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
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.
1. Shady. This checks a lot of boxes for me and I know I'm not alone. Star offensive skill player returns to former team after they miraculously trade him for a third year LB that just came off a year-long injury? Check. Star offensive player has previously made allegations of racism against the former team's still-current head coach? Check. Player has only had three games out of twelve with less than 100 all-purpose yards? Check. Former team has been middling at best but just pulled off shock upset of Patriots? Check. Former team is located in Satan's Asshole, PA? Check. (incidentally an anagram of Philadelphia is "Alpha Id Help I, " so interpret that as you will). Shady has been fantastic in the lead-up to this game; he's set the right tone even though it risks dipshit stories from awful writers that likely asked him dipshit fucking questions during press conferences. I am fucking excited to see what he's capable of.
Also, seriously, fuck Chip Kelly and his ugly fucking face.
2. Tyrod. The guy is continuing, with the occasional hiccup granted, to establishing himself as the starting QB of this team for the next couple years at least. For all the complaining about wasting a draft pick on Manuel as he continues a reverse trajectory, all the complaining about not having a franchise QB that can unquestionably take us to the promised land, if Tyrod was drafted last year in the middle of the first round and was putting together a similar resume, we'd be over-the-moon and we'd accept his growing pains in his first starting post. There is real, substantial evidence that Taylor might just be close enough to the real deal that we have some chance at watching late January home games at the Ralph within the next couple years. Regardless of whether the team can string together enough wins for playoffs now, in this season, his ongoing progress and playmaking ability is reason enough to watch.
3. The defensive line. Something's gotta give and there's no better time than against an offensive line with run blocking and pass blocking both ranked well-within the bottom half of the league. Send the house and let's move on.
CHRISTMAS BONUS THING: Herm Edwards saying more asinine bullshit. Herm, please stop speaking in public and otherwise.
THINGS THAT TERRIFY ME:
1. Finding out one of my family members is a Trump supporter.
2. Watching the Bills play in another relatively unfamiliar park. The team only has two road wins this year and both were against divisional opponents with, accordingly, pretty familiar terrain.
3. Chip Kelly embarrassing the Bills to such an extent that he inexplicably gets to keep his job.. Keeps me up at night.
CHRISTMAS BONUS THING: Herm Edwards remaining a valued voice in conversations about professional football. In 2015. Fucking hell.
DANE'S FANTASY FOOTBALL DIAMONDS AND FUGHAZIS
@Tha_Scizz – It’s Fantasy Playoff time! Hope the DGWU readers have been listening because if they did they’re probably still alive. Heading into the playoffs, you need to make sure you have a difference maker at QB so we’re putting some typical studs on blast so you don’t get fooled. My Jets won the battle of NY last week, but looks like the real battle for NY and the playoffs might take shape for week 17…but it looks like you’re down on Rex huh?
Diamond 1 –Jameis Winston. Don’t look now but the Bucs are 6-6 and would lead the NFC East. That requires leadership and Jameis has grown men following him reminiscent of when he screamed on top of a cafeteria table back at Tallahassee. He’s quietly been one of the more consistent QB’s out there scoring over 12 points in every game this season. This week he faces the ghost of Rob Ryan who’s defense still gives up the most points in the NFL. Add to that a group of pass catchers who are getting healthy and the 2nd leading rusher in the NFL and I see something shining bright this week at home against New Orleans.
290+ Passing Yards, 40+ Rushing Yards, 3TDs
Diamond 2 – Doug Baldwin. We’ve been fading the Baltimore pass defense all season and this week is no different. The Ravens give up the 5th most points to the WR position and Doug Baldwin has been killing it lately. He’s had >26 fantasy points 3 of the last 4 weeks with two or more TDs in each of his last two games. The Seahawks offense is evolving, and it might be Russell Wilson’s bird after all, but it’s Doug Martin’s who’s the Bad Man getting his feet wet. Just don’t get in as deep as Golden Tate did, but that’s another story and Danger-Russ is keeping it tight…
7 Rec, 100+ Yards, TD
Bonus Diamond – Ryan Fitzpatrick. In a week where you need to win, here’s another QB you can use over this weeks Fugazi’s. Fitzy is coming off 390 Yards passing, his 2nd 50 attempt game (he’s gone over 30 in 8 of 11 games this year), and gets Tennessee at home. The beard has been trimmed and he’s fallen in love with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker who are legit weapons and the first Jets receiving duo since Keyshawn and Chrebet to score double digit TDs. The running game has slowed a little and the Jets will keep their momentum going by spreading it out against the Titans.
310+ Passing Yards, 2+TDs
Fugazi 1 – Philip Rivers. It’s gotten ugly quick for the future L.A. Chargers. The offensive line is banged up and the Chiefs can rush the passer, notching the 5th most sacks in the league. Rivers had his worst outing of the season in week 11 when they lost to KC 33-3 and that was before even fill-in targets like Stevie Johnson and Dontrelle Inman got hurt last week. This time to go to Arrowhead to face a team in the middle of the playoff chance. The Chargers need to see if they have anything in top pick Melvin Gordon and will not be heard from again until the move.
<250 Passing Yards, 1 TD, 2INT
Fugazi 2 – Matt Ryan. You cannot rely on Matt Ryan in the playoffs. After starting hot like Matty Steam he’s gone cold to earn the name Matty Ice, throwing 11 INTs in his last 8 games. Now they play Carolina twice in the next 3 weeks, which means Fantasy Freestyle MVP – Josh Norman – will be on Julio throughout the playoffs. Hankerson has been moved to IR and the Falcons won’t have the firepower outside of Freeman on the ground to make Ryan worth the risk. He may be a nice name, but Matt Ryan is a Fugazi! Fuggettaboughtit!
<270 Passing Yards, 2INT
DRINK OF THE WEEK:
Gatorade and Vodka.
Asshole of the Week:
This motherfucker has some massively racist balls if you ask me. His comments on the bench this past were fucking gross. Stuff about how "blacks" shouldn't be admitted to top colleges and universities because it's too much of a challenge for them, as if there's something intrinsic that makes them incapable of undergraduate success With the recommendation lower quality schools are the appropriate undergraduate destination for students of color, Scalia explicitly hearkens back to racial segregation in schools, yes, but also by extension any area of public life. Regardless of whether his worldview carries the day when it comes time for the Justices to issue rulings, Scalia nudged it into the public conversation, legitimized a troubling sentiment among his ideological backers and assisted in shifting the frame with the introduction of such a batshit idea that I have to reject it out of hand for the moment.
Derek Vinyard with a law degree.
Barrister's Reading List:
Hey man, I mean, @BLeez17 said he thinks the Bills have an honest shot at running the table for that 6th playoff spot, so lord knows I'm going to use that as an excuse to blissfully predict happiness and rainbows and Shady victoriously throwing even more shade at Chip.
Bills 34, Eagles 28.