The holiday season is upon us and with it comes the extra hustle and bustle and stress that can really drag you down. There simply isnít enough time in the day to go about your normal daily business while also putting up holiday decorations, fighting the crowds at the mall and wondering how youíre ever going to wrap that hockey stick you got for your nephew.
On Saturday I spent multiple hours on a ladder putting up the Christmas lights, fighting with extension cords and wondering why in the name of all that is holy I was risking my life to provide a festive display for my neighbors and passersby. Although I am confident that I now possess the electrical planning skills needed to rewire New Orleans, I am sad to report that the lights are so poorly made that they do not stay on all at once (if anyone knows where I can obtain reasonably rugged lights to replace the substandard pieces of junk made by Chinese slave labor that I currently have, please drop me a line).
No sooner did I get off the ladder than I got in the car and spent some quality time shopping with the drooling masses of idiots at Wal-Mart and Best Buy Ė I swear their merchandise is made from Soylent Green Ė you can feel the evil just walking through those stores. You donít really want to buy a DVD player for $29, but somehow you do because all the other lemmings are doing it and itís such a great deal! I bought 8 and I donít even want them, but I feared being reported to authorities if I didnít do my duty as a consumer and do my part to support hyper-capitalism and its impact around the world.
I thought Sunday would be a much better day Ė Bills football and a chance to see how J.P. Losman was progressing. The game really lifted me out of the holiday blues. Losman and the Bills came out on fire Ė possibly the best start to any game I had ever seen. 2 really nice long passes to Lee Evans for scores and a turnover on defense Ė this is certainly a taste of the future Bills, the team that would be a contender sooner rather than later. The young quarterback looked really good Ė doing the little things that the great ones do but are so hard to learn like looking off a safety. Knowing the playoffs were all but out of reach, I was content to see the Bills play well and make progress for the future.
Somewhere along the line, the Bills fell apart in a collapse of epic proportion. If you saw it, you know there really arenít words to describe it. Itís a numbness mixed with gnawing at the gut. Your stomach feels hollow; the blood rushes from your face and you feel light-headed. You get tunnel vision and stare off into nothing, unable to process the events around you. Iíve had it before, but Sundayís case was most severe since the forward lateral play in Tennessee a few years back.
A day later and the feeling isnít much better. The numbness has worn off and Iíve been able to hold down food, but the realization has set in that the Bills give me no reason to take pride in being a Bills fan.
Itís funny being a Bills fan. You grow up with them in Western New York and they become something that stays with you the rest of your life. You may move out of the area, but chances are you still root for the red, white and blue on Sundays. You own and continue to buy all things Buffalo Bills Ė from the cap and jersey down to the officially-licensed shower curtain and fondue set.
The last half-dozen years have certainly tested the spirits of Bills fans, but today I, like many others, feel no desire to proclaim membership in Bills Nation. Itís not abandoning the team (Iíll certainly keep rooting for them after I get over todayís pain), itís simply desire to publicly disassociate oneself from a hapless franchise. Like the Saints fans of yesteryear who wore bags over their heads but still went to the game because they could not tear themselves away from their team, I feel that I also need some anonymity.
Nobody likes a loser in the NFL, the league where greatness is cyclical. Great teams years ago have fallen back to earth, while those perennially wallowing in mediocrity have risen to the ranks of playoff contenders. Sooner or later, your team will rise again thanks to the salary cap, schedule and the draft.
After phenomenal success in the early 1990s, the Bills were due to fall from greatness. John Butler left and the Bills were stuck in salary cap hell. It took a few years, but eventually the team put their financial woes to rest and began rebuilding. Within 5 years or so the Bills should have been on the rise, back in position to contend for playoff berths and division championships. The task was made more difficult by the success of the New England Patriots, but because the NFL is cyclical they would eventually come back to earth.
Unfortunately, the Bills never emerged from their fall and appear to be sliding down towards a period of rebuilding. After years of waiting for the playoffs, it doesnít appear that they will contend in the near future. Too many pieces need to be put into place Ė offensive and defensive lines, cornerback, safety Ė to accomplish the task in less than a few years.
As a fan, Iím tired of waiting for next year, thinking that the Bills are almost there. I am tired of watching a team find new and imaginative ways to abuse my emotions on a weekly basis. I am tired of explaining why I wear a Bills cap in New England and reminding Patriots fans that the day will come when my Bills are a good team. Iíve realized that instead of looking like a guy with pride in my team, I look like a guy who doesnít know any better than to look like a complete fool. A guy who goes to see the Harlem Globetrotters and roots for the New York Nationals. A guy who plays the role of a modern day Sisyphus.
As if my holiday stress and Bills pain were not enough, today marks the day Sports Illustrated announced its choice for Sportsman of the Year. Like a dagger to the heart, there on the cover is Tom Brady, golden-boy nemesis of the Bills and quarterback of the very beatable 7-5 New England Patriots. The guy who should be watching the Bills win the AFC East. The guy who will undoubtedly add more pain to our Sunday afternoon next week.
Is it any wonder that the suicide rate spikes this time of year? Itís more than a Bills fan should have to bear.