After last week’s column on a devastating overtime loss I got a message from an old high school friend of mine. It was a pleasant surprise – I’ve resisted going onto Facebook, so when I cross paths with and old acquaintance who has also moved from WNY it’s nice to see someone who continues to follow the Bills.
I was a bit surprised to learn how closely my friend has kept up with the Bills. Few of people from WNY I know keep up much with the Bills after their decade of futility – I thought I might be just about the only one left. While others are spending their Sunday afternoons doing something productive or even fun and relaxing, you’ll find me in front of my TV and computer closely following the Bills death march to the number one pick in the 2011 college draft.
On Monday nights I carve out time to put my thoughts to my computer. But after years of writing I’m running desperately short of topics and I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to keep this up. There’s only so many ways you can comment on the myriad of devastating losses the team has visited upon their loyal fans. There’s only so many ways you can speak about the futility and ineptitude of the Bills organization. There’s only so many ways you can try and describe the damage done to your soul as you cling to your Bills fanaticism.
There’s really not much to say about Sunday’s loss – you saw it or read about it already. Sadly, you’ve seen it many times before and it probably won’t be the last time you see the Bills manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The question we as Bills fans all want to know about this loss as the latest in a long line is why – why does this keep happening?
It’s abundantly clear that the Bills lack the talent to compete – even the most optimistic of fans seems willing to admit that. There were some diehards in the preseason who thought that the Bills were going to surprise the naysayers and were actually on the cusp of making the playoffs – the only thing surprising to the midpoint of the season is that the Bills haven’t been able to win a single game.
If you listen to the fans there is talk about whether the Bills are a cursed organization. No matter how close the Bills get to a win, no matter how hard they play, no matter how closely they are able to keep up with teams with much better talent, the Bills never seem to catch a break. Surely this proves that the Bills have some sort if hex upon them, have some bad mojo or have fallen into God’s doghouse.
I make no bones about being a curmudgeon – when you’ve put in as much time, though and emotion as I have with so little provided in return it’s pretty easy. I don’t believe the Bills are cursed – I believe they are just losers. Watching the game on Sunday all I could think about as the Bills pulled close was how the group of losers on the field was going to blow it – there was simply no way they were going to leave the field with a win. For a team many think is playing with heart I certainly see plenty of guys who can’t shake the stink of losing.
Nothing better exemplifies my point than Ryan Fitzpatrick’s performance in the waning moments of the fourth quarter. Needing only a few more yards to shorten a 54-yard field goal attempt, Fitzpatrick goes back to pass as turns the ball over – one of only two things you absolutely could not do if you wanted to win (the other being to take a negative yardage play like a sack). Replays show that the ball wasn’t tipped, nor was the quarterback hit – instead, the ball somehow inexplicably came out of Fitzpatrick’s hand as if being thrown by a seven year old girl rather than an NFL quarterback. Honestly, does this happen to anyone other than Charlie Borwn, Ziggy or a Bills quarterback? Fitzpatrick might be a heck of a nice guy and I don’t mean to besmirch him as a person, but that move screams loser (admit it, you yelled something to that effect when you saw the play).
So the game goes into overtime and the Bills win the all-important coin flip. Despite statistic showing nearly 60% of the teams winning the toss win the game, the Bills managed to once again buck the odds. Rian Lindell makes a winning 53-yard field goal just as the Chiefs call timeout and misses the do-over – the kick that actually matters. The entire episode is a bizarre photonegative of the Monday Night Football Cowboys debacle where the Cowboy’s long kick fails but the Bills let him off the hook with a timeout and he makes the do-over. No matter what happens, the Bills are always on the wrong side of the equation and that’s because they are losers.
The Bills have 2 first round picks on the sidelines as healthy scratches – losers. The $6 million outside linebacker/locker room leader Chris Kelsay can’t drop into pass coverage against anyone nor can he set the edge and finishes with an impressive 1 assisted tackle in 4 quarters of work – loser. Donte Whitner, yet another stellar first round pick, completes the game with no passes defended and no interceptions – the only time he was near the ball was when he was making a downfield tackle – loser. No matter how hard these guys try, no matter how much I cheer for them they never seem to come out on top and that makes them losers.
By association I am also a loser. Nobody forces me to watch the Bills, hoping beyond reason that they’ll show me something or at least leave me with a spring in my step on Monday morning. Nobody forces me to buy Bills merchandise. Nobody forces me to write this column. Stepping back a bit, I think it’s about time I try to shed my losing ways. That doesn’t mean abandoning the Bills, just putting a bit more distance between myself and them. It means reclaiming some of my Sunday afternoons and Monday nights – doing things that need to get done and enjoying my family. Judging from fan response I won’t be alone in finding different uses for my time and energy and letting the losers lose on Sunday.