Retiring from any profession can be a difficult process. While some people eagerly walk away from their profession and leap into retirement with glee, others struggle to detach from their identity as a working professional.
However, adjusting to retirement usually happens when a person enters their “golden years”.
It can be a daunting task when you’re 27 years old and forced into retirement after spending your entire life training to be a productive player in the NFL, as was the case for former safety Aaron Williams. It’s not natural for someone so young to suddenly have to revamp their entire identity, but that is exactly what Williams had to do after suffering head and neck injuries thwarting his chosen path in life.
Not surprisingly, after a year waiting for a team to give him another chance, Williams announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday.
What was surprising was his message to BillsMafia via the Players Tribune. Aaron showed remarkable courage and maturity with his message of gratitude for the life lessons he learned while living in Buffalo.
It’s rare for anyone to show the kind of courage Williams did with his ‘apology’ to BillsMafia, taking accountability for screwing around his first couple of years in the NFL.
He put his money where his ‘mouth’ was when he admitted he wasn’t serious enough about what really matters in life – being the best person and player he could be – a role model and mentor for the next generation.
What are some of the lessons we can learn from Aaron Williams and his poignant message?
- Accomplishments or material things mean nothing without developing a sense of authenticity.
- Grace under pressure reveals a kind character.
- Raising children with a strong moral compass is a testimony to good parenting.
- Goodness comes when you open your heart and let love in.
I knew Aaron Williams was special the moment Kiki Searcy introduced us at her husband Da’Norris’ birthday party in Buffalo back in the day. Blessed with the opportunity to be a support person for Kiki as she tackled graduate school at Canisius College, I was invited to the party because I was in town for a game.
In true BillsMafia fashion, I stayed completely in the background because I didn’t want to be a dorky fan, but couldn’t help but be amazed at the athletes and their families I saw around the room. Listening to the sounds of camaraderie, I just soaked it all in, feeling happy no one saw my presence as an intrusion.
However, one person not only noticed but made a point to thank me for helping Kiki take on the daunting challenge of graduate school. Yep. Aaron Williams. He looked me straight in the eye as if we were two old souls speaking without words. I felt Williams’ sincerity and appreciated how unusual a connection it was, however brief.
Authentic people reveal themselves with their actions and their words.
Aaron Williams made a point to recognize the quiet little old lady in the room who was trying to be inconspicuous. He recognized and appreciated my tiny contribution to the cause of helping out the team by supporting a family member. I’ll never forget that moment and it always brings a smile to my face.
We are blessed as a FAMbase in so many ways, not the least of which is being proud of our Buffalo Bills players who exemplify the kind of character we hope to emulate.
On behalf of myself and all of BillsMafia, ‘back atcha’, Aaron. You are FAM.
Editor’s babble: Dinner is on us next time you’re in Wyoming, Aaron. We proudly serve Texas beef :) I’m on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO. Thanks to everyone supporting our #BillsMafia blog.