Niagara Gazette

Sports

September 21, 2013

Bills' Super Mario finally feeling at ease

Niagara Gazette — ORCHARD PARK — The foot’s fine. So’s the wrist.

As for Mario Williams’ mental state, the Bills’ high-priced defensive end is finally starting to feel at home in his second year in Buffalo.

Whatever questions that dogged Williams during a headline-filled offseason he set out to answer with one of the most dominating defensive performances in team history. Just don’t ask him if he’s satisfied after earning AFC defensive player of the week honors following a team-record and personal-best 4-1/2 sacks in a 24-23 win over the Carolina Panthers.

“Nah, ‘cause the work’s never done,” Williams said.

And that’s because he can appreciate that the expectations are never lowered for someone who has to live up to the reputation of being “Super Mario” every time he steps on the field.

Williams casts himself as a reluctant star because he realizes what he did Sunday won’t be enough to satisfy his detractors or meet the expectations that come with being a former No. 1 draft pick and the NFL’s first $100 million defensive player.

Fans and broadcasters, including former standout safety Rodney Harrison, were on Williams’ case last year after a wrist injury hampered his production through the first half of the season. It was no different during his first six seasons Houston, where Williams felt he had to play up to someone else’s standard.

“They’ll hate you when you’re doing good, and they’ll laugh at you when you’re doing bad,” Williams said. “I mean, which one is it going to be, you know? Either way it’s negative.”

If he can’t win when it comes to his critics, he’ll settle on having found peace of mind in his eighth NFL season. And that might just have been the most significant development to come out of the game Sunday, when Williams opened up in the locker room, providing a rare glimpse of his emotional state.

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