Music by Avalanches, streaming below, iTunes subscription through the button below that, download here or here, RSS subscribers hit here.
The boys are back. In this episode, with a delayed release due to Dubs being equal parts overworked and forgetful, The Outlander, The Commander and The Barrister gather from their disparate locations outside of WNY to discuss, in large measure, the value in recognizing expat stories when we discuss the City of Good Neighbors. We also make bad jokes, curse a bunch and talk about beer, the Sabres and awful sports media, as per protocol.
Music by Avalanches, streaming below, iTunes subscription through the button below that, download here or here, RSS subscribers hit here.
I was ready to cry tonight. I've been readying myself for weeks. The Four Falls of Buffalo had been on the vague horizon for a while, and when the date and time were announced, defense mechanisms kicked in. Playful concessions of my likely emotions were placed in the public fora in plain view, taking up positions within the ranks among all the other hearts on all the other sleeves on all the other fans of the Buffalo Bills.
Public self-flagellation is something we do well. It's part of how we get by. It's part of why this blog exists.
Norwood's kick went up, the screen cut to some graphic or another, and somewhere in the subsequent moments, looking at the word "Bills" etched across the back of #12 as he leaned out and looked at our Falls, I knew that tears wouldn't be forthcoming. As much as I knew I might actually need a decent weep, and as much as I knew how much said weeping would be entirely justified by the catharsis of sitting through a documentary about the "what ifs" surrounding the best sports franchise I may ever align myself with in this lifetime, the catharsis didn't ask me for tears. It asked me for joy.
It asked me to accept the simple truth that there is nothing I have liked as long and as hard than the simple fact of being a fan of the Buffalo Bills and that this simple truth is not just ok - it's a fucking blessing.
It's no secret that the team has been absolutely, unmistakably wretched for far longer than it was ever successful during my life as a fan, nor is it an original take. That wretchedness is the primary narrative of the 21st century for this particular sports team, and the corresponding narrative of a fan base waiting for a genuine shot to cheer for a contender is a close second.
Those narratives are full of unfuckwithable truth, so this is by no means intended to dismiss them from our consciousness, but there is nothing that says we must be inexorably defined by them. We need not adopt them wholesale, as our own.
"Being a Buffalo Bills fan really isn't being a fan, it's a way of life. It represents people who honestly believe that against all the odds, against some of the worst weather imaginable, they have a magnificent life that they're proud of." - Tim Russert
Each of us came to this team in our own way, whether born into it or moved into it married into it or cheered into later in life, and something that gets muddled in the belief that Buffalo Bills football is part and parcel to life in the community of Western New York is that we still chose this. We, together in a chorus of thousands voices with varying degrees of optimism and skepticism, with varying degrees of knowledge and historical investment, with varying degrees of time and resources, chose to make this team part of our lives. We made this choice not out of expectation of success or the promise of championships but out of an unshakeable belief in ourselves, each other, our city.
It may not be the most artful way to express this belief, but it's packed with that meaning and that big picture belief all the same.
We can always choose - to watch or ignore, to invest or divest, to believe or bemoan, to hang our hat on a community of fans that sustains itself with joy and passion and Canadian whisky or to balk at a franchise historically and consistently incapable of putting this motherfucking jigsaw puzzle together.
This team may have shot itself in the foot too many times this season, and it still may blow up in our faces, but in the meantime, they're still very much in the playoff race with four games left and a squad that has given us something to hope for if we so choose. They have hated municipal rival Philadelphia on the docket and a winnable game for every Sunday until January 3rd. If it all falls apart, as it likely will, it'll always be ok. It'll always still be the thing many of us have liked the longest and the most, and that's not nothing.
Let's have some fun. That's what we do best.
Oh beeteedubs, I've been drinking.
Here we are. I dohwanna.
That said, the certainty of it all, a little less than twelve hours away from inevitable defeat and numbing heartbreak, may be the only bright side we have. Dare not hope because why fucking bother, right mom?
