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Tashard Choice delivered impassioned locker room speech

By Jay Skurski

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Rarely do four-minute interviews provide as many worthwhile quotes as the one I did with Tashard Choice today.

Choice led a team meeting in the visiting locker room following the Bills’ 45-3 loss to San Francisco on Sunday.

I thought his entire comments were worth reading, so here they are in question-and-answer style.

Q: What was your message to the team?

A: “Just our mindset, it felt like we were lacking our energy. The seriousness, the importance of every game, every snap. I wanted them to realize that. We’ve got to continue to feel that, continue to be the aggressor. How we played, I was really disappointed because I know how hard we work during the week. I know what kind of good players we’ve got.

“Instead of being friends with each other, we need to be more like brothers. Brothers can fight. Brothers tell each other, ‘you gotta pick it up.’ And it’s never against somebody, it’s just to build the team, to make the team better,” he said. “My point to them was we’ve got to play better, we’ve got to come out with more energy and the game of football has to be like you’re just playing it for the first time, where you wanted to make the plays.

“Everybody’s got to have the ‘want to.’ Want to be the player that’s going to change the game, want to be the player that’s going to make the big tackle. If we’ve got 11 guys on the field at all times that have got a lot of that want to, then we’ll be fine because we’ve got the talent.

 “We should never get beat like that with the type of players we’ve got, and everybody understood that.”

Q: How tough was it Sunday in that game? 

A: "I hate losing. I’m a sore loser, man. I am about anything. To lose like that in the last two games … that’s disappointing, and we can’t take that lightly. People write us off, but it’s a long season and we’ve got a good football team."

Q: What was the response from the team?

A: “Let’s go. That had to be said. No more talking, let’s do it.”

Q: How big is this game for the team?

A: “It’s funny, because I’ve been on other teams and we’ve had times like this before. To win a game on the road when everyone’s doubting you, it’s a snowball effect. It can go either way, it can go downhill and your whole season can slip away. But then if somebody makes that big play like I was telling you about, it’s crazy how the effect of that energy can go to the offense, the defense, the special teams. It’s a big game and we’ve got to treat it like it’s the biggest one, which it is.

“We can get back to .500. We can get a chance to get back home in front of our fans and have a chance to go into the bye week above .500, which we want to do. But first we’ve got to get this one, and everybody understands. I love the energy and how we’re playing in practice.”

Q: What made you decide to address the team?

A: “It was on my mind. It was on my heart and I couldn’t hold it. I just asked coach, then told the guys I was going to say something. You earn respect from how you practice and how you play. I’m always trying to make sure guys are lifted up with a lot of energy. Opportunity can come to anybody, and you’ve go to make sure you’re ready to play. If you go into the game and do terrible, guys aren’t going to listen to you because they know you’re not prepared. If you’re going to speak, you got to make sure you perform in practice and the game so guys know you really mean it.”

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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 |