I despise being right. Particularly so when the manner in which I was right was the result of (a) self-protective pessimism (that shit actually does work no matter what Apologist says; PSA that he's a delightful idiot), and (b) everything that was supposed to be good about the godforsaken syrup-less pancakes of a Bills team was actually bad whilst the things that were supposed to be bad were actually completely decent.
Losing a game like yesterday's - a game that was completely within reach due to a pretty poor opponent on the other side of the ball - is a thing that this particular football club does very well. Not just the football club owned by the Pegulas; the club in the midst of some big PR effort to convince the fans that the sale of the team acted as some sort of metaphysical squeegee, wiping the grime of the playoff drought from our collective dashboard; the club, that we're told, was resetting the Drought Clock to zero when Terry and Kim assumed full control, that made splashes with coaching hires and shake ups and all of it. Losing a game like they lost yesterday is quintessentially Bills, hearkening back to Gregggggg Williams and Jauron and Gailey and Marrone and, yes, everything we know about Rex Fucking Ryan. All the highly polished viral videos and memes and stellar tweets and hope and whatever else this team is selling cannot change the fact that the Buffalo Bills traveled to Baltimore and laid the same kind of turd they've been laying under every coach, every GM, and both owners since I was in college and drinking a volume of alcohol that ensured I wouldn't notice for a few years.
Make no mistake about it: the loss yesterday, the way they lost yesterday, puts a lie to everything we've been told for the last few months and, yes, since the Pegulas took over.
Does that sound harsh? Good.
Engendering hope among a fanbase is certainly part of the job of running a football team, and when you're looking at a 16 year shit sandwich that isn't even old enough to have watched MTV when it was still pretty ok, there's a portion of that hope-farming that will always be a risk. Talking meekly about your chances doesn't help put butts in the seats, and talking big about your chances risks that those seats will be chock-full of butts and assholes screaming for your head when that big talk blows up in your face.
The Bills don't owe us anything, in any event. Their promises of wins and success and progress didn't form some sacred contract no matter how much we'd like to take their chump asses to court and air out the putrid crotch rot of their failures. That's not how this works, nor should it be. Thing is, neither do we owe them - not Rex not Sammy not Roman not Tyrod not Shady not Terry not Kim and certainly not Russ "Burns When He Pees" Brandon - the kind of allegiances that would be required to look at a game like yesterday and declare "it's just the first game, they have time to turn it around." It doesn't matter that the team is likable, it doesn't matter that there is talent arguably waiting to be uncorked and powerbombed onto the NFL. I mean, God bless you if that's where your head it at; I'm incredibly jealous and interested in the xanax you've been pilfering from [insert personal relationship here].
Of course they have time to turn it around. And of course I have a shot at sitting on the Supreme Court later in my career. Possibilities are just that, and they're not doing it for me anymore. I'm simply not there. "It's just the first game" implicitly disregards what this team has specifically shown us, both yesterday and myriad times prior, and from an outsider's perspective there's just no evidence that this particular club - these players, these coaches, these executives and managers - have the stuff to fix what ails it.
Could I be wrong? Sure. Absolutely. I'd be thrilled if I turn out to be a ball of acid reflux and hyperbole (both true) that doesn't know shit about shit (likely true). I'd be thrilled to look back at this pessimism and laugh at how silly it all was because just around the corner was the Big Turnaround that we were all promised. Things change, and I'm only seeing the surface of the product; if this was just a bad game on the road to a winning season, great, sangrias for everyone. I'm the guy the kept forgetting the game was still happening every time I got up from my laptop to snag another beer and inevitably started chatting with the horde of Giants fans in my buddy's backyard; I have no claim to a higher plane of understanding on this, though if you need to discuss comparative religion or financial markets while watching me roll a cigarette, I got you.
But, after watching the Bills' final drive, positioned to snatch a win against a Ravens team that had basically been a rotting drainpipe on offense for the entire game, only to see them fizzle in the exact same way as every team that's come before them? We really buying their hope this week? Get the fuck out of here. Sure, they'll snag some impressive wins and they might even do it soon. That's what they do in between shooting themselves in the foot for the millionth time. This team once again, directly and with blessed immediacy, made it impossible to view them through any lens than the same one we started using sometime between Music City and Sammy's drop. At a certain point this club has to stop simply restarting the Effort Train with moves that have amounted to little else than shuffling the chairs on the deck of the Titanic, only way sadder. At a certain point, who the fuck knows when, someone at this club has to make themselves accountable for the kinds of games like yesterday; games that reveal scant character among the players and the coaches, and leave fans marveling at the disconnect between ambition and production out of One Bills Drive.
Games that all the PR in the world can't wipe clean.