Existential crises put aside for a moment, I fucking hate the New England Patriots all the fucking same, and so do you. I hate their fans and their fans' stupid faces and their fans' stupid sense of superiority at having lucked into the best team in the modern NFL despite being a wretched collection of human beings that couldn't be bothered to show up for the better part of two decades when the team was trash with a side of cock chowdah. I hate all these godforsaken southern and central Mass accents and the fact that everyone comes from a town that makes you feel instantly stupider when you say it out loud. I hate their love of shitty Dunkin Donuts coffee and their claim to progressive social policies despite the fact that their sports teams were all basically governed under Jim Crow until Jimmy Carter was elected. I hate their interstate and their awful drivers and their stupid fucking bumper stickers and their insistence on showing up to MetLife for a Jets/Bills games shrouded in a jersey bearing the number of the biggest asshole who ever played the game so goddamn well. I hate how great this fucking team is and remains, against all odds, and how even when the NFL has them dead-to-rights on one thing or another, they skate by because the only law firm with more idiot lawyers than Paul Cambria's office is whoever the NFL hires to do their legal work. I hate how this fucking team and their fucking fans walk through football season like they own the place because - and this is what I hate the most - they fucking do. They've carved the Patriot Way out of a amalgamation of Boston Creme Donuts, liberal arts degrees, shitty beer, terrible grammar and poor personal hygiene, and the fact that it has happened to work is so fucking maddening I cannot stand it. It's not that they're trash or that they cheat (though they do enough) or that I think they're not that great. It's that THEY ARE THAT GREAT AND MORE.
They're the team that makes me more fucking butthurt than any team in any sport, and here we are.
Again, I dohwanna.
THREE THINGS TO BE TERRIFIED OF:
1. Gronk. Obviously. 100%. The Bills have not had an answer for this guy ever. Edelman being out is largely irrelevant because we still have no answer for the primary weapon at Tommy's disposal. Gronk will score a million points and I will smoke a million weed, wait what?
2. A Quasi-Theocratic Hyper-Nationalist State under Donald Trump. This scares me way more than the Patriots so I figure it's best to confront this one head on. TERRIFYING, fam.
3. Dying alone. Think about it.
THREE THINGS TO ACCEPT WITH OPEN, LOVING ARMS:
1. That new Missy Elliot video. Shit is fire. There are a lot of hip hop acts from my younger years getting a reboot these days and that's a fantastic thing. Missy, Black Star, Tribe was just on Fallon. 19 year old me is fat, an idiot, and also high as shit right now, but also pretty pumped.
2. Family. Christ, y'all. It's Thanksgiving this week. That's insane and also pretty rad. Drink some whiskey, eat some fowl and some pies, and maybe try to convince your mom to smoke a joint with you. Don't think too much about the Bills.
3. On the off-chance that the Bills win, well, we'll all feel better than we have in months. Don't worry that this is sad and extremely pathetic. Roll with it. Just don't get too blue if the result goes as it's likely to go ... lotta season left for the Bills to build us back up and then lose in Week 17, missing out on the Wild Card on a tiebreaker. Talk about silver linings.
DRINK OF THE WEEK:
This ish just won Whisky of the Year in the Whisky Bible's ranking and I intend to find and drink a considerable amount of it between Thursday and Sunday morning. Good job, Canada. Your whisky is tasty AF and so is your new Prime Minister. Me-ow.
Apropos of Nothing:
Pats 46, Bills 17.
This is not going to be pretty, so least we can do is have a nice little evening with a hoppy beer or six at our side, a dutch rolled for halftime sadz, and knowledge that it'll all be over soon at the ready.
"I'm the warrior chief. I'm the merciless god of anything that stirs in my universe. You fuck with me, and you will suffer my wrath." - A Week 3 Recap - Bills at Dolphins
UPDATE: We recorded a carcast en route to the bar to watch the game and Scizz just sent me the audio file from his phone so here it is! Bonus points for listeners who can decipher what's playing on my car radio at any given moment.
That was a fucking splendid afternoon of Buffalo Bills football we got yesterday. Unfuckingreal.
With a season as short as that of the NFL, generally a full week between games, every outing becomes a narrative-guiding metric even if we know it shouldn’t be. We should be able to relax and remain patient while we wait for a more reasonable sample size to come in for evaluation; we should be able to wait to see just how successful our particular squad is and, perhaps even more crucially, how good or awful the opponent really is, before putting much stock into any one week’s result. The Week 1 win against the Colts seems a little less impressive given how poor they’ve looked since; last week’s loss to the Patriots looks a little more forgivable now that we’ve seen another week wherein they dismantled their opposition (albeit to the most dismantle-able team in the league); and now yesterday’s win, well, it is both heartening and devoid of meaning given how good the Bills looked and how bad the Dolphins have been in their three games.
So, what to make of it? The sample size went up a game, the Rex Ryan-led Bills showed us something new by bouncing back from a brutal day and parlaying their fourth quarter would-be heroics into a massively dominant afternoon against a division rival, and the Dolphins are a dog shit football team that most halfway decent teams should be able to beat. So the Bills are at least halfway decent. Maybe even pretty good since they won by thirty. Maybe stacked with enough talent both on the field and on the sidelines that they can make a true run at a Wild Card. Predictions are dumb in this sport, we’re still talking about less than a quarter of the season in terms of available data, and I’m most certainly wrong due to any combination of the following factors:
Onto the recap!
