On Sunday afternoon my first thought about this article was to make it short and sweet Ė two words to be exact Ė ďIím DoneĒ. That summed up my feelings then, and it sums up my feelings now and Iím not alone. The apathy which I wrote about in an earlier column a few weeks ago has exploded into a full-blown abandonment of the team and I see many of my fellow Bills fans taking similar oaths to walk away from the team.
For the sake of the good readers of Bills Daily and my own sanity (writing can be very therapeutic), I decided to give this column another shot, but like Dick Jauron, Iím hanging by a thread.
The problem is that there isnít much to write about, nothing I havenít commented about many, many times over the past 10 years. Team in need of talent Ė check. Team going nowhere Ė check. Team in desperate need of leadership Ė check. Inept front office reaping the harvest of bad decisions past Ė check. Groundhog day Ė check. Pain of being a Bills fan Ė check. Team with a coach in way over his head Ė check. Bad quarterback. Bad offensive line. Inability to score points. Check, check and check.
Along the way Iíve tried to inject my passion for the team into what I write and at times try an elicit a laugh or smile from my fellow Bills fans Ė my dark sense of humor allows me to poke fun at how awful things have become, but I find it hard to muster any humor now. Although I donít consider myself very religious, as a writer and as a fan I shudder to at the words of Solomon, ď"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
Perhaps what bothers me most about the current situation is the lack of accountability within the Bills organization. Week after week men who are paid millions of dollars Ė our millions of dollars, are allowed to come out and "fail to execute". Simply put, they donít get it done, and nobody holds them accountable. While the fans cry into their beers, drive home and arrive early at work to face yet another depressing Monday wondering why they canít ever seem to milk a few hours of happiness out of the $50 they spent on a ticket or $300 on a Sunday Ticket subscription, the players shower, say something insipid to the media and drive off in a car nicer than most of us will ever own. Nobody asks how they can laugh or smile after a putrid performance. Nobody asks if they can understand what we the fans feel like after 10 years of being fed garbage. Nobody asks if they have a problem picking up their game checks with a straight face. In short, the players arenít held accountable for their failures on the field or their inability to understand the passion and tragedy of the fans Ė they get theirs either way.
Likewise, the coaches arenít held accountable for their failures, either. Dick Jauronís contract with the Buffalo Bills will pay him more than I am likely to make in my entire working life and the man hasnít lead his team to a divisional win in going on 2 seasons. On Sunday the team he is responsible for was so undisciplined they committed NINE false start penalties AT HOME where crowd noise wasnít an issue. TWICE the Bills had to burn a timeout in the second half because the players didnít know they play call or the right personnel (the punt return team) werenít on the field. I know the coaches canít control everything on the field and the players need to play, but come on Ė discipline, game management and clock management all fall to the coaches plain and simple. Yet failure upon failure upon failure begets no accountability Ė like the players, the coaches drive off after the game and come back to start all over again without ever being held accountable.
The front office also escapes accountability for their ineptitude. After failing on 3 head coach selections, draft busts and a staggering array of worthless yet expensive free agent signings the same front office geniuses are allowed to keep their jobs and keep doing damage to the organization. They crank the spin and hype machine year after year telling us the tide is turning and bringing in players who could turn the team into a winner in short order. The truth of the matter is that the big name players are here to sell merchandise, not improve the team. Surely anyone with any football acumen knew that putting an immobile quarterback like Drew Bledsoe behind a terrible offensive line wasnít going to work and that spending money on a big time receiver like Terrell Owens while fielding a line of misfits and rookies wasnít going to translate into many wins. But we continue to buy into it with our hard-earned money because we "Billieve" and look like a collective 70,000 suckers after the Browns game.
Our owner isnít accountable to the fans, and thatís a big disappointment. Ralph Wilson owns the team and can do with it as he wishes. I donít think heís evil, nor do I think heís cheap. I think heís a man who resists change and no longer has the intestinal fortitude to hold those below accountable for their performance and in doing so fails his accountability to the fans. There may not be a good answer to the current Bills debacle, no magic wand to wave, no magic personnel move to right the ship, but the lack of action tells us a few things. The first thing it tells us is that Ralph doesnít truly understand what the past decade has been like for those of us who bleed red, white and blue. At a time when we are swearing off the team and trying to fill the painful void in our lives heís holding the normal Monday luncheon and trying to make light of the situation. It also tells us that there is no plan in place to jettison Dick Jauron during the season because there are no good options. Newsflash Ė Dick Jauron has been doing a terrible job since week 7 of last season Ė itís not like he suddenly started being a bad coach Ė and you honestly never anticipated what you would do if things got so ugly a move needed to be made during the regular season? Really? I sure hope Ralph isnít in charge of fire safety at the stadium because being unprepared can have tragic consequences. Bills Nation is on fire and Ralph does nothing Ė not even speak out and let the fans know that the situation is unacceptable.
So there you have it Ė an entire organization of people allowed to fail without consequence. We as fans fail because we donít demand better Ė we just continue to feed the beast because we donít know life without it and fear it will up and leave us. I suppose in the end we deserve each other Ė I feel we deserve better and may exercise my right to walk away until we see some signs of getting it.