ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Mario Williams refused to be labeled as someone who was emotionally unstable in dismissing questions about his mental state raised by a series of text messages from his former fiancee.
In his first opportunity to respond to a transcript of a text conversation released by Erin Marzouki's attorney last week, Williams, a defensive end for the Buffalo Bills, defended himself Monday by saying he's never contemplated suicide and doesn't have an issue with taking painkillers. He then went on the offensive in accusing Marzouki of attempting to take private comments out of context in a bid to win a lawsuit over the possession of a $785,000 diamond engagement ring.
"Obviously it's just a tactic to cover up the point of the whole thing," Williams said. "It is what it is. I could really care less. All it is (is) allegations and text messages and what not, whatever information blown out of proportion. I mean, it's completely out of context."
Williams added that Marzouki's decision to make the conversation public is something that shows her true character.
"You sit here and text somebody who was supposed to mean this and that to you, and then this happens? No, it's better off," Williams said. "So I'm glad this is actually coming out."
Williams spoke after the Bills opened their second week of voluntary minicamp practices. And it marks the second consecutive week the dispute between Williams, the NFL's highest paid defensive player, and Marzouki has captured most of the attention.
Williams filed a lawsuit in Texas' Harris County district court May 3, demanding Marzouki return the ring and accusing her of breaking off the engagement in January. Marzouki filed a countersuit last week, calling Williams' claims "ridiculous" and "patently false," and argued it was the player who broke off the engagement.
The lawsuit was filed a little over a year after Williams and Marzouki happily posed for pictures in the Bills media room once the team signed the free-agent to a six-year, $100 million contract.
On Friday, after the two sides failed to mediate the dispute, Marzouki's lawyer, Tony Buzbee, characterized Williams as someone who experienced "dramatic mood swings" throughout the engagement. Buzbee then released the texts of the conversation that occurred Nov. 11 which he copied off his client's phone in an effort to show how despondent Williams was over their breakup.
In one text, Williams wrote: "No money in the world should leave me with suicidal thoughts."
On Monday, Williams called himself "completely fine," and added: "Have you seen any of the notion, me needing any kind of help?"
He said he was "venting" his feelings to someone Williams thought he trusted.
"Me texting somebody something, especially somebody who was in a situation that it was then, I think that's just a way of venting out," Williams said. "But obviously, that was the wrong person to vent to."
Another text has Williams revealing that he took three hydrocodones that morning, the day of Buffalo's game at New England. And he planned to take two more on the plane home. Hydrocodone is classified as a narcotic, and prescribed to relieve moderate to severe pain.
Williams explained that any painkillers he took were prescribed by the team. And, he added, he was playing in pain at the time, with the game occurring three weeks after he had surgery to repair an injured left wrist.
Concerns over professional athletes' mental health have become a high-profile issue in the NFL. Former star linebacker Junior Seau committed suicide a year ago. Last season, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend before killing himself.
"Dude," Williams said, when Seau and Belcher were brought up, "I'm nowhere near that position."
He then put the onus on Marzouki. If she was so concerned about his state of mind, Williams questioned why she brought these texts to light now, and not then?
Williams doesn't regret filing the lawsuit, and said he's not affected by the accusations.
"In my situation, dude, my skin is unbreakable," Williams said, before pointing to the football field. "This is all that matters to me. And that logo. So everything else about old stuff and this and that, it sounds good, but that's the least of my worries."