Kyle Williams, Thurman Thomas, Fred Jackson and Jim Kelly — these players epitomize the heart of Buffalo Bills history, guys that fans fell in love with and hated to see leave the franchise. Now, fans are forced to say goodbye to longtime center Eric Wood, who just found out that his degenerative neck issues have deemed him unable to pass the team physical that clears him to play football, as stated by several sources such as Sports Illustrated. Slated to give a press conference on Monday at 1 PM., Wood will talk about his situation, and most likely announce his retirement that day.

Wood’s disheartening news has affected many Buffalo fans and players. Here is the story of Wood’s time in Buffalo.

A solid 2009 draft pick for Bills pays off

The Bills drafted Eric Wood in 2009. They were impressed by the University of Louisville star, who played center for most of his time with the Cardinals. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Wood embodied the hard-working, blue-collar values that made him a perfect fit for a city like Buffalo. Wood has been a great captain and leader for a Bills team that struggled to manage winning seasons since 1999. Since 2009, Buffalo has only had two winning seasons.

Wood has been through Buffalo’s ups-and-downs, as well as the team’s numerous coaching changes that included Dick Jauron, Chan Gailey, Doug Marrone, and Rex Ryan.

Wood, like veteran Kyle Williams, has been Buffalo’s port in the storm, a consistency that the Bills have needed. With coach Sean McDermott on board now, things seem to finally be moving in the right direction for a team that has had to contend with Tom Brady and The New England Patriots usually winning the AFC East since 2001.

One of the reasons that Buffalo ranked number one in rushing in 2015 and 2016 was due to Eric Wood. Wood is a guy that has protected quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Trent Edwards, E.J. Manuel, and Kyle Orton. Running backs, such as Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller, and LeSean McCoy have thrived with the help of the tough, gutsy center whose heart for football also extends to sick children.

Wood’s charity work has helped Buffalo kids

The Eric Wood Fund has helped sick children in the local Buffalo area and the Oishei Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, as stated by the Buffalo News. Wood’s soft spot for children comes from personal experience. His brother Evan passed away from cerebral palsy as a pre-teen. Wood’s generosity and philanthropy also extended to helping out with other local causes, such as Make a Wish and Bills Play 60 Program. Buffalo fans are thanking Wood for his years of service by donating to his fund.

Said teammate Richie Incognito about the news on Wood, as stated on Buffalo, “A huge loss for the organization. Eric’s a special guy. . . He’s got such a big heart, and he really does well to help people.”

Fortunately, Wood helped Buffalo end their playoff drought this year, as they made it into the post-season as a Wildcard.

Despite dropping the game 10-3 to the Jacksonville Jaguars, it was a shining moment for the team and just a stepping stone of what Buffalo could be. Now, the Bills need to do it without the 31-year old Wood.

Thank you for your service on and off the field, Eric Wood, Buffalo fans, and teammates will greatly miss you.