Read what Eric Wood, Brandon Beane, and Sean McDermott all said Monday

January 29, 2018

Here are the complete transcripts of center Eric Wood, head coach Sean McDermott, and GM Brandon Beane following Wood's press conference Monday at One Bills Drive:

Center Eric Wood

Statement: Sorry for the delay, and thank you to everyone who came out today. This press conference was set up a couple of weeks ago in light of me finding out about the injury an hour before my son, Garrett, was born. As many of you already know, given the leak on Friday, Dr. [Andrew] Cappuccino has informed me that I will no longer be able to play football given the neck injury. Even with further treatment, rehab or surgery, a return is not possible. In week five, I got the first stinger of my life and I got one the following week. After that game, we did an x-ray on my neck that showed no significant damage. After the season, as part of the exit physical, we got an MRI that revealed a disc that was dangerously close to my spinal cord at C2-C3, and that was alarming. As you can imagine, this news floored me as I was merely days away from the first playoff game of my career. Although I will no longer be cleared to play football, I am still on the Bills’ roster and look forward to helping out the team in some capacity. Thanks to everyone who supported me throughout my career and because of that, I am here today. I’m sure there are a lot of unanswered questions, and I hope to address those at a later date. Thanks, and go Bills.

Head Coach Sean McDermott

Q: Football aside, Eric Wood is a phenomenal person. How does this affect you just person-to-person, not necessarily player-to-coach?
A: Yeah, it was unfortunate obviously. We had some good momentum as we finished the season there and this goes well beyond the game. First of all, I was taken aback by it a little bit just because of the situation, but the good in all of this is that Eric can go on and spend a lot of time with his new family [and] enjoy the rest of his life the way he should be able to.
Q: He spent his whole career here in Buffalo and is finally able to reach the playoffs for the first time in what ended up being his last season. That has to make you feel a little good.
A: Oh it does. It makes me feel job for Eric, his family, and the rest of his teammates. It really does. I’ll never forget the look on Eric’s face. You have still memories that stay with you for a long time and that’s one of them that I remember distinctly, when Eric came off the field from the coin-toss and the look in his eyes that he was in a situation he hadn’t been in before and he was excited for the opportunity.
Q: What’s your understanding of the kind of settlement talks that are going on right now with him staying on the roster and how that’s all evolving right now because clearly, it still is?
A: Today is Eric’s day. I’m not going to get into all of that. Today is Eric’s day. It’s a day to celebrate Eric and his career and what he’s brought to this football team and our community.
Q: From your standpoint, obviously, you feel his career is over. Have you got a sense from him whether he thinks it’s over or not?
A: Well, that’s the impression that I’ve gotten. That’s why we’re having this ceremony today in Eric’s honor and to celebrate a great career.
Q: Going forward, you’ll start to look to replace Eric on the roster. Is it – I mean, [Ryan] Groy seems to be the guy that you would immediately appoint to, but is that something you’ll address in the Draft [or] free agency? Have you started to look at that?
A: [That’s] for another time. Again, I just want to really focus on Eric and celebrating his career today.
Q: Can you quantify, Coach, just the respect and leadership value that Eric Wood brought to this roster?
A: Eric’s a young man that I knew, of him, before I arrived in Buffalo. He’s well respected around the league and my impression of Eric did not change over the last twelve months, if you will, give or take here. His leadership on the field and in the community is just tremendous.
Q: How challenging of a void will that be to fill going forward [in regards to] the leadership, respect value, all of that?
A: Yeah, that’s certainly something we have to keep our eye on, collectively Brandon [Beane], myself [and] our staffs, to make sure we’ve got enough leadership on this football team. That is something, as you build a team, as you build a roster year to year that you want to make sure you’ve got enough of the player-driven leadership.
Q: Sean, you mentioned [that] today’s Eric’s day. Did you sort of maybe envision that it – or how unfortunate is it, I guess, that it had to be just a statement? I imagine that you thought it might’ve been a little bit bigger than just two minutes like that?
A: Well, you know that’s what it was and I’m just – like I said, this is Eric’s day. It’s Eric’s decision and I’m going to support him any way that I can. That’s what I do with my players and I’m, again, happy for him, happy for his family and what a great career that he was able to have. The best part of it for me was [that] it was all in one spot. Not a lot of players are able to say that at the end of a career and Eric, in this case, is able to say that.
Q: Sean, he mentioned that he would like to have a role with this team moving forward. Have there been any discussions on what that could look like?
A: Yeah, I don’t really get involved in those discussions very often. Those are conversations for another time.
Q: Sean, was he limited at all with this injury during the season?
A: No.
Q: I know the news was leaked on Friday. Did the other players find out the same time that we did or did they have some prior knowledge?
A: To my knowledge, it was all about the same time. Things happen somewhat fast coming down after the season and Eric did his due diligence to make sure he had enough of the opinions and what not to make his decisions the way he did.
Q: When did you find out, Sean?
A: I think it was, obviously, after the season and the following days and weeks as Eric went through his process and along with the docs.

