When I was scrolling through the draft picks by the Buffalo Bills in the last 20 years, seeing the name Nate Clements brought back a multitude of memories from his years in Buffalo. If I could describe Nate as a football player in one word, I would use ‘Driven’.
To establish a little history here, for those of you who don’t remember Nate Clements upon leaving the Buffalo Bills in 2007 Clements became the highest paid Defensive player in NFL history when he signed an eight-year $80 million dollar deal with the San Francisco 49ers. For the record, the NFL has since had 2 players who have received larger Defensive contracts. Albert Haynesworth (WSH $100 mil) and Mario Williams (BUF $96 mil)
In this highlight video, you will see that he makes some of these spectacular plays look like it’s just another day at the office. You can teach football skills, but you can’t teach athleticism. You can get stronger with proper coaching and training, but you can’t teach a player to want something bad enough to not accept any other option. It is not very often that you see a NFL player standing 6’0”, weighing 190 lbs and run a consistent 4.40 – 40 yard dash. Fellow Buckeye and Buffalo Bill Antoine Winfield ran his best 40 at 4.39 seconds. To me, it is obvious that Nate knows what he is going to do before doing it. The aggressiveness, the physicality and complete domination in one on one situations made him a true master of his craft.
The first thing that fails an athlete when fatigue begins to set in is the mental awareness. You will see in this video how consistently Nate is beating his opponent to their spot. He had a knack for knowing the shortest line to take when chasing down a RB/WR who has broken open for a big play. His anticipation of where the ball is going to be thrown or deflected made him even faster than he actually was physically. He recorded an astounding 36 interceptions throughout his 12 year career.
He thrived when he was trailing an offensive player. With the obscured vision due to the football helmet, Clements could rip or poke the ball out of the Offensive players hands before they realized what happened. He was viscous when tearing the ball off of a player trying to go to the ground and as a result he recorded 22 forced fumbles over the course of his career.
One of the highlights that I will always remember of Nate Clements is one that I think all Bills fans smile at. Take a look at the video below. If you consider yourself a Bills fan then I don’t think you will be able to watch it just once.