I thought about not using the above image. I thought about not discussing Colin Kaepernick's protests. I thought about not writing anything at all. I think a lot about lots of stuff, most of which is trivial, but this feels important. The following are my thoughts on this and no one else's.
Gun violence is bad. Police brutality is bad. Racism is bad. I know, I know. I'm really going out on a limb here. These are things that many young Americans believe. Kaepernick is sharing this same belief. That is why Kaepernick is taking a knee during the national anthem. Not because he hates cops or America. Because he knows they can be better and he wants us to talk about it. The fact that he is willing to jeopardize his career and his personal safety to do something that he believes will improve this country for his fellow man is brave and commendable.
What gets tricky is when beliefs clash with symbols. The American Flag is a symbol. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a symbol. What they represent and how they make you feel is entirely yours and yours alone. You may know a great many people who feel similarly to you, but no one can possibly feel EXACTLY the same way that you do when they look at the stars and stripes and hear the words of our nation’s anthem. Your idea of these symbols and how they represent America can be completely different from someone else’s idea. And that’s ok. THAT idea is what this country was founded on. That two disparate sides can find a way to compromise and coexist for the betterment of all.
I grew up in Buffalo, NY, in a middle-class white family with all the perks and #priveleges that entails. I have no idea what it must feel like for an African-American to see yet another story of an unarmed black man being gunned down in the streets. No one in my immediate or extended family has ever served in the military or policed the streets of a city, county, or state. I don’t know what that sacrifice makes you feel when you look at the Stars & Stripes and listen to the story of conflict that symbol survived. But to me, that song and that flag and the country that it represents is an idea that we are constantly, all of us, striving to be better. That no matter our disagreements and our struggles, we will listen to each other and work together and make compromises and keep trying. Our nation is not now, nor has it ever been, perfect. But as long as people are willing to talk to one another, we’ll keep improving. It’s only when we ignore each other and make our neighbors out to be enemies that we lose what makes us special.
I don't like bringing politics into this environment. I'm sure it's not why you come here. I'm guessing Colin Kaepernick feels the same way. I'm sure he'd like nothing more than to not have to do this anymore. It'd be easier not to do it. But some things are worth the struggle. Some things have to be said.
1) Lorenzo Alexander
Who doesn't love an undrafted linebacker who's played on 5 different teams over the course of 10 years only to suddenly find great success with a team that believes in him? If you just said me, stop rooting for this team. Leave and never come back.
I'll be the first to admit. We’ve seen this before. Teams of our ilk have seen more “promising” starts to the season.
Through five weeks, there is only one undefeated team in football and they play in the other conference. Which is an overly complicated way of saying the Bills are tied for second place in their own conference. There’s no way of knowing whether or not our recent success is sustainable. The things listed above are exciting and for this week, at least, are a reasonable expectation. But aside from the Cleveland Browns in Week 15 (and barring injuries to key players), this is the weakest opponent we’ll face for the rest of the season. Is it fair to think the Bills can keep this up?
DAMN RIGHT IT IS, YOU DOUBTER! I’ve been circling the wagons since before the season started and what has happened so far has only increased my certainty that… good God… the Ryan brothers are going to give us our first trip to the postseason since Shoeless Rob Johnson.
Could this all fall apart in the coming weeks? Of course it could. Particularly an offense relying on a largely unproven and unpredictable receiving corps. But the Bills just won 3 in a row. They might win 4 in a row. They really could win FIVE in a row. If you’re not raising your expectations at this stage in the season, with this opponent coming up, then you may as well just check back on New Year’s Eve to see if that last game is worth watching. Regardless of how well you thought the Bills would do this year, they’ve shown us something these last few weeks that is worthy of praise. Perhaps I’m wrong and maybe this season will end with the Ryans getting matching pink slips. But as of now, they’ve won 3 straight for the first time in Rex’s tenure and there’s little reason to believe that number is going to stop there.
THREE THINGS TO BE TERRIFIED OF:
1 ) Playing Down To Our Opponent
Alright… setting the sunny side of life aside for a moment, this would be a classic Bills loss if they manage to bungle this opportunity to go 4-2. But no one, not me, not anyone, would be shocked. Far too many times we’ve seen the Bills pull off impressive, unexpected victories against talented opponents, only to turn around a lay a stinker against a team hoping for a high draft slot. And in this department, the Niners clearly qualify.
It’s amazing to me that Jed York & Trent Baalke haven’t caught more flak for the way they poisoned a team that was in the Super Bowl four years ago. Granted, he’s garnered his fair share. But if Jerry Jones or Dan Snyder had been the culprit, it’d be the biggest joke in football for years. But Baalke does it out by the bay and everyone just seemed to shrug and say, “Oh, the Niners are a joke again? Ok.”
Remember this the next time you’re talking about Doug Whaley & the Pegulas. It could be much, much worse.
2) Colin Kaepernick
This is a dangerous combination.
It still doesn’t feel like that long ago that we were watching Kaepernick & Russell Wilson battling for supremacy of the NFC and thinking, “We’ll see this play out for years.” Turns out it was basically 3. But given the fact that he just restructured his shitty contract into a worse one just so he can leave at the end of this season tells you that he's looking to prove that his career's not over.
3) The Sabres
I mean, I can't with this team. Why can't we have nice things? WHY, GOD? WHYYYYYYY!?
UM... SHOULD YOU HATE THEM?
I really can't make up my mind this week. Are they likable or unlikable? Can you be empathetic or should you enjoy the schadenfreude?
They were the original Indianapolis Colts. They were blessed with one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. And when his powers finally started to slip, they let him leave town and installed their new one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. Hard not to be a little bitter about that.
Then this happened...
After that, they became like pretty much any other midlevel franchise, albeit in a large market. Success here, failure there, but overall, not a lot to brag about.
Their ownership completely bungled a championship caliber team and moved the team an hour away from the city to milk the city for more money, so I kind of want to feel bad for the fans. But then I remember that someone routinely gets stabbed outside a game in San Francisco, sooo... maybe they don't have the greatest fans.
I'm gonna go ahead and say it's ok to hate them because their GM is using Trent Dilfer as his bullhorn to yell at Kaepernick which is cowardly nonsense, so go fuck yourself Mr. Baalke. Life handed you one of the best football minds of this generation and you promptly screwed it up so bad that practically half the team quit.
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Niners 14, Bills 31