C.J. Spiller was back on the practice field for the Buffalo Bills on Monday, full speed ahead in preparation for this weekend's season opener after being absent the past week because of family tragedy.
The former Clemson star arrived back in Buffalo for the end of practice on Sunday, after returning from his hometown in Florida, where his step-grandfather was involved in a stunning murder-suicide.
According to police reports, on Aug. 24 Hubert Allen Jr., Spiller’s step-grandfather, shot four people in Lake Butler, Fla. Two of those people died, and the 74-year-old Allen then turned the gun on himself.
Spiller learned of the news just before the Bills played the Washington Redskins on that same day. He chose to play, and then left immediately afterwards for Florida..
Spiller, after speaking at length with Bills coach Doug Marrone after practice on Sunday, told reporters "I wanted to be around my guys - I wanted to come to practice with these guys and get ready for New England."
"I understand that it is a tragic event that took place," Spiller said. "It’s going to take a while to cope with it. But at the same time, I can’t forget the task and the goal and the dreams that we have here as a team and as an organization. I want to be a part of that...
“Obviously, I’m lying if I said I’ll put it behind me. It’s still early. There’s still some emotions there. When I get out there on the football field that’s all I’m worried about. When I go home and stuff like that, you should be able to cope with it. I’m pretty sure if I need any guidance or counseling, I’ll get that.”
Spiller said he was humbled by the outpouring of support from the Bills' organization to his family and the entire Lake Butler, Fla. community.
"This organization, I mean this a first-class organization," Spiller said. . The way they send their support, their thoughts and prayers to everybody involved....because if you don’t know, my hometown is a 1,900 population. It’s a small community, so when they wanted to send their condolences down to all of Union County, it speaks volumes about the organization that we have here.
“Like I said, the supporting cast of Coach Marrone, our CEO Russ (Brandon) and our GM Doug Whaley — I was texting those guys, checking up on them, they were checking up on me. I was letting them know I was pretty good. I just wanted to get that out of the way and thank everybody for the privacy for the most part with my family. We were grieving and everyone was trying to get a statement, but it wasn’t the appropriate time that I thought. I told them I’d handle everything as far as a statement once I got back to Buffalo.”