Do I really have to? Well, no. Never. But here I am.
The thought crosses my mind often. Walking away from this blog, saving myself the smattering of credit card payments to keep a website and podcast hosting on, and doing something else with my weekends not to mention weekdays because here I fucking am on a fucking Tuesday, filled with some vague desire to let all the words and frustrations flow out of my fingers and, maybe this time, leave me empty of all the bullshit that inevitably invades my emotional palate every year sometime between September 10th and October 15th.
It never leaves, though. The inescapable truth of a brisk autumn and the predictably drab Buffalo Bills football that comes with it. This is, for better or worse, what we got.
I've mumbled on here before about the community of watching the Bills. I called into WGR when the Pegulas bought the team and mumbled on about how the Bills are the way I connect with home; about how they're a tangible link that brings about high fives and unexpected friendship 400 miles from where I grew up.
They are and they aren't.
It gets harder every year since I left to give a shit. Hell, I only lived in Buffalo for 12 years before moving away, and while those 12 years were a formative time, it is becoming apparent that the love I have for the team - or, to put it better, the need I have for the team to connect me to home - is probably not without its endpoint. This, of course, being the time when I blame the team for not fostering my devotion to the Bills and to Buffalo, rather than the unavoidable byproduct of being an expat whose parents moved away from WNY as soon as it was apparent that I was probably not coming back.
I can count the number of Bills games I remember attending in Orchard Park on one hand. Why some friends thought it was wise to let me write here is still anyone's guess. If you were to quantify the percentage of Buffalo a person can claim in their makeup, I'd be on the low side, with dishearteningly high levels of New England influence. It happens. Maybe disinterest in maintaining a connection home was bound to fail. Relying on manufactured sport to bind me to a place is at best a silly task, and at worst an invitation for a blowtorch to the heart.
Yet, here here I am, wondering if this season is the one that it starts mattering little if anything to me now that our team has yet again found itself in the most predictable of pickles. A QB who has lost the confidence of his head coach; a head coach and offensive coordinator determined to misuse that QB, ignore the few things he does right, and move onto the next guy as if there aren't fundamental flaws within the men drawing up the Xs and Os; a fan base falling over itself to declare themselves supreme football intellectuals and prophets, the first to have decided that the QB was going to fail as if betting on the Bills to fail was ever truly an ambitious move.
Anyone happy about what has happened with the Bills since Sunday can jump off a bridge into a crocodile vagina for all I care. It's shitty. Everything is pain. Kyle Orton is what would happen if Roy Munson procreated with Ishmael and the baby decided that his natural calling wasn't bowling, despite his genetics, fat face and neck beard, but football. I may be cheering my balls off with the rest of you clowns who celebrate another lost season just because it makes you right, but I won't like it.
So, is this the year I start reevaluating my love affair with the misfits at One Bills Drive? Not fucking likely, as it turns out. What the fuck of it. Let's recap the shit out of the last two weeks and figure out where the fuck we are before it stops being fun again.
The Apologist is a big fucking asshole if you ask me.
Apologist's First Thing to be Excited About: The Bills Defense.
Yes. It was pretty stellar. At one point in the second quarter Arian Foster had -7 yards rushing and I was as hard as Keith Olbermann is indignant. Metaphors.
The guys came up with big plays all around, including a Leodis McKelvin pick that was nothing short of spectacular. How did I ever doubt you, Leodis? Actually, come to think of it! I never did. I NEVER DOUBTED YOU, LEODIS ANQUAN MCKELVIN.
/deletes twitter and facebook and blog archives
The defense was great. It was, however, not enough.
Apologist's Second Thing to be Excited About: Fred and CJ
Yup. They were great. On 22 carries, they had 93 yards, a stat I choose to believe is unrepresentative of their games because the Doug and Nate Show decided to take a detour towards being even bigger fucking idiots than I could have imagined them possible. I've ranted about it on twitter and other social media and to my wife who doesn't care and my toddler who only understands about half of what I say ... if you throw the fucking ball at a ratio of 2 to 1 over runs, you're probably making a mistake. If you do that with a running back duo as capable as Fred and CJ, and a QB as green as EJ Manuel, you are just asking for me to take a shit on the winshield of your car.