Annnnnnnnnnd, we're here. Yet another proctologist's appointment appearing before our eyes despite our firm belief that, no, this can't be right, we actually scheduled a pleasant $45 Chinatown rubdown, what the fuck happened?.
As if it was ever going to be different.
We Bills fans love storybook scenarios. Of course they always end up falling apart in a fiery blaze before our increasingly weary eyes, but we love them all the same. We love wins, but we won't be buying those wins dinner and some over-priced gelato unless the wins follow a pre-selected script and satisfy our need for that story at the same time they toss another game in the W column. Sometimes I wonder whether the win is secondary to the story; whether we like the story because we can live it out for a full week before kickoff and we can enjoy that week without remorse, regardless of outcome. Whether we like it most because it's more within our control; because we can live five or six days with the agency that we so lack when it actually comes time for Sunday afternoon.
Last week was one of those weeks - a week where fans were so convinced that the corner has been turned and is firmly in our rear view, where fans got the national media on board and some jamoke that even the #BillsMafia couldn't stand raised eight grand and got Guinness in the house because we weren't just convinced of our team's forthcoming success, but also of our own unflappable superiority as a gathered mass of frantic noise and endless, unceasing devotion.
And, of course, yesterday was one of those games - a game that stuck to the script for only a few fleeting minutes, that cultivated hope only briefly, and that left us to watch with bloodshot eyes that familiar dance of fire and metal and anger and fat, drunk men passing out at their seats as the Hindenburg of our hubris came crashing down, exploding the narrative for all the world to see.
The fact that we haven't realized that the only plausible story when this team of ours plays a Belichick-coached, Brady-quarterbacked Patriots team is a story of death and destruction is a curious bit of trivia destined to be the topic of a short segment in the History Channel's series Sports: The Lower Dose Opiate of the People, which is reportedly set for production in 2025.
Anything good we can take from the game gets snatched up and re-purposed for this week's story. Anything good we can take from the game had little utility to the game itself, so we recycle and reuse and manufacture hope that our Bills can reduce their unshakable, ongoing propensity for moments of moral victories and little else.
So, shall we?
"And you think life takes more than it gives, but not today. Today it's giving us something. It is giving us a chance ... to give a shit." - A Week 1 Feelings Recap - Bills vs. Colts
Sometimes it's really hard, inexplicably hard, to tell whether a moment in our lives really feels different than the ones that came before it, or whether we just want to believe it does for sanity's sake; whether it feels different because of objective facts available to us, or because our subjectivity refracts the available facts to such an extent that we can't help but believe; whether, right here right now, this past Sunday and the forthcoming autumn of 2015 was and is and will be actually, really, truly, objectively different than the morass of turd we've waded through this millennium, or whether we've simply begun yet another another revival of the one-act play we've written in the collective think tank of Bills fans incapable of not simply squeezing the most fun out of whatever it is we got.
We've been here before, surely, but the past informs our present and while it may be foolish to think too seriously about how this feels different than other teams and other hot starts to a season, here we are on a September Monday with a palpable sense that a change is gonna come. Indeed, it already has. - Me, September 15, 2014
We've been here before. Or at least somewhere close enough that a healthy serving of worry isn't necessarily unreasonable.
Alas. I always go the other way when it's September.
Objectively, we have a lot of facts available to us that can't be dismissed. The team's ownership is now vested in a new family with vision and resources that haven't been available to the club, well, ever. Their ownership was enabled by one last redeeming act of the club's previous owner, a man so entrenched in days-gone-by that we could not escape the fact that our Bills were always going to be a dozen steps behind as the NFL modernized into its current form of capitalist, monolith juggernaut; a man whose last mic drop was to ensure the Bills stayed in Buffalo and the wealth gleaned from the team's sale would be charitable in its purpose.
Those facts aside, we remain in a place all-too-familiar: a place of hope without complete reassurance; with optimism based on small sample sizes; with the feeling of progress and the belief in enough rain to end the godforsaken drought we've had. All of it so fucking familiar and very possibly driven more by our persistent need for the sensation of belief than the team's actual capacity to sustain it.
Then again, maybe not.
