By Tim Graham
Eric Wood has toiled for the Buffalo Bills. He has slogged through losing seasons. His legs have been mangled in pursuit of success.
He doesn't want all that to be for naught.
Wood, the Bills' veteran center, signed a multiyear contract extension today. Terms of the deal were not yet known, but Wood's intentions were clear.
Wood said, "I would've never forgave myself," had he not re-signed with Buffalo, "especially with the direction we're going and to watch them make the playoffs without me."
The Bills were bad for several seasons before Wood arrived, and they haven't had a winning record since. They've gone 22-42 and not come close to qualifying for the postseason. The Bills' playoff drought is at 13 years and counting.
Wood, however, proved he's not one to back away from a challenge. He would've been entering the final year of his rookie deal and wanted to have an extension signed now to avoid a distraction during the season.
"All along, I knew I wanted to stay here," Wood said. "I'm comfortable here -- not comfortable where you're sitting back and lazy, comfortable where I love working with the guys I'm working with here, and I would never want to leave here."
Wood compared Buffalo to his hometown of Cincinnati, "a blue collar town, down-to-earth people, good food." He said he's always felt welcome.
"People have embraced me since the day I got here," Wood said, "and I don't know if it's my style of play or just that I was relatable, but people have always embraced me. I knew long term that me and my family would feel comfortable here."
The Bills selected Wood 28th overall in 2010 with a pick they acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles in the Jason Peters trade.
Wood has been Buffalo's best offensive lineman when healthy, but he has missed games in each of his four NFL seasons.
Gruesome left leg fractures ended his rookie season after 10 games. His third season lasted only nine games because of a torn right knee ligament. He missed two games last year with a partially torn left knee ligament.
"This organization," Wood said, "has stuck by me through some tough times, some of the toughest times of my life.
"Two major injuries, and I couldn't have been more thankful for how they supported me through those times and how they're still willing to give me a long-term extension even though everyone around me and everyone in the media wants to say that I'm injury prone.
"Hopefully I'll be able to prove that I'm not, and hopefully get some good fortune to come in my favor."
Sacks allowed aren't an official NFL stat, but analytics website ProFootballFocus.com blamed Wood for only two sacks over 23 games the past two seasons.
In that same span, he committed just four penalties -- holding three times and unsportsmanlike conduct once -- for 45 yards.
"We're thrilled to have Eric in the fold for many years to come," Bills President Russ Brandon said. "He embodies everything that we talk about. He's tough. He's aggressive. He's a competitor, and he's a dynamic leader.
"That’s what we're looking to build here in Buffalo."
taggedEric Wood | Russ Brandon