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Football has been a priority for Anquan Boldin. But after 14 seasons, more than 200 games and nearly 14,000 yards receiving, the veteran wide receiver now feels a higher calling, which is why he left the Buffalo Bills on Sunday after only two weeks with the team and plans to retire.

“Football has afforded me a platform throughout my career to have a greater impact on my humanitarian work, and at this time, I feel drawn to make the larger fight for human rights a priority,” Boldin said in a statement to ESPN.com. “My life’s purpose is bigger than football.”

Boldin, 36, has spent parts of the past two years on Capitol Hill fighting for criminal justice reform. His cousin, Corey Jones, was shot to death by a plainclothes police officer in 2015 after Jones’ van broke down on the side of a South Florida highway.

Since then, Boldin has sought to give a voice not only to his family but also to those who feel that their cries for justice and change are falling on deaf ears.
“No. 1, you want to hear that they hear you,” Boldin told ESPN in 2016 before a trip to Capitol Hill. “You want to make sure they understand the things that we, as an African-American community, are going through. I don’t think our community feels that way right now, especially when it comes to law enforcement and the way we’re being policed.

“Our neighborhoods are feeling hurt. No. 2, you want to see changes in policy, in terms of how we train our police officers. And lastly, you want to see accountability — that justice will be served for all — to make sure that the relationship between the African-American community and police can be better. There’s work to be done on both sides because there’s a huge mistrust there. I want to help close that gap.”

Boldin and his wife, Dionne, have been heavily involved in community work in their hometown of Pahokee, Florida. The couple, who have two young sons, have touched thousands of families by providing educational and life opportunities, and in 2014, they established an endowment that has supported 15 four-year college scholarships.

“We respect Anquan’s decision to retire from the NFL,” Bills GM Brandon Beane said. “We appreciate the time he gave us over the past two weeks. He is one of the best receivers to play this game and wish him and his family all the best moving forward.”

“Football has afforded me a platform throughout my career to have a greater impact on my humanitarian work, and at this time, I feel drawn to make the larger fight for human rights a priority.”
Boldin — who was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals, where he played his first seven seasons — will be remembered as one of the game’s toughest wideouts if not players. He once returned in the season in which he sustained a broken jaw and played with it wired shut. He walks away from the game with 1,076 receptions for 13,779 yards and 82 touchdowns. He won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in the 2012 season. He also played for the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions.

“Anquan, on the field, was one of the greatest professionals and competitors I ever had the pleasure of playing with,” former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner told ESPN. “With all the great players I shared a field with, Q is one of top two players I would want with the ball in their hands and the game on the line. I am a better player for having played with him. But more importantly, he is one of the greatest people I was able to meet in my time in NFL. He has a heart to be a great husband, father and philanthropist — and is committed to making sure his legacy goes well beyond the [football field].”

Boldin won the NFL’s Walter Payton Award in 2016 for his charitable works off the field as well as his play on the field.

“Football in its purest form is what we all strive for as a nation,” Boldin said in his statement. “People from all different races, religions and backgrounds working together for one shared goal. The core values taught in football are some of the most important you can learn in life: to always be there for the guy next to you and not let your fellow man down. You do whatever it takes to make sure your brother is OK.”

Boldin now wants to help those beyond the football field, which is why he is walking away.

Anthony Lynn, Bills’ black offensive coordinator, against Rooney Rule

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, who interviewed last offseason for the Miami Dolphins’ and San Francisco 49ers’ head-coaching vacancies, says he is opposed to the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate.

“I think it’s good to get in front of the decision-makers and let them hear what you have to say,” he said Thursday. “But at the same time, I think some people take advantage of it. I’m not for it. Hire the best man for the job. That’s all I want.”

Lynn, who is black and has expressed interest in becoming a head coach, purposely avoided head-coaching interviews last offseason that he believed were simply arranged by teams to fulfill the Rooney Rule.

Named for Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, the NFL established the rule in 2003 with the intention of giving minority coaches greater opportunity in the hiring process. The NFL expanded the rule in 2009 to include “lead personnel executives” such as general managers.

“I think sometimes people do that to check the box,” Lynn said Thursday. “I don’t agree with it.”

The Bills promoted Lynn to offensive coordinator in September after firing Greg Roman. Lynn, a former running back for the 49ers and Denver Broncos in the 1990s, had served since 2003 as a running backs coach for various NFL teams. The New York Jets interviewed Lynn for their head-coaching vacancy that opened when Rex Ryan was fired after the 2014 season, but the Jets hired Todd Bowles.

