Four years before the Buffalo Bills traded up to land the man who would become their franchise star, quarterback Josh Allen, the team pinned their hopes on wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who signed with the Green Bay Packers this past spring.
Back in 2014, the Bills exchanged a future first-round pick to select the Clemson alum with their No. 4 overall pick, and while Watkins set new franchise records in receptions (65) and receiving yards (982) during his rookie year, things quickly went downhill. Watkins’ remaining tenure in Buffalo was marred with injuries and after the Bills hired head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane, the once-promising receiver was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in 2017.
For a player who literally prayed to get traded out of Buffalo, as he revealed in a bombshell interview with Bleacher Report in 2020, and lashed out at fans on social media, Watkins’ comments about facing his former team for the first time on Sunday, October 30, turned some heads on Twitter. “I just can’t wait to get there,” Watkins told reporters on Wednesday.
“Rough Buff! I had some of my best times there. People don’t know that was my childhood team and it still is my team. So, to play for an organization that I love, I liked growing up as a kid is definitely a blessing. And I have some of my best memories. My first child was [born] there.. a lot of replaying all the great times I had with the coaches and the team.”
The 29-year-old’s comments are in stark contrast with what he told Bleacher Report’s Tyler Dunne two years ago, during which he painted a very dark picture of his time in Buffalo. “Watkins partied ‘every night’- yes, ‘every night,’ he repeats — turning downtown Buffalo’s Chippewa Street into his own personal frat party,” Dunne wrote. “Beer, liquor… Watkins didn’t discriminate in lighting his $12.8 million signing bonus on fire with friends who followed him north. ‘Living fast,’ he calls it, holding up a pretend blunt. Yeah, he smoked plenty too.”
“Then he’d wake up, go to practice and suffer the consequences. Along the way, his body deteriorated. When he thinks back on it, he admits now: ‘Those injuries were largely a result of his own behavior.’” Watkins avoided the Bills’ facility the summer before he was traded and “idiotically, ripped the boot off his foot to jog around town,” Dunne noted. “Watkins felt nothing but bad energy” from McDermott and after he was traded, felt the coach “answered his prayers.”
Watkins thrived with the Rams, and in 2018, signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he became a Super Bowl champion. During the two occasions that Kansas City faced the Bills during his three-season tenure with the Chiefs, Watkins was inactive.
Bills Fans Had Strongly Mixed Reacted to Watkins’ Comments
Bills Mafia had strongly mixed reactions to Watkins’ positive comments about returning to Buffalo. One Bills fan tweeted, “We are not looking forward to Sammy coming back. He admitted to drinking, smoking weed and coming to practice hungover. We moved up to get him in the draft and that was his pay back to his child hood team. He’s just blowing smoke with his comments. He’s a slacker!” while another person responded, “Oh no, a person that made mistakes & fully owned up to it, as you pointed out…Such a monster!”
“Interesting – I thought he hated it here,” one fan tweeted. “Granted, playing for Marrone and Rex was probably not much fun.”
One man tweeted out Watkins’ since-deleted Instagram message to fans in 2015 telling them “get a life and go to work,” and calling them “losers.” Watkins later apologized, calling his statement “inappropriate.”
Another fan tweeted, “I hated when they traded him. I remember I was so hyped when the Bills moved up and drafted him. We just didn’t have a QB at the time. I feel bad for him, will always be a fan,” while one man responded, “I wasn’t mad at trading him knowing he really didn’t want to be there anyway.”
“Wonder if he’s gonna get wasted when he’s in town for old times sake,” a person tweeted, while another Bills fan wrote, “I’ll drink to that.”
Watkins Has Missed 4 Games This Season
Watkins appeared in two games this season before suffering a hamstring injury and getting placed on IR. However, the veteran receiver returned to practice on Wednesday, October 19 and caught two receptions for 36 yards during Green Bay’s loss to the Washington Commanders in Week 7.
In the three games he’s appeared in this season, Watkins has totaled eight receptions for 147 yards and zero touchdowns.