to take them back and guilt trips have been known to work. As for the painkillers, this is professional sports. Mario Williams was battling a wrist injury and recovering from surgery. The team gave him painkillers. Painkillers are used to ward off pain when you have surgery so you can either keep playing or get back to playing sooner.
Brett Favre took 6 of them every day and became addicted to them. Mario took 3 before a Pats game. We don't know what the NFL norm is since no one in the MSM has had the assertiveness to call a doctor who proscribes these or better yet, call a trainer from a collegiate or pro team. But, whatever, we need to talk about drama like it's Jerry Springer without trying to get stern information. "Hey, let's talk about pain killers and the price of glory or better yet, dating tips from Art Wander!"
Bottom line: It sounds like a lot of speculating on whether this is an addiction or just your standard NFL painkilling experience.
Now, was he taking the painkillers because he was depressed and wanted to be drugged up and numb? I don't know, and frankly, it isn't my business. That is something for him and his family to figure out. But at the end of the day, let's not start acting like the guy is the next Brett Favre when it comes to painkillers or the next Junior Seau when it comes to battling severe depression. We have a bunch of texts to go on. There are not many facts on the table.
If I had to guess, I'd say Mario was probably heartbroken/angry and just started saying stuff to make his girlfriend feel bad for him, to get her attention. I've worked on enough reality TV shows to know this happens a lot, whether it is rich or trashy folks. People deal with heartbreak the same way, no matter how much money they have. If this is the case – and Mario has said he'll say anything when he's angry – then this is nothing more than some personal drama. You know what doesn't happen all that often? People suing each other for a million dollar ring. That is why this is all coming out.
Of course, when Mario drama comes up, folks like Jerry Sullivan get on their soapboxes about how there's always a problem with Mario. Yes, mini-fridges, complaining about the officiating after the Jets game (hardly alone there since guys like Aaron Rodgers have done the same), nursing an injury (that required surgery), suddenly playing well after the surgery (duh), these things are all red flags and cause for a police investigation. Yes, I'm stretching the sarcasm a bit.
Sully even made an insensitive remark making fun of Mario's grammar in the texts (8:45 mark) he sent to his ex-fiance. Sully had the audacity to somehow correlate complaining about refs and sending suicidal texts.. Yes, being depressed and complaining about the refs TOTALLY go hand-in-hand. I'd hope to not have Sully handle interventions any time soon.
Look, I have no issues with this being a story. But the commentary about regretting the signing because of this is a little much. If you want to talk about him not meeting expectations because the defense was a tire fire? Fine. However, I'm not about to say, "Well, he's got a bad breakup going on and a he has a minifridge. What a mistake this guy was!"
Forget football, because Mario needs to get his life together IF it is in shambles. Other than that, I'm of the mindset that I can separate him as a player and him as a person. He's got a football job and a personal life. Getting himself in a healthy state of mind should be Mario's goal, and getting the player on the same page is a moot point in all of this.
Now, if this is nothing more than a young and the restless saga, then we need training camp to start sooner rather than later before we get Judge Judy to decide who gets the ring.