Last Friday during his bye week, we got a chance to speak with George Wilson, the starting strong safety for the Buffalo Bills, who is now in his seventh year in the league. Wilson is the team’s union representative, so we asked him about what he thinks about the recent decision by Roger Goodell to recuse himself from the Saints bounty appeals progress. He also asked him about how a safety has had to change his game with recent changes in rules about hitting defenseless receivers. We also asked if there were anyone else on the team as crazy as Stevie Johnson.
KSK: How are you spending your bye week? What have you been up to so far?
George Wilson: Going good. Came home to Atlanta for a few days. Just taking it easy. Getting a little rest and relaxation before I gotta go back and clock back in for the second half of the season.
KSK: So you guys had a bit of a letdown on Sunday against Tennessee. You seemed to take that particularly hard. There was an interception that you could have had late in the game right before the Titans scored the go-ahead touchdown. When you have a loss like that, obviously you have to let it go, but how long will you typically catch yourself thinking about it?
George Wilson: We have a 24-hour rule on our team and I’m sure most teams have it. It’s a 24 hour window where you can enjoy the victory or however you handle dealing with defeat. With a loss like that, it lingers a little more, especially with us going into a bye week. Under normal circumstances, I’d have moved on to our next opponent. You can’t dwell on the previous week because that’ll get you beat that week. It lingers a little bit more, but now I’ve gotten over it. I’m just starting to get ready for the Houston Texans, who we play when we go back next week.
KSK: Sorry, I meant to check your schedule. Do you guys play a Thursday night game this season?
George Wilson: Yeah, we got a Thursday night game coming up against Miami.
KSK: Gotcha. How do feel about the Thursday night games being a regular thing this year? There’s a lot of concern that the quick turnaround affects the quality of play. Can you explain how your schedule changes for that week as opposed to a regular full week of preparation?
George Wilson: I think it’s a good thing for the league because it gives all the teams an opportunity to be on prime time television. So it’s something that will boast the followings of big market teams but also create more marketing opportunities and ways to expand your fan base by allowing small market teams to get prime time viewership as well. From a football perspective, typically after a Sunday game you have Mondays off to review the film and to get a weight workout in. If you play on Thursday, you’re probably going to go through the same exact schedule for Monday. Tuesday is usually the universal day off in the NFL, but if you have a Thursday game, you’re going to have a normal practice on Tuesday. It won’t be a non-padded practice. You’ll have meetings and walk-through on that Wednesday to get ready for the game on Thursday. I think coaches can tweak the schedules to squeeze in a second practice on that Monday, but I think a lot of that is contingent on your injury situation. If you have a lot of injuries, obviously you give your team another day off and just practice on Tuesday. If you’re not really banged up, you might squeeze in that Monday practice. It just depends on your coaching staff and the make-up of your team. Are you a veteran team or a young team? A lot of that plays a part into how coaches structure an abbreviated work week.
KSK: You made some comments during the summer about how Roger Goodell handles disciplinary issues and how the appeals process works. What are your thoughts about Goodell recusing himself from the Saints bounty issue? Is that a step in the right direction or just a case where his hand was forced?
George Wilson: I think it’s a step in the right direction, but I think there’s been some questions raised about his replacement, former commissioner Paul Tagliabue, possibly having a conflict of interest because the law firm that he works for has represented commissioner Goodell in the defamation law suit that Jonathan Vilma has pending at the moment, as well as some other things. That could be a potential conflict of interest there. I don’t have all the information that they have. But the fact that he recused himself from the appeals process is a step in the right direction even though we’re not there yet.