Belief ran deep in Orchard Park on Sunday. It was infectious and inescapable, thriving in the early-morning tailgates, reunions with old friends, hugs and high fives and, thankfully, in the stadium itself. It was a feeling like nothing I've felt in years, fuck, like nothing I've dared allow myself to feel.
Holy shit was that belief rewarded.
THINGS I LIKED:
In this slightly (read: very) belated publication of the Buffalo sports podcast you love to hate, we give you a glimpse into the week the was 8 days ago - before James Harrison called his sons entitled pussies, before the Bills signed IK and Tyrod Taylor became a thing, before Paul Cambria stormed Bedenko's Facebook page and gave us a glimpse of the best defense attorney talent Buffalo has to offer. 'Twas a simpler time.
It's another long one. Take breaks if you need to, but come back so we can finish the job. It's Paul Olczak's first CrapTastiCast, after all, and we wanted to treat him right.
Music by way of The Jambrones, OK Go, EXGF, Disclosure, and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. Some good, good shit in the episode, y'all.
You can streamline this aural methadone below, download here or here. RSS subscription is this, and iTunes button is below and always on the right column because branding. This and all our myriad podcast offerings are generally cataloged in the handy Deeg Podcast Industries tab above our altogether depressing site banner above.
I once wrote a bit about space and place, the sacredness of a particular intersection of latitudes and longitudes, a characterization bestowed and bequeathed through the grace which accompanies memories both shared and personal. This is what we’re all about, why we love home – no matter how the definition shifts and varies; why we love a place we may have visited rarely or even just once or even never. Things occurred, people met and interacted and created while walking their individual journeys, and the place was transformed. *Is* transformed.
I haven’t been to The Ralph in more than a decade. I KNOW.
Time be damned, it has never stopped feeling like home. One of my many, admittedly. Funny for a place I’ve probably spent less than 50 hours in, plus another 150 or so immediately outside, plus another thousand or so from afar, linked by crazy ass technology and an unshakable, unmistakable hope in my gut. It's both a tragic and beloved part of the identity I have forged.
My first visit to Ralph Wilson Stadium was long before it was renamed, but I couldn’t tell you the year. I think it was during the Super Bowl years, but I can’t be sure because my dad never cared about these things as much as I came to. It was cold, but we felt warm. December, I think. Broncos, maybe?
It was one of the first moments Buffalo felt like home for me; a moment I can reach out and touch in my memory and recall a sensation I had missed since moving from Western Massachusetts in ’88, and maybe even a sensation I never even felt then. The kind of feeling you don’t know you needed until you have it, thereafter never really feeling like you can do without it.
Buffalo was changed, then, for me. It didn’t have to be the place I simply was, distant from a place I had called mine, but transitioned into something far better. When you’re a pretty overweight 11 year old with a punchable face and a heart set on feeling included in a place, nothing better than some football, hugs, and high-fives to ensure you do.
That door to calling Buffalo home having been opened, it was all downhill to feeling entirely rooted, I suppose.
As you know, those roots never really break for those of us lucky/cursed enough to call Buffalo home. A combination of equal parts pride and defensiveness settle together and the end product is that we heartily and voraciously love/hate the place we say we’re from. And, for so many of us that have left and feel a constant dull pain of regret as we pine for the eventual return, the act of gathering on Sundays, whether at the games or at our little worldwide pockets of Buffalo that try to replicate the experience, The Ralph remains a weird, vomit-stained, loud and offensive and dangerous beacon of that feeling of home. It’s entirely inappropriate for such a symbol, but it’s what we've got and I’m done fighting the altogether fucking obvious.
It’s where we gather and cheer and display our ridiculous selves to the world in a common refrain wherein we shout our City’s pride in tri-pl-et until we can't anymore. It’s absurd and it’s beautiful and there’s little else in the world that makes me feel the same.
Nearly 11 years in the bag, 11 years of trying to replicate what I miss at bars or away days or my living room, I get to go back in just about 35 days. I get to come home.
Let’s Go Buff-a-lo.
Y'all, we recorded this four nights ago but then a whole hit load of life happened and fuck you for asking. But seriously. Work, a mass of yard work, summer hangouts and loads of Lagunitas chased by spliffs. Here we are.
It's the offseason of most things we talked about so nothing is all that out-of-date apart from some baseball talk - the Mets swept those Nationals shut the front door. Delightful. Life filled with delight.
Podcast featuring rants about Russ Brandon, Tom Brady, born-again Bills fans, Uber-less Buffalo, our plans for Week 1 tailgates and a few other things that I can't remember since I haven't actually listened to this and just hastily tossed in some musical selections without worrying about the propriety of taking on American Methodists, among others.
