Aaron Williams is a ball-hawking safety for the Buffalo Bills and a self-described "country boy." He was raised in Texas, played football for the Longhorns, and loves country music, rodeos, hunting and -- especially -- fishing.
"When you have downtime," he says, "you want to get away from everything, and the best way to do that is fishing."
Williams got his first taste of angling at age 6, when he learned to bait a hook and pull a catfish out of the water. "My grandfather taught me not to touch the whiskers," he says. "The first time I got one, I was hoping he would help, but he said, 'As a man, you have to learn how to get stuff done by yourself.'"
Williams laughs. "It took me a while to get that catfish off my hook, but it's one of the things my grandpa taught me," he says. "When you have problems in life, you have to figure them out on your own. That was one of the keys to learning to fish."
At UT, Williams and his roommate would head out to Lake Austin anytime they didn't have practice. "There are so many great spots, and people here are really courteous," Williams says. "I had a neighbor who allowed me to fish on the pond by his house. He had a lot of catfish, smallmouth and largemouth bass, and he let us go whenever we wanted."
Fishing with a bunch of football players naturally breeds competition. One time, Williams was fishing at a UT alum's ranch, and he decided to make a friendly wager with his roommate: whoever caught the fewest fish had to buy dinner.
"My roommate is the most experienced fisherman I know, so I'm pretty sure he was expecting to win," Williams says. "He got the first two fish, and I was like, 'Oh man, I might be in trouble!' Literally minutes later, I caught three fish back-to-back-to-back. He was like, 'Man, what's going on?' And I was like, 'I guess I got the luck on my side.'"
Williams signed a new contract with the Bills this offseason and is now buying a 370-acre ranch in Texas replete with three ponds. He and his buddies have a gameplan that includes catfish, large and smallmouth bass, and a brand new boat. "I know the guys are tired of just fishing off their feet," he says. "It'll be great to go out in the middle of the lake and just enjoy it.
"When the time comes, when I start raising a family, my kids are going to learn how to fish," Williams says. "I'm taking all the essential methods my friends, my father and my grandfather taught me and passing them down to the next generation. I'm going to start a family tradition because I think getting away from your life and your daily work, to relax your mind, is a huge key to being successful.
"Whenever I have time to go out and go fishing, to get away from football and life, I just have fun."