“[The rule] has its pros and cons,” Lynn said. “If I didn’t do the interview in New York, maybe my name wouldn’t be circulating right now, I don’t know. But I think it’s good to get in front of the decision-makers and let them hear what you have to say.”

Bowles, according to an ESPN study published in July, is the only first-time minority head coach hired over the past five hiring cycles (2012-16).

“The good thing about the Rooney Rule was not that you had to interview a minority candidate but that it slowed the process down and made you do some research,” former NFL coach Tony Dungy told ESPN. “But now it seems like in the last few years, people haven’t really done what the rule was designed for. It has become, ‘Just let me talk to a couple minority coaches very quickly so I can go about the business of hiring the person I really want to hire anyway.’”

Elite Tyrod Taylor Jersey

The Buffalo Bills have placed their faith in quarterback Tyrod Taylor(Tyrod Taylor Jersey) by signing him to a contract extension.

Sources told ESPN the deal is for six years and $90 million. Taylor could earn up to $20 million more through difficult-to-reach incentives, sources said, but the Bills have a $10 million buyout option after the first year and another out after the second.

“I’m definitely thankful for the Pegulas, for the Bills organization and for Rex Ryan, for giving me an opportunity, first and foremost,” Taylor said. “Them offering me a contract for this many years definitely shows that they’re all-in, which is what our phrase is for this year. As far as a mindset going into a game, having financial stability or not having it, I’m a competitor from day one.”

The team announced the deal Friday, reached a day before the Bills open their preseason by hosting the Indianapolis Colts.

Taylor was entering the final year of his contract and was set to make a $2 million base salary this season but now will make $9.5 million, sources said. Next year’s option is for $15.5 million with a base salary of $12 million.

Before the team exercises the option for the second year, that year is guaranteed for injury at $27.5 million, sources said. After the option is exercised, the guarantee becomes $50 million for injury and $40.25 million fully guaranteed — including the money he was paid in 2016 and a portion of his 2018 base salary.

Taylor’s base salary of $13 million for the 2018 season will become guaranteed in March of that year. The deal contains no guarantees for after the 2018 season, sources said.

“Every year you have something to prove,” Taylor said of the Bills’ options in the deal. “This is a competition-driven league. It’s not like the NBA where everything is guaranteed. You can cut at any given time. Every time you step on that field, you have something to prove, and that’s been my mindset every time I step on the practice field — there’s something for me to prove, and I’m going to continue to keep showing that every time.”

Contract talks ramped up over the past month, and the signing comes a week after Taylor’s agent, Adisa Bakari, attended training camp outside Rochester, New York.

“We looked at it as we have a quarterback now,” general manager Doug Whaley said. “I hate to say it, but lack of a better term, we didn’t want to be greedy. We like working with Tyrod. We have faith in Tyrod. The coaching staff has faith in Tyrod. But most importantly, the team has faith in Tyrod and Tyrod has faith in himself. So, we said let’s go with what we have on hand and we’re excited about the future.”

The 27-year-old is being rewarded for displaying his dynamic dual-threat potential with a strong arm and scrambling ability in going 8-6 as a first-time starter last season and being named to the Pro Bowl. He completed 242 of 380 attempts for 3,035 yards and threw 20 touchdown passes. He set the franchise record for quarterbacks with 586 yards rushing and scored four times, trailing only Cam Newton in rushing yards (636) and rushing touchdowns (10) by a quarterback.

Taylor did miss two games with a knee injury.

“We went back and looked at everything he did last year and then we took into consideration how he came into the offseason, how he’s got a greater command of the offense, and a greater command of the team,” Whaley said. “And then when you take into account what he has shown on the field in this preseason camp, we just felt, again, that it was the right time and the right deal for both parties involved.”

Taylor spent his first four seasons serving as Joe Flacco’s backup with the Baltimore Ravens before signing with the Bills in free agency in March 2015. He won the No. 1 job in Buffalo after a three-way offseason competition against former starter EJ Manuel and Matt Cassel.

This year, Taylor has already shown signs of becoming more confident and taking on a larger leadership role. Numerous offensive players have credited him for being more assertive in the huddle.

Coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Greg Roman project that Taylor has great potential to build off last season because he is more familiar with the playbook.

