…and the Buffalo Bills play a surprisingly good game but still suffer another devastating defeat here on Monday Night Football….
Wow – just wow. What can I say? So much and so little all at the same time. The gut punch feeling that makes you feel like your insides have been filled with sand. The residual adrenaline coursing through your now exhausted body. The emptiness in your soul. Amazingly this is déjà vu for fans of the Buffalo Bills.
I enjoy writing about my experience as a Buffalo Bills fan and sharing my opinions with those who choose to read what I write, but tonight I’ve run out of ideas. What can I possibly write about that I haven’t written about with the same sickness and angst in the past few years? Part of me wanted to dig up the column I wrote after last season’s crushing loss to Dallas on Monday Night Football, change all references to Dallas to New England and republish the piece (heck, I wouldn’t even need to change the score). I also could have revisited articles I wrote after the Cleveland game, the Denver home opener, the Jacksonville home opener, or a handful of other games I’d rather forget.
So for the umpteenth consecutive time I dragged myself into an office full of Patriots fans, each and every one of whom wanted to chat me up about the game. At lunch our server came to the table, introduced himself and broke the ice by asking, “You guys see that game last night? What a nail biter – I can’t believe we won – an all time classic game” (my buddy told him I was a die-hard Bills fan and “Jim” soon realized he wasn’t getting a tip).
I suppose I should take some comfort in the familiarity of the situation – I know the drill by now. I’m a master of politely discussing a Bills defeat with gloating co-workers and withholding the urge to murder them by driving a thousand staples into their head or bludgeoning them with a series of blows from my keyboard. Like any gut punch, however, no amount of bracing for it softens the blow.
When the Bills went up by 11 points with just over five and a half minutes left in the game I texted a friend of mine – “so, how are they going to blow it?”. He wrote back that he was just waiting for his heart to be ripped out and I responded by predicting a late turnover to be the final nail in the coffin. We were not the only Bills fans who knew the Bills weren’t going to emerge with a win – I think most longtime fans expected the outcome and that speaks volumes about the recent history of the organization.
I knew, KNEW the Bills were not going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory last night. The Bills have become the Washington Generals to the New England Patriots’ Harlem Globetrotters – a clownish group of entertainers competing just to give the other team a stylish victory. Buffalo is a once proud franchise whose slogan was “Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills” to indicate that they never gave up and always managed to survive and pull it out. Today that slogan is more aptly put as “Nobody uncircles the wagons and gets slaughtered by hordes of Sioux like the Buffalo Bills”.
The Buffalo Bills are losers. Losers not only because they come up short on the scoreboard more often than not, but because they actually become experts in perfecting the technique. If you look back at last night’s game as well as a multitude of others, the Bills actually had to try hard to lose. It’s not easy to lose a game when you’re up by 11 points with less than 5 minutes left on the clock, nor give up a touchdown, a 2-point conversion and 2 field goals over 50 yards to go down in flames. Much like a catastrophic airline crash, a whole multitude of things usually have to go wrong in conjunction with one another for tragedy to strike and but for any one of them disaster is averted. In Bizzaro World the Bills are the most dominant champions the world has ever seen.
The day after the loss, Bills fans seem to have fallen into 2 categories: those angry and depressed about the situation and those looking for some positives. As much as I’d like to be in the latter group, I am firmly in the former.
The optimists say that although the Bills lost, they played a good game – much better than anyone thought. They point to a solid if unspectacular performance by Trent Edwards as well as better than expected play by the interior of the offensive line. They also point to a renewed Aaron Schobel and his playmaking abilities as well as some solid offensive game calls by Alex Van Pelt. While many of these are valid points, right now I don’t want to hear it. I get the feeling that these same optimists think everything is going to be OK and the Bills will take away plenty of positives and had a great learning experience.
To the people legitimizing and justifying yet another horrific loss I must remind them that this is the NFL. Grown men are paid big money to produce results. This is not Pop Warner football that is played for sake of competition, teamwork and sportsmanship. After the game we are not all going to Jimmy’s house for snow cones.
I’m tired of saying it, but the only thing that will make me happy anymore is for the Bills to WIN GAMES. I’m no longer willing to settle for moral victories or signs that the team is making good progress because, quite frankly, I just don’t care about those things. I care about watching a team that is motivated to win, knows how to accomplish a win and that goes out and does it.
If you’re not angry at the current situation you’re not paying attention. The men who play and coach this game are professionals. They are paid millions of dollars to WIN GAMES. Many of these guys will make more in a single game check than most of us will make at our jobs over the course of many years. These guys could take a week’s pay and buy your house and still have plenty left over to buy a car nicer than the one you drive. And where does this money come from? It comes from you and me in the tickets, merchandise and Sunday Ticket subscriptions we buy. I spend a few hundred dollars a year on the Bills and I’m getting little in return from a bunch of so-called professionals.
So tonight I sit here and seethe. I am not alone. I don’t really know what to say or do. I know what I want and what I want is not what I’m getting from the professionals I pay. You may think I’m being unreasonable, but I don’t care – I’m too fed up to care. And besides, my stomach hurts.