On Tuesday, I got the chance to sit down and talk to two time Super Bowl champion and new Buffalo Bills tackle, LaAdrian Waddle. We dove into why he chose to join the Bills, how he and his wife have integrated themselves into the Buffalo community, and the intense offensive line competition that will ensue this summer.
Waddle was one of several offensive linemen to join Buffalo this March after hitting the free agent market. Although free agency is exciting for fans, it is a lot of work for players as they sift through offers from various teams and determine which route is best for them.
This offseason, Waddle got the opportunity to decide where he was going to play in 2019. After considering all his options, he chose Buffalo over several other teams, including his former team, the New England Patriots.
“There was interest [from teams], New England was still in it but it came down to me feeling that Buffalo was an opportunity that was best for me. There are some similarities in how they go about their business and how I approach the game and the things that I take pride in” said Waddle when explaining why he chose to join the Bills.
After pointing out similarities of the cultures between the Bills and the Patriots, Waddle began to reflect on his first impressions of head coach Sean McDermott.
“They really preached the family aspect of things and [McDermott] is one of those guys who will be upfront and honest with you. As a player, that is all you could ask for out of a coach.”
Expanding on his first visit to One Bills Drive, Waddle noted that the Bills staff were welcoming but also adamant about the competition at the position.
Fitting in with the Team
Not only is Waddle ready for the competition, he is excited for it. When asked about the task at hand, Waddle expressed that he is pumped to get back on the field and that he thinks he brings a unique skill set to the table.
“This is my seventh year and I’ve played a lot of different guys and just that experience of playing the game the right way and seeing things the way that I see, I think will be unique.”
As a two time Super Bowl champion, there is a lot of knowledge that Waddle can pass on to some of the younger linemen like Dion Dawkins, Cody Ford, and Wyatt Teller. The most important quality that Waddle encouraged the young linemen to seek is consistency.
“Have consistency in everything they do because as an offensive lineman, consistency is something that sets a good lineman apart from an average lineman. [Consistency] is something that allows them to go in, play after play and get the job done and get it done the right way.”
One of the biggest changes Waddle will have to endure is who he is blocking for. The former Patriot is transitioning from blocking for an elite pocket passer in Tom Brady, to a much younger and mobile signal caller in Josh Allen. Although all of his exposure to Allen thus far has been from the opposing sideline, Waddle spoke highly of Allen’s development and even said that Allen’s potential as quarterback played a role in his decision to join the Bills.
“He’s going to take a jump in his second year, there is a chance that this guy can really turn it on and be an impact quarterback and that played a part in it for me deciding to come here too.”
As a player, there are a lot of changes involved with swapping teams but Waddle was not phased by adjusting to life in Western New York but rather how he could contribute to the team’s success.
“Obviously I want the same success that I had over there. That is the biggest thing, is to have the same success as a team that we’ve had in the past in New England.”
Team activities have slowly began to pick back up, which has allowed new players to select which jersey number they will wear for the Bills. Waddle wore number 66 while he played for the Detroit Lions, but switched to number 68 in his time with the Patriots. When it came time to chose his number for the Bills, Waddle decided it was time for a fresh start. With several numbers available, Waddle entertained the idea of moving up to the 70’s, which led him to wearing number 74 for Buffalo in 2019.
“A lot of guys have ties to certain numbers but 66 and 68 were just different stages of my career and now 74 is this stage.”
Since joining the Bills in March, Waddle and his wife Shelby dove head first into Bills Mafia and all of the “BuffaLove” that comes with it, specifically interacting with fans on Twitter and calling out a few haters along the way. When asked about his involvement with Bills Mafia, Waddle expressed that he and his wife did not want to waste any time joining some of the best fans in the league.
“If we can have any kind of impact on the community, we are going to do it. We just hit the ground running and it’s nice to be able to do stuff in the community like we have so far.”
To close out the interview, I asked LaAdrian a question that has in a way become a mandatory question to ask when interviewing Bills players, and that is whether he eats his buffalo wings with ranch or blue cheese. Although he primarily enjoys ranch, he said he is willing to try blue cheese and he plans to do so in the future.
Everyone at Unfiltered Sports appreciates LaAdrian for his time and wishes him nothing but the best in 2019.