I have an hour before physical therapy on my back and I need this outlet to get some things off my chest. If the DGWU crew haven't made it clear enough to you yet, let me just reiterate that we are having difficulty getting excited for the upcoming NFL season. The reasons are countless, but I believe I have narrowed it down to three major points.
1) The media coverage in the NFL has become sickening. The Apologist covered this a few days ago, but I have to chime in with how much I despise ESPN. They only hype up the stories that have a positive effect on the network and only report what the NFL force feeds them. Do you remember Ron Mexico
? In fact, when it comes to a story that they feel is "beneath them", they will flat out not even make an attempt to get the info correct. Don't get me started on how they fuck up hockey news. Whether it's reporting that Tampa Bay was playing in the Stanley Cup, pronouncing Derek Roy's name wrong in highlights (several times), or completing ignoring free agency this summer, it is apparent that they just don't give a shit. However, ESPN will still show painfully obvious signs of doing no research whatsoever in other sports if they believe the team doesn't matter. For example, twitter member twoeightnine dropped this gem a few moments ago.
Are you kidding me? Even a wallflower fan could probably tell you how dumb that comment is. Anyone who plays fantasy football, Bills fan or not could have told you how wrong that statement it is. Fucking ridiculous.
2. All other sports are more exciting right now. The NBA playoffs were phenomenal. Not even including Dallas & Dirk's route of the Heat, you still had underdogs like Memphis and Indiana playing crazy good ball, the Miami - Chicago series, and everything that Kevin Durant does. You also had the NHL playoffs, which despite Buffalo bowing out early (more on them later), there was still Washington - NYR, Tamp - Boston, Vancouver - San Jose, and what turned out to be a pretty solid Cup finals (minus the rioting and the fact that I HATE everything Boston
). Hell, even soccer is hitting its stride in the U.S. Between the USMNT's Gold Cup play and the USWNT in the World Cup, I even got excited about soccer. The nationally televised WNY Flash game (yeah, Mendola!) and a Portland vs. Seattle MLS games a few backs were both more entertaining than your average ESPN Monday Night Football plug fest.
Back in April I was legitimately freaked out by the possibility of no season, but as the months passed, I started to care less and less. On top of that, the new Terry Pegula Sabres have me so excited for next season, I just want football to be over so I can focus on hockey. Oh it's true. It's damn true. But, that leads me to the next reason....
3. Ralph Wilson and the Buffalo Bills have broken my spirit. The entire crew here is TIRED of the Buffalo Bills being an embarrassment. Does that make people think we are bad fans? Yeah...well...you know that's just like...uh...your opinion, man.
Trust me. I was on the other side not too long ago. Yachtsman and I have had some battles the last couple of seasons because I felt like he gave up on the team. I have realized it isn't so much about giving up, it's about getting sick of the same old crap and an awful football product being placed on the field year after year. I know the players try, I'm not calling them out so much as I'm aiming at the front office and ownership. This team is exhausting.
I actually like Chan Gailey, and I love the Whaley kid they brought in from Pittsburgh to most likely be Nix's eventual replacement, but it has become astonishingly difficult to get fired up for the up and coming Bills season. Getting let down year after year isn't about the lack of movement in free agency, it's the terrrible moves they make that never pan out. The offensive line has been a joke for 10 years after brilliant moves for players like Dockery, Walker, and the lovely Cornell Green. Ugh. It is so difficult to stomach.
I'm absolutely NOT saying I know what they can do to fix this. I would be a terrible GM. My point it is, there has been little to no positive results from the franchise carousel in the front office. This includes the draft, which you can follow up with if your new to the site, and never read my Epic Fail Draft series
. I'm not going hate on Poz leaving anymore, or what I originally thought was a ridiculous signing of Brad Smith, or any other move they make until I can see how it pans out. But that is the problem. 95% of all personnel moves have been vomit-inducing. Why can't any of these professionals get it right? Yachter has touched on this before, and recently Corey at The Goose's Roost added to the fire
. Until Ralph is gone, this team is a big "Fuck You" to fans. Ralph doesn't give a shit about us. When he is gone, it is either going to be the greatest thing for the franchise (a new passionate owner ala TPegs) or the worst (The L.A. Leonardo's). I know it. You know it. Assholes like Brett Ratner and Jeremy Piven are jerking off over it.