Good to be back, kids.
Music by way of Bleachers, Oddisee, Fitz and the Tantrums, and Priory.
Download here or here. RSS here. iTunes below and a streaming boxey box below that. Old podcasts, and there are a bunch of them, available at deargodwhyussports.libsyn.com or the Deeg Podcast Industries tab at the top banner. Gooey gooey aural goodness.
I still can't really fathom why anyone would think it a good idea to listen to anything I think or say or write ever, much less think it has any redeeming qualities, nor want to give me a platform to signal boost the things I think and say out to a broader audience - for instance, everyone who listens to the Howard Simon Show on WGR550. BUT PEOPLE DO AND I AM AN EXPERT HUMBLEBRAGGER AS WELL AS LEGAL THINKER ta-daaaaaaaaaaa. Here we are.
Yesterday, Tom Brady's suspension was upheld by the hearing officer that heard his appeal under Article 46, Section 2 of the NFL/NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, the document that generally defines the exclusive process by which a player may substantively appeal discipline assessed by the league. The hearing officer, as is obvious from everything you've already seen on the webs, was Commissioner Roger Goodell, esteemed douchebag and villain of any and all things. A man so entirely deplorable that a part of me wanted Donald Trump to buy the Bills - I KNOW! A means to an end, solely - so he could start throwing non-stop, outrageous, totally offensive and gratifying shade at Goodell's smug fucking face and give us Bills fans something to cheer for past Week 6, picking up the slack since we don't write here much anymore and thus aren't throwing as much of that shade as we ought. Goodell served as hearing officer, in his discretion, through the authority to do so under the CBA.
What was more awesome about what went down yesterday was that we learned Tom Brady, after having notice of the NFL's desire to inspect his cell phone and/or certain contents of the phone to the extent they were related to the NFL's request for communications concerning ball pressure and the like, destroyed his phone. Like, either the day he was interviewed by Ted Wells or the day before. I mean, Tom didn't actually do it. He had an assistant carry out his bidding as millionaires are want to do. He said he always destroyed his phones when he got a new one, which was pretty often because reasons and also the reality of his relationship with consumer goods closely resembling my relationship with hamburgers - the faster you blow through one, the faster you can feel good about getting a new one.
Except, nope. The phone BEFORE this one that he destroyed in March? He didn't destroy that. Because, errrr, shut up, Richard. I mean, he's totes being honest, guys, I mean look at his smile and his spiral and that wife. She is pretty and stuff.
No one is disputing that this is what went down. No one.
The NFL thought it mighty suspicious of him to destroy the phone on the day of the Wells interview, and then to come up with an excuse belied by the fact that he clearly didn't always destroy his phones, not always. Of course, when the NFL found it suspicious, I mean Goodell, a guy who couldn't love Brady more even if Tommy was made exclusively of the tears of Junior Seau's family. A guy who couldn't love the owner of Brady's football club more even if Robert Kraft was made exclusively of the kinetic energy created by the sanctimony of billionaires chastising what grown men do in between seasons of consistent head traumas. What I'm saying is that Goodell loves Junior Seau's family's tears and he LOVES billionaire sanctimony, but he loves Brady and Kraft more. These guys are bae, or something.
Dammit. I'm so white.
Anyway, this happened, an internet full of hot takes arose, and I couldn't help but enter the mix. I have a problem with entering the mix and not, you know, refraining. I also know a little something about something, certainly more than I can learn from a Jay Z song - though that didn't stop me from paraphrasing '99 Problems' on the NY Bar Exam's essay section - so I tweeted a bunch, like self-important members of the Buffalo Bloggerati are want to do. I hit some nerves, some people DM'd me calling me a fag (true story, there was one guy), and some people liked it. I don't get it either. My twitter feed is here. Some of the good bits are below.
Is There Any Coming Back? The 2017-18 Sabres Postmortem by The Outlander
A Cathartic Bomb Cyclone of Joy by The Outlander
When we were certain they wouldn't, they suddenly did, by The Barrister
A Holiday Moon Shot, by The Outlander
Oh hi .... <cracks knuckles> ... I'm back on my bullshit again. 716sports.blog? Let's dance, fucko., by The Barrister
The Scarcity of Belief in a Forest of Fierce Loyalty, by The Barrister
Dance Around the Flames- A 2017-18 Sabres Preview, by The Outlander
Please, if you would, reset the 'Days since last DGWU Sports Post' counter back to zero? Cheers, by The Barrister
Black & Blue & Gold
Buffalo Sabres Nation
Die By The Blade
The Goose's Roost