I am making a pact to not spend more than twenty minutes on putting this quick ragestorm of a post together because, honestly, the Buffalo Bills can go die in a fire for all I care. (Not really please don't move the team I love them inexplicably oh God)
This morning, our 5-7 Buffalo Bills were given a gift. Russel Salvatore, WNY Meat King, agreed to purchase all remaining tickets for the Bills' remaining home games. Apparently, after just one blackout this season, Bills fans are getting bailed out of having to find illegal streams online or listen on the radio or ignore altogether, and the Bills are being bailed out of an ongoing PR nightmare - having to answer questions about ticket sales and TV blackouts without discussing, too much, the underachieving and disappointing team of elephants in the room.
Except, of course, on most weeks, the Buffalo Bills.
Let me preface my anger on this point by expressing good feelings for Mr. Salvatore, though his good deed does little to impact my life living outside of WNY's blackout zone. And, to the extent that these extra tickets are given away and a few thousand people that otherwise would have stayed home make it to the game, I have no gripe.
Nevertheless, the fact that this even has to be done is, and should be, an embarrassment. Yet, those Buffalo Bills are apparently the poorly wrapped and overpriced gift that keeps on giving.
Even if you want to believe that this is technically an accurate way to describe what happened - personally, I think it's shady since it implies that people actually bought the tickets with the intention of going, while it's likely that Salvatore will have a tough time giving away his (maybe tens of) thousands of tickets to people who actually want to sit in the cold and watch a tire fire that produces absolutely no heat - the concept of putting this news over a picture of the Ralph as some sort of promotional material, and a picture of the Ralph with plenty of embarrassingly empty seats, is a bold and stupendously stupid move. Maybe not as stupid as throwing at the end of the Titans game or refusing to kick a FG indoors in Indy or acquiring Tarvaris Jackson with absolutely no intention of dressing him for games, but still stupid nonetheless.
A sellout connotes great atmosphere. It connotes a fan base rallied behind a team despite potentially poor weather conditions. It connotes a team actually competent enough to keep one of the most devoted fan bases in the NFL interested in attending the country's most popular league for the lowest ticket prices in that league.
None of these things are true about the Bills' sellouts for the rest of this year, though. The atmosphere will be good at these games, I'm sure, but not like it was in the first half of Week 4 against the Pats, back when fans had hope and the place was actually full. The fan base is still devoted, but we're not rallied behind the team - we want change, quickly. Because, in the end, this team is far from competent.
The Bills have, over the past few weeks, tried to sell the idea that weather, rather than a shitty football team, is primarily to blame for the ticket sales problems that bother the Bills annually. No one with a head on their shoulders is really buying that pitch - well, some of the meathead contingents of the #BillsMafia probably are, I guess - since the obvious answer is that the team is bad and people don't love the idea of spending money to go see a bad team. Of course, admitting that this is the fundamental problem would force Bills' CEO Russ Brandon to admit that big changes need to be made to fix such a bad team. Hardly a crazy idea for those of us watching and scratching our heads over what could have been this season, but when the wife of the owner is out stumping for the coach and GM, and when the Bills' PR machine is looking to convince us that a framework for success is there, objective evidence be damned, it's no surprise that the Bills would now slip us the "it's a sellout!" line while they ignore the obvious solutions for this team and hope we all look the other way.
No, Mr. Brandon, the team is not doing everything in its power. Stop saying so.
So, Bills fans, don't celebrate this with the team. Thank Mr. Salvatore with all your heart (though, seriously, if you're that pumped about watching the Bills and Rams on TV this weekend, you may need a new hobby or two... just like I do), but keep watching our Buffalo Bills with a skeptical eye. From the looks of it, nothing is getting better any time soon and the guys involved aren't the least bit interested in changing that.
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