Buffalo’s offense made significant jumps under Taylor last year and after the team retooled its roster by adding several established threats, including running back LeSean McCoy and tight end Charles Clay.

The Bills led the NFL with 2,432 yards rushing and finished 13th with 5,775 net yards offense, the most since 1992.

Taylor becomes the latest candidate to fill what has been an unsettled position in Buffalo since Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly retired after the 1996 season. Since then, the Bills have had 12 quarterbacks, including Taylor, start at least eight games. It’s a group that included Todd Collins, J.P. Losman, Trent Edwards and Kyle Orton.

Drew Bledsoe, from 2002 to 2004, was the only quarterback to retain the starting job over a three-season stretch.

Mario Williams Womens Jersey

LANDOVER, Md. — With the Buffalo Bills’ defensive struggles this season making the possibility of releasing defensive end Mario Williams(Mario Williams Jersey) during the offseason more likely, Williams on Sunday seemed to rule out the chance of him taking a pay cut from his $19.9 million salary cap number next season, expressing frustration with coach Rex Ryan’s defensive scheme.

“If this is the turnout of our defense, how does [a pay cut] even sound right?” Williams said in the locker room after the Bills’ 35-25 loss to the Washington Redskins.

“Like I said, you can change. People are scared of change and so forth. I’m all for it, because at the end of the day, if it works, so be it. Because I don’t need to sit here and say: ‘Yeah, I wish Jerry [Hughes] had 15 sacks. I wish Marcell [Dareus] had 15 sacks. I wish I had 15 sacks,’ across the board.

“If we win and we’re 10-4, or whatever, hey, hats off. But if it don’t work, yeah, there needs to be a different change. So if one person is singled out as that needs to be done, then so be it. That’s not my decision.”

Bills coach Rex Ryan told his players after Sunday’s loss, which eliminated Buffalo from playoff contention for the 16th consecutive season, that there will be “drastic changes” unless his 6-8 team gets better, adding that players and coaches “have two games to prove that we belong here.”

“This is the NFL,” Ryan said. “It happens. Everybody’s evaluated in this league. You can read between the lines.”

Asked if he felt he had something to prove over the final two games of this season to Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula, Ryan said: “Well, no. Well, I guess, yes,” he said. “Everyone has to.”

Ryan’s defense has come under fire this season from Williams and other players who have questioned the complexity of adjustments at the line of scrimmage and the lack of a consistent pass rush.

“You saw the game, and you’re trying to switch personnel as they’re coming out of the huddle,” Williams said after the game. “I don’t know who in the world is calling, saying what personnel they’re in or whatever, or how is that confusing. But apparently it is.

“My mindset is, if you’re an attack defense, you don’t let anything else dictate what you do. We’re gonna put who we’re gonna put out there, and then we’re gonna execute and make plays with the guys out there. I don’t care — I don’t need to wait on you to make a decision. And whoever seems to be missing personnel, so that we’re actually trying to switch. So we’re trying to switch men. It’s not like we’re trying to switch plays. We’re trying to switch men as they’re coming out of the huddle.

“That’s happened a few times in 10 years with me. A few times. That’s 10 years. But like you said, game in, game out, I don’t know how in the world that keeps happening.”

After allowing the NFL’s fourth-fewest yards and tallying an NFL-best 54 sacks last season under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, the Bills entered Sunday ranked 19th in yards allowed this season and 30th in sacks.

Williams had previously questioned Ryan’s scheme in October, noting how much he was required to drop into coverage compared to Schwartz’s system, which almost exclusively used Williams as a down lineman.

The four-time Pro Bowler said he will “wait and see if [his] number is called” and said to “ask Rex” about any “changes” that the coach might make.

“At the end of the day, I want to be wherever we can go and win,” Williams said. “That’s how I see it. And I know we can here. That’s 100. I mean, I know that. I know we can win here. Now, me personally, if I don’t fit into the scheme, if it’s just me, if it’s obvious it’s just me, then so be it. But if it’s continuity across the board as far as how things are unfolding, then that’s now my decision, still. But hey, you can blame me for everything. That’s fine.”

Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins also expressed frustration to reporters after the game.

“You can’t blame it on nobody. It’s a new team, everybody coming together as a whole, guys don’t even know each other,” Watkins said. “Like I said, we’ve got to figure out the problem, and I believe in the coaches that they’re going to figure it out. We’ve got to step up as players and say how we feel. We’ve all got to evaluate each other and ourselves and the coaches, and we’re gonna get it fixed.”