ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Safety Aaron Williams was among the closest teammates to former running back Fred Jackson, but Williams explained Monday that Jackson's impact reached far beyond the Buffalo Bills' locker room.
"To me, Fred was the governor of Buffalo," Williams said. "Everybody looked up to him. It wasn’t just the guys in the locker room. If you asked the fans in the community, they’ll tell you that No. 22 was by far the No. 1 favorite in the city."
A glum Williams spoke to reporters shortly after wearing Jackson's No. 22 jersey to practice, a gesture that had the blessing of coach Rex Ryan.
"Just showing my respects," Williams said. "Just like any other player, I have a lot of respect for a player who has left such a legacy here."
When Jackson was informed of his release Monday morning, Williams was the first player to which Jackson broke the news.
"It was just like having your brother be gone," Williams said. "He picked me up from Day 1 and that's all I've known since I've been here, is No. 22."
Asked how Ryan explained the decision to the team, Williams responded, "He just said it was a tough business and they tried everything they could to have him on the team. In their plan, it just wasn’t the right timing."
Williams called the NFL a "cutthroat" business but later added that the front office's decisions were out of his control.
"You think in this business that you have a guaranteed spot?" Williams said. "Today it just proved to you that you don't."