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Mario Williams on leaving Houston: 'I had no other choice'

By Tim Graham

WilliamsMMugMario Williams has Matt Schaub in the crosshairs.

"If I get a chance to hit Matt, I'm definitely going to," Williams said today in the Buffalo Bills' locker room. "It's going down, for sure.

"At the end of the day, you don't want to go out there and hurt anybody. We're all friends."

Williams will return to Reliant Stadium, where he spent the first six years of his career, to play the Houston Texans on Sunday.

The Texans have been tossing bouquets at Williams this week. Today was Williams' turn to heap praise on his former coaches and teammates.

Of the Texans' AFC-best 6-1 record, Williams said he has "mad love for them" and that "I hope they do great" because they're "brothers that you played with for a long time."

But he stopped short at expressing any kind of appreciation to Houston's front office because of a perceived indifference to re-signing him. Buffalo eventually made him the NFL's richest defensive player.

Williams never specifically said he would have preferred to remain with Houston when his contract was up after last season, but his words strongly suggested it.

Williams, when asked about his departure, made sure to mention it wasn't his call.

"Everybody looks at it as you just up and leave," Williams said. "But you don't know the fact of basically being told 'We're not giving you anything as far as an offer or anything like that.' So your hands are tied in that aspect. Everybody else looks at it like you just went in free agency and left. Obviously, there was plenty of time for things done that wasn't done.

"That's fine with me. I just wish everybody else who runs their mouth and says this or that knew the whole story about it before making a decision about me just abandoning fans and the team and everything else like that because that's not my role. I'm not that type of guy.

"I'm here, and I'm ecstatic about it. We made the best of it. But there was never an offer from the general manager [Rick Smith]. It was a one-way door that was opened."

The Texans had several difficult decisions to make to get under the salary cap. They released popular right tackle Eric Winston to slash payroll. Any offer the Texans could have afforded to make Williams likely would have been construed as an insult.

Williams was asked if he would have preferred to stay with Houston, but didn't give a definitive answer.

"At the end of the day, it's almost like saying ... You don't know what's happening after the fact," Williams said. "None of this ... I wouldn't even have been in a position to hit free agency.

"Fans that saw me said, 'Don't leave.' I said 'I don't want to leave.' That's just how it is. Nothing against if I'm here or anywhere else. This is even prior to [free agency]. I never said I wanted out.

"I'm sure everybody's going to twist it up and say 'Oh, well, he didn't want to come here,' so on and so forth. That's not what I said. Like I said, I never asked [to leave Houston]. I was basically given a door in a quiet manner. I had no other choice."

Texans owner Bob McNair publicly said he wanted to keep Williams on the team, but Williams claimed that never getting an offer revealed the Texans' true feelings.

"People are going to believe what they hear," Williams said. "I don't have a say in that. There was never an offer made.

"I know the coaching staff was very high on me. I was very high on them, obviously. We had six years together. We came in together. But at the end of the day, the general manager makes the decisions.

"At the end of the day, I can't do anything about it. When the cards are dealt, you've got to play them. That's what I did. I'm here now. I'm grateful."

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |