Former Bills WR Breaks Silence After Ugly On-Field Incident in CFL

Duke Williams

Getty Duke Williams celebrates a first down in a Buffalo Bills game.

Duke Williams is opening up about the controversial on-field incident that led to his suspension in the Canadian Football League.

The former Buffalo Bills wide receiver was hit with a one-game suspension for getting into a fight before a CFL game on July 16. Video showed Williams, who plays for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, taking the helmet of Shaquille Richardson of the Toronto Argonauts and then throwing it at Richardson.

While Williams offered an apology for the incident, he also vehemently denied another allegation leveled at him by the Toronto coach.

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Williams Apologizes

After serving a one-game suspension last week, Williams was able to return to the Roughriders and issued an apology to fans for the incident.

“I apologize to Rider Nation,” Williams said on July 26. “I apologize to my teammates, the fans. I got out of character. It won’t happen again. But at the end of the day, that’s all I apologize for.”

Toronto head coach Ryan Dinwiddie had also accused Williams of spitting on Richardson during the incident. Williams strongly denied the claim, saying it was fabricated because he had gotten the better of the Toronto cornerback.

“If you’re not a dog and you’re weak, you make up excuses,” Williams said. “That’s what you do. That’s what he did — made up an excuse because I dogged him out. And at the end of the day, he made up an excuse. I ain’t spit on nobody, and that’s what it is.”

As AL.com’s Mark Inabinett reported, Richardson was also issued a CFL-maximum fine for initiating the confrontation with Williams before the game, and later for punching the former Bills receiver during the game.

Still, Williams put the blame on himself for responding as he did.

“You poke a bear too much, of course he’s going to get angry, so that’s what happened,” Williams said. “I got out of character. I was mad, and I let my emotions get the best of me, which I can’t do. I’m a professional athlete. I have these fans looking up to me. I’m a leader of this team, and I can’t show that on the field at the end of the day.”


Williams Once a Top Target for Bills

Williams had a handful of highlights during his two seasons with the Bills, including a game-winning touchdown catch against the Tennessee Titans in 2019 and a start in the team’s Wild Card playoff game against the Houston Texans later that season.

Williams was a healthy scratch for the majority of that season, and ended the year with just 12 catches for 166 yards and one touchdown. Some Bills fans called for him to have a more prominent role in the offense, as his 6-foot-4 frame made him the biggest target in an otherwise small receiving corps.

Williams saw his role continue to dwindle, and in 2020 he appeared in just one game and had no targets. The following year Williams returned back to the CFL, where he had been the leading receiver in 2019 prior to moving south of the border to join the Bills.

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