Fred and CJ were great. It was, however, not enough.
Apologist's Third Thing to be Excited About: Fitzpatrick.
Yup. He played badly. Super badly. He was aided by a monstrous afternoon from JJ Watt and the TAINT that Watt was able to pull off during the Bills first drive after halftime. Fitz threw a bad pick to Bradham and the only reason we're not talking about how hilarious it is that Fitz is still in the league is because JJ Watt is still in the league. What a monster.
Fitz was a trainwreck. It was, however, not enough.
Apologist's First Thing to be Terrified About: Ryan Fitzpatrick.
YUP. The beard was glorious, and the guy was hyped to play the team that paid him crazy money and then inexplicably let him go because he revealed himself to be exactly the quarterback that he always was. When Fitz leads the Texans to the playoffs, we will rest assured that destiny exists. Just not for us.
Fucking Fitz. Fuck him always.
Apologist's Second Thing to be Terrified About: JJ Watt.
Apologist's Third Thing to be Terrified About: Embarrassment.
Alas, it wasn't enough to lose, or to lose when the game was readily in hand, or to lose to your former starting QB from which a thousand branded indie tshirts would spring. To lose in those ways falls disastrously short of true achievement when you can just wake up the next day and inevitably see the head coach admit that the putrid performance from EJ wasn't readily identifiable as putrid until 24 hours later, but don't worry! Kyle Orton is Plan B.
That Marrone pulled the trigger on a change at quarterback is a blessing, perhaps, but nevertheless overshadowed by the fact of Kyle Orton as the alternative. None of this is good. It's beyond embarrassing in that it reveals how thin the ice always was such that two losses - one to a quality team and one in which the game plan was woefully inappropriate for the realities of a QB who, at best, was progressing slowly - would be enough for everything to fall apart. In stark and depressing clarity, with a Neck-Bearded Whiskey Fiend (and those are his good qualities) coming to the rescue, we now know that the makeup of the Bills franchise was worse than we thought. Not only were they nowhere near as confident in EJ's game as claimed to be, and not only have they invited EJ's demise by asking far too much from him at a time when no one could reasonably expect him to deliver, but they have done these things with absolutely no shred of a backup plan beyond desperately clasping their eyes shut and hoping some deity will finally spare some good grace and salvation for Buffalo's pro football team.
It's all such a fucking mess.
AROUND THE LEAGUE:
Goodell fucked up but it won't matter. The NFL has no clue about the truly horrifying contours of domestic violence and the role the the sport has in perpetuating horrific, violent behavior while punishing innocuous hits from the bong. The FCC has just ruled that the blackout rule will no longer be supported by the rule of law vis a vis the FCC's enforcement power, but fat chance that the NFL is ever actually forced to reign in its corporate greed and deep longing to piss on fans at every turn. Pro football's officiating crews are filled with men bent on arbitrary application of league rules while actively resisting any switch to full-time work since each of these dickheads in stripes has another job that they probably like better and pays them incredibly well. The NFL, when its done pissing on fans, lacks fundamental respect for its labor force, both on the field and on the sidelines. Lawsuits with little chance of success are being lodged in the hopes of fair pay for cheerleaders and compensation, however nominal and egregiously late it is, for catastrophic injuries to the brains of the heroes of our collective past and present.
These things, and a Bills team yet again stuck on the express train to irrelevancy.
With a fair degree of optimism, and a truly irrational sense that good things come to those who wait, it all seems like a prelude to something better. An NFL more just and fair. A Bills team more able to control its destiny and fulfill the promises we've heard for decades. We can convince ourselves that this is all a long walk to something better, but maybe this is it. Best to cheer while we can.