At the outset, I make no promises. I talk no big game about this being a grand reboot of this blessedly sardonic weblog (it would make it, what? four or five of those now?). My firm is entering a busy period this fall, I'm working 60 hour weeks if I'm lucky, my only child just started Kindergarten to a cascade of tears and apprehension and then, relieved, endless excitement. I was having beers with Apologist sometime back, sweltering heat enveloping us as we threw some Skeeball on the roof of a Manhattan craft beer bar, the sound of bus traffic from Port Authority interrupting our conversation in the spirit of my coworker who never shuts up ever, and we got to talking about this site in the way we often do when we have beers in each other's company. This site, some eight years old, home to hot takes and aggrieved takes and over-emotional takes and disproportionate takes, has become not a little bit like your favorite shirt you keep forgetting in the back of a drawer, squished back by newer additions to your reckless excuse for a wardrobe. You keep finding it every fall, or ever mild early spring, or some other time altogether, and you're reminded of how great it is, how much you missed it, how much your affection for it is shaped by the fact that it keeps getting lost in the messy rubble of your life. Sam and I talked about the site with the kind of brash optimism, not for the teams we follow of course, but for what we might do with it, what we might choose to make of it in this the 18th year of our drought.
And to that, I don't know. Maybe it will remain frequently silent, the takes reserved for twitter and bars, the priorities of our ever-demanding lives taking their right and good place at the top of our respective to-do lists. Shit, I hope that remains the case for an expanding and contracting crew of writers with fiancees and wives and kids and hopes for kids and jobs and hopes for better jobs.
Today, though, I suppose the itch has gotten me. The Friday night before a Bills season opener can do that. Still.
Make no mistake about it, though - the Bills are going to be bad. Terribly bad. I may watch one full game this year and I doubt it'll be this Sunday's. If I watch more, it's likely I'll be an intolerable fucker on twitter, will mock those fans publicly displaying glimmers of hope, will get drunk enough to not feel feelings, and will remain blissfully empty of any real insight into why this team remains bad. At a certain point, you gotta throw your hands up and blame the football goods, blame Russ Brandon, blame Ralph and Terry and Kim and the Dougs and Gregg and Leodis and Buddy and Chan and fucking Thurman and #BillsMafia and hope and loyalty and literally everything and nothing. If the panacea to the Bills' problems was determinable, it would certainly have been discovered by professionals by now and not some overtired lawyer who rarely watches the full 4 quarters of any given game.
The Bills are going to be bad and they've been bad for literally as long as I can remember. Sure they were good when I was in grade school and in high school, sort of, but those memories are fictions in a real sense, reconstructed from box scores and snapshots of moments and guesses as to what I was probably thinking or feeling during some game or another. The memories are feelings at best; an allegiance to a past I knew was better than we deserved and better than we've gotten since; that allegiance substituting for any real recollection of what it was like to love a Bills team that actually loved us back.
This is a logical year to bail, in a way. A camo-cap-wearing, Troops-loving jabroni has roled into town to coach this bad football team, the GM tucks his polo shirts into gym shorts, we traded two great starters and got back mere opportunities at landing good players to replace them, we can see public financing for a downtown stadium on the horizon, our country is being assaulted by forces fascist, ecological, meteorological and apathetic alike, and Russ Brandon remains employed when justice demands he be pilloried. We should, each of us, bail. Fast. Maybe take Sunday afternoon painting classes, you know, the ones where you drink wine and pretend you could get paid to make art.
I wasn't born into being a Bills fan like so many of you. If my dad hadn't been offered a job with the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York when I was six, I'd probably be a Patriots fan now, a thought that plagues my thoughts way more often than I'd care to admit because, truly, it's disturbing to consider how much (more) of an asshole I would have grown up to be. This never came naturally to me. My parents, New England transplants turned Buffalo boosters, were never much into sports to begin with, I was a fat, shitty athlete, and by the time I figured out what Bills football was after being in town for a couple years, I already felt well behind the curve. It never mattered much, though; the teams were too fun to worry about the occasional misstep in social cues. And the teams remained fun, even when they weren't, actually, because part of accepting that new identity I slid into after we moved to Winston Road in 1988 was accepting that keeping the Bills a part of my life, keeping them a source of fun, keeping them a touch-point in my consciousness, was a key part of how I could start calling Buffalo home. House parties with my family turned into house parties with my friends turned into house parties with my college classmates turned into tailgates into Bills Backers into reunions with old friends into new friends into this blog that I love too much about these teams that I love too much. And Buffalo remained home.
Fast-forward to tonight, through this summer, last summer, through the Rex Ryan years and the Marrone years and the years that came before, and a not insignificant part of me can say that it feels different, that it feels less necessary, that the dried well of optimism has forced my hand into taking some sort of logical step towards releasing my cold, darkened heart from loving this team. The table is set for a clean break, for a cancelled blog subscription and podcasts lost in some server archives out west, for friendships to transition to non-partisan affairs in which we talk about other things, other sports, things that reward us as consumers of life's pleasures.
They remain a thing that we do, as Sons and Daughters of Buffalo, as fans who loved them through the Super Bowl years, or later, or earlier; who hate them often but can't step away; who value them for what they can mean on a blustery tailgate with some of the best friends you could imagine; what they can mean when you see a standing Buffalo logo across the street in New York, in Boston, in D.C., in London, in Japan; what they can mean as you hug every stranger in sight while Shout! blares over the PA and part of your physiology tells your brain that what you're feeling is the absolute fucking best.
It's the Friday before a Bills season opener and I have the itch, not because of belief in this godforsaken team and its godforsaken capitalist enterprise, not because a sports version of Pascal's Wager is in play and I don't want to miss the turnaround as it happens (lol), but because it's what we do.
Let's Go Buffalo.