‘It was hard to focus, but I would have played'

I STILL CAN'T believe the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. My teammates and I have Tuesdays off. But when the first plane hit the World Trade Center, I was heading over to the Bills' facility to work out because I like to lift on Tuesdays. I came in, got on the tread mill and strength and conditioning coordinator Rusty Jones and conditioning assistant Rich Gray were already in there and they were already watching the media coverage.

 So I saw the first hole in the tower and it was burning uncontrollably. Then I saw the second plane and just thought, "Wow!" It was like the movies. It was crazy. I was shocked.

I didn't know anyone in the airplanes or in the buildings and I haven't heard if my teammates knew anyone in them either. I have cousins in Brooklyn, but I don't think any of them were in Manhattan that day.

People ask me how hard would it have been for my teammates and I to concentrate on playing the Dolphins after that destruction, and to be honest, I can't really give a standard, uniform answer for all 53 guys in here. I would say that the majority wasn't thinking about football at that point. I think that if we would have had a vote on this team, the majority probably would have said, "Let's take the week off." Forget about it. Football is important, but it's not that important. Life is more important than this. We all thought it was crazy.

PERSONALLY, I THINK I could have played. Not to sound cold, but this is my job. If the commissioner would have come in and told me that we have to go out there and play, I would have gone in, studied film and do whatever I had to do to get ready to play Miami. Fortunately, it didn't happen like that.

But again, this is how I make my living. If we would have played last week, I would have been focused on the game. I mean you have to be focused on the game – I'm not trying to go out there and get embarrassed, but with the situation there in New York City, Washington and near Pittsburgh, and then all the rumors that surrounded it, sure, it was kind of hard to focus. When it happened, that was something. Who would have thought in a million years that would have happened?

SO WE WORKED on Wednesday, Sept. 12 through Friday Sept. 14 – our standard times – but the TV was on all the time. It's still on in the players' lounge and we go in there and watch it any chance we get. It's on the same channel – "America under attack." That's all they're showing so people are still watching it. Now we hear that the U.S. is really going after Osama Bin Laden. It's unbelievable.

With my two kids, I didn't really try to shelter them. My oldest, Antoine Jr. is 3-years-old and he kind of knows everything. He's like a little grown man. He watches it and he saw the plane crash. He understands what happened, but he doesn't know that people got hurt, or the politics behind the crashes.

My mom, who lives in Ohio, called us and at first, hearing that something happened in New York – not realizing that it was New York City – she thought we were in danger here in Buffalo. I called home, and she heard my voice, and she was OK.

GETTING BACK TO football, I haven't written about what's been going on here since the beginning of training camp. The first game vs. the Saints was a tale of two halves. During the first half, we looked good. Everything was clicking. We didn't score as many points as we would have like during the first two quarters. But the second half, it was all bad. They got a couple turnovers. They were deep in our territory. We wanted us to go out and create some turnovers ourselves or hold them to three points, but we just didn't do that. I had a chance at an interception. I think Keion did. But when they went up by 11, and their offense was working and our offense wasn't, they could protect the ball and time ran out on us.

What was the difference in the Saints game? I don't know if it was necessarily because the Saints started to spread our defensive formations out. Our defense was on the field a long time during the second half. I think they wore us out. And Ricky Williams started running the ball well and he found a few holes and he made a few plays. It happens. They got some turnovers and they capitalized.

THE OTHER BIG THING that happened around here since I last wrote was Henry Jones being cut. I was astonished. I heard it on the news. Yeah, players all understand that this is a business – and we've basically come to accept that – but I think the administration should have let him know a little sooner. Instead, they just surprisingly cut him and we really don't have a concrete reason why they cut him. They didn't say he wasn't physical enough, or that he was making too much money. I really don't know. They didn't say anything.

Current players aren't criticizing the new administration for its communication with players. But, like any new management in a company, it always takes time for people to become attached. We really don't know them yet. I think Ted Cottrell, or Wade Phillips, or John Butler would have dealt with the situation a little differently.


Buffalo Football Report Top Stories