General Manager Brandon Beane
Q: Is there an issue on [Eric Wood’s] status with the team?
A: We’re really focused on – I’m not getting into all that. We’re totally focused on this day for Eric and his family and his friends. [There were a] lot of ex-players here. It was neat support for him and that’s really all this day should be about.
Q: He mentioned that there would be a lot of questions. After this statement, I feel like a lot of people are going to have those. Is there any sort of clarity you can provide to this situation?
A: No, it’s tough. There’s all sorts of things when you’re doing roster management and all that so he’ll stay on the roster for now and we’ll figure out what’s the best tactic for the Buffalo Bills as we move forward but, really, we’re a long way away from figuring out where we’re going.
Q: Does there remain any chance he could still play?
A: You know, to be honest with you, I don’t believe so but that’s – again, we’re just really trying to, with the news, it happened fast for him and for us too. We’re all still soaking it in and trying to make the best decisions.
Q: Obviously, a lengthy delay. It was my understanding there was a lot of discussion going on as to precisely how to handle this [between] wording, just a statement and no questions; that sort of thing. Can you give us the best explanation you can on where things stand on that front?
A: Well, I think they were just a little bit late getting in here, to be honest with you. I know he had a phone call to make with his agent and I don’t know what was discussed.
Q: How much contact did you have with Eric between the time he found out about the neck and today, or was this the first time you’ve had this discussion?
A: No, we’ve talked a few times. Yeah, it’s tough. I talked to him about his family; he just had a kid. It’s a big blow for everybody and we’re all just soaking it in. This was fast news and as Eric said, unfortunately, it got leaked on Friday, I believe, so that kind of threw a wrench in everything.
Q: Brandon, as GM, obviously you’ve always got to look ahead. How do you fill this leadership void that he creates?
A: It’s a big void. You guys know what leadership he brought. There’s a reason we re-signed him in August and had hoped – you know, we extended him two years and you always hope to get all the years. It doesn’t always happen and unfortunately, here, it didn’t. No, it’s a big void on the field and in the locker room and we’ll do our best to try and do that.
Q: So, the fact that he’s still on the roster, is that an indication that there is some unresolved contractual stuff?
A: Well, we don’t have any cap room right now. You roll it over. He’ll be on our roster for a while, until we figure things out.
Q: Not to get specific, I know you can’t do that, but is there a certain way you kind of have to approach this as far as the CBA is concerned with all different kinds of designations? Is that what you’re working through right now?
A: Yeah. That’s all what it is. We’ll get it worked out. He’ll do stuff on his end and we’ll do it with the help of the league office and the management council and we’ll figure it out from there.
Q: Is it disappointing in the sense that the day that you hope to send Eric off just became something to this effect? Just a statement?
A: Well, that’s why you just want to try and celebrate and hopefully he can celebrate again. I think it’s neat that he was able to get a lot of ex-players and friends and a lot of guys that are in this locker room here and staff, and that shows what Eric meant to the team and the community. I’d really rather just leave it at that. I think that’s the fair thing for him and for us right now.
Q: Do you know why he didn’t elaborate anymore? No questions or anything?
A: I’m not sure. Yeah, I’m not sure.
Q: Is it your understanding that his intention is to be done playing football?
A: I believe that’s what he’s been told now. Again, we’re still working through it. We’re not going to do any designations until we get a finality from both sides.
Q: He mentioned Dr. Cappuccino in his statement. How aware are you of a second opinion he might have gotten on that?
A: You know, I don’t want to get into it. I know he did, but I don’t know how many.
Q: Taking the football aspect out of it completely, you obviously know these guys. You work with them, you see them on a day-to-day basis. How tough is it for you as a General Manager to hear something like this?
A: Eric’s a good guy and he brought a good personality to the locker room. Like you said, he was one of the guys I know everybody media-wise went to in certain situations good or bad for this team. Even as I was coming on board, I was looking at some of the guys that generally are in front of the microphone and so he brought a leadership, Captain, all those things. I think somebody asked earlier, that’s hard to fill on the field and off the field but we’ll do our best to get that done.
Q: Brandon, so as I understand it, you’re still trying to figure things out from both sides in terms of some type of settlement CBA-related, how this goes, and I didn’t hear you say definitively that Eric Wood feels he’s done playing football.
A: I don’t want to get into that, whether he’s definitive or not. I think we’re still – this is all fresh. It’s all new. There’s never a perfect timetable for somebody to come up and talk about a situation like this. This is, again, I just hope we all as we report on this and write about it, we can support Eric and write about his day and try to make it about him and not about us going forward.
Q: What was the purpose of this, though? You have all these people here for that? For a minute and 42 seconds and then he walked out?
A: This is Eric’s day, so if he wanted to talk for twenty minutes, he could talk for twenty. That’s not something I can really answer.
Q: Did the team set this up or did Eric ask for it or how did it come about?
A: I think it was mutual.
Q: There seems to be some disagreement on his side somewhere. Did you know this was coming or did this day go different than you envisioned it waking up this morning?
A: I didn’t really have a vision for what it would be like. I’ve been to many different ones. They all have their own flavor.
Q: When did you find out that Eric was told he couldn’t play football anymore?
A: A couple of weeks ago [was] the first time. It happened pretty quick after the Jacksonville game but I don’t remember the exact date but it was within a week of that game.
Q: I might of missed this, but he is getting a second opinion to your knowledge?
A: I believe he’s had more than one opinion, yes.
Q: Already.
A: Yeah. He has.
Q: And both opinions lined up?
A: I think that’s where it’s at. I can’t say he’s not going to get any more.

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