I haven't always felt like this. In 2007, I would have wanted to kick future me in the nuts and dump a beer on him. So let me get it straight: I LOVE THE BUFFALO BILLS. On opening day I will be with the rest of the DGWU crew and other fans cheering on the Bills and going absolutely nuts for every down. I wrote once before about how important Western New York and the sports franchises are to me and everyone else born there
. It is one of my favorite things I have ever written and I mean every word of it. But over the last few years, my expectations and reactions to the results of the games have changed infinitely. I'll break it down for you.
In 2007, I started dating my current girlfriend and I quickly converted her to a Bills and Sabres fan (stills pull for the G-men though). Almost every week we would head out to one of several bars in NYC and watch the games with hordes of fellow Buffalo Bills fans. We would reserve tables, arrive before alcohol was even being served, and be decked out in as much Bills gear as possible. During the games the we would go through kegs worth of beers and pounds and pounds of wings. There was even rituals such as football in the street during halftime and the famed "Tim Dance" after a touchdown. It was the highlight of my week, but here's the thing; every game I was so fired up for a win and I truly believed they could pull out every game. I believed in the franchise and the outcome of the game either made my week or destroyed it. The girlfriend would often dislike this about me, because after a Bills win I was the happiest guy in the world, but after a bad loss (you know the kind) I would be miserable the rest of the night and would count down every hour until the next game so I could possibly get that "winning high" back. Sad, I know.
Over the last few seasons there has been a change. I still love the GAME of football and the Buffalo Bills, but I'm not letting them set me up for an emotional letdown anymore. Two seasons ago my girlfriend mentioned that I wasn't getting quite as upset after bad losses as I use to, and then this past season I can honestly say there was only one game where I was angry and highly disappointed afterwards. That was the Baltimore overtime loss. I still have no clue why that game got to me, but it did. The Yachtsman broke it down for me quite well on the phone after the game after I screamed for 15 minutes. "Why do you care so much when ownership couldn't give flying fuck about you?" Good question. I didn't want to believe that Ralph was a terrible owner. He ran my Bills and the stadium I worshipped was named after him, but it all started making sense.
I started thinking about Antoine Winfield, Pat Williams, and Jason Peters leaving our organizations after earning paydays they would never get from Buffalo. Then that made me remember every Cornell Green, Larry Tripplet, and Matt Bowen. Seriously go back and look at Buffalo's free agent signings over the last five seasons. One word came to mind after I reviewed each one: Pathetic. Even T.O., which was a just a desperate maneuver from Russ Brandon to sell tickets and jerseys.
Sorry if I sound like a pissed off, moody teenager who isn't getting his way, but I've had enough. I'm getting older and I'm convinced that every Bills game from 1997-2008 took at least one month off my life. I'll still be there on September 11th, ready to cheer for the Buffalo Bills and hope for the future, but I'm doing it a lot more cautiously and with much more indifference after a loss. It sucks. I kind of miss the old days when I didn't care that they were 6-10 and there was always hope for the next year, but I just don't have it in me anymore. For instance, me four years ago would be super optimistic about the way Buffalo finished the second half of last season, maybe even talking about the playoffs (cue Jim Mora). I am no where near that now. I haven't given up, but I need to see consistency and a real passion from ownership to save this franchise before I'm going to put in the same effort anymore.
I'll be a Bills fan for life. That is a fact. I will never change allegiances or totally walk away from football. Does everything else I wrote hurt my "fandom"? Maybe. I'm past the point where I care what others think about my level of fan dedication. I'll watch every game through the bitter end, but don't expect me to get too fired up if C.J. Spiller has one break out game or Marcell Dareus has a monster rookie year. The entire franchise has to do a lot more than that to get that mid-2000's love back. But dear God I sure hope they do because there is nothing like cheering on a franchise that is doing everything in it's power to win and make fans Happy. *Cough Cough* Buffalo Sabres *Cough* Terry Pegula *Cough Cough*
I was at this game with my father. I will never forget it. This is what Buffalo Bills fans need. This what they deserve.