Former NFL Pro Bowler announces he's suffered a painful career-ending injury


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Buffalo Bills center Eric Wood’s playing career is now over as the nine-year vet announced Friday he has suffered a devastating neck injury.

Wood played through the injury for all 16 regular season games and the Bills first postseason game since 1999. But during his season-ending physical, the injury was revealed.

As a result, Wood’s final NFL game was the Bills’ playoff loss to Jacksonville.

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He said he’d provide more information at a press conference Monday.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the injury is partly due to wear and tear but is also part of a “complicated medical situation.”

Wood was only on the injury report once this season, which was in Week 9.

He still played that game, and in fact played every snap for Buffalo this season. He was the only Bill to be on the field for every play in which his unit was on the field.

Wood was one of the two offensive captains for Buffalo, along with quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

He started all 120 games he played in with the Bills after being a first-round pick out of Louisville in the 2009 draft.

A Pro Bowler in 2015, Wood was a constant within an organization that was often in flux. He played under seven different head coaches and six different offensive coordinators since entering the league.

After ending his 2016 season on injured reserve due to a broken leg, Wood looked so good during training camp in 2017 that the Bills offered him an extension. He signed a two-year deal that would have locked him up through the 2019 season, but now the Bills will be looking for a new center.

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Wood was the Bills’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in both 2015 and 2016. He is beloved in the Buffalo community for his off-the-field work.

In November, he helped to raise $57,000 to support the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. Wood is inspired by his younger brother, Evan, who suffered from cerebral palsy and died in 2011.

Many of his Bills teammates voiced their support for Wood in the aftermath of his announcement.

Guard Richie Incognito said Wood was instrumental in him getting back into the NFL. After the fallout of his bullying scandal with the Miami Dolphins, Incognito spent all of 2014 out of football before joining the Bills in 2015.

“He’s had a lot to do with my career, especially lately in Buffalo,” Incognito said. “When I found out I was going to go for the interview with the [team owner] Pegulas, E-Wood was one of the first [people] I told. But, yeah, he’s been instrumental in me coming back in the league and re-establishing myself. E-Wood provided that friendly face in the locker room and that kind of cover for me to be myself. He’s really instrumental in all my success I’ve had the last couple years.”

The Bills will likely look for Wood’s replacement in the draft, and they’ll have ample opportunity to find their next starting center. Buffalo has an extra pick in each of the first three rounds thanks to trades made in 2017.

They can only hope their next center is the same kind of player and person that Eric Wood has been for Buffalo.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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