Vince Williams isn't beating around the bush. The loss to the Jaguars in the AFC Divisional Round hurt, and it's not a pain that will go away fast.
"It will bother me until OTAs," said Williams. "I don't get over things like that. I am sensitive in that way."
Williams, who will be entering his sixth season, knows it's not easy to get this far. Sure, he has been to the postseason more often than not in his career, making it four out of five years. But he knows the feeling of falling short of the ultimate goal of making it to the Super Bowl.
"Every time you don't with the Super Bowl it's a wasted opportunity," said Williams. "In any capacity when you come up short, you fail."
Like many of his teammates Williams will focus this offseason, and until the goal is reached, on improving, on working to be better. But he knows next year he will be doing so with some new faces, as offseason changes are always a given, whether it's through the NFL Draft or free agency.
"We just have to continue to try to get better," said Williams. "Whoever is back with us, the reality of the situation is this defense is done. We're not going to be the same defense next year in 2018 that we were in 2017. Those people that come back, and those that join us, have to put their hand in the pile, be prepared to work hard and win.
"It's sad. It's a disappointment, especially with everything we have been through. This is the most adversity I have ever been through in a football season that had with nothing to do with football. It's crazy. The exit of some guys, it's going to be hard."
When Williams talks about adversity, he is referring to things that made headlines throughout the year that didn't all happen on the playing field, from the confusion over the National Anthem, to Martavis Bryant's tweets, and more. But they were all things that didn't change their focus on the field.
"Some things came out in the media," said Williams. "It was misrepresented. I feel like we cleared it up. I think we had our eye on the prize. We just didn't get it done. We dropped the ball.
"We had a lot of media adversity. It's the most I have ever been a part of since I have been with the Steelers. We were 13-3, we had a great year despite all of the adversity. I think it helped with the continuity of this team. We had so much trouble stuff we had to overcome that we had to grow together."
Williams said there isn't an on/off switch that you can hit to control drama. It's just something that happens, and it's something that comes with the game.
"The NFL is sports entertainment at the end of day," said Williams. "I can't really take that out of it. I think people will create drama out of any situation. We had an abundance of it this year. More than I have ever experienced with the Steelers.
"You can't pick and choose what you are going through in life. If you could pick and choose you would pick a smooth sailing life. You can't do that. You can't do that as a football team either. You don't know what kind of adversity you are going to come up against in the season. You can't be prepared for that."
Williams went to social media after the game, ready to hear a lot of negative feedback from the fans regarding the loss. What was a pleasant surprise to him, was the positive feedback he personally got. However, the same wasn't true across the board, where criticism was directed at some. It's something Williams understands.
"You know how yinzers are," said Williams. "They are just like this. When you have a city of people that loves the Pittsburgh Steelers as much they do, I understand how they can be that emotional and upset. I can't blame them. I understand they will have some anger. As the emotion starts to trickle out of it, as the days go by, I think they will look back and realize we had a special unit this year and despite the adversity, we performed well."