Are ‘Bills fans’ fine with the NFL bolting Buffalo? - OPINION
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • December 19, 2012 @ 10:51am
Maybe it’s just the people I surround myself with, but I’ve noticed a current of longtime Buffalo Bills fans that have had enough of losing—to the extent that the absence of a team would be preferred to the 13 years of playoff-less futility.
How widespread is this sentiment? I’m not sure. Would you care if the Bills were in Sacramento next year and the excitement of hockey returned after the lockout concludes? Would Buffalo miss a beat?
Is it merely the release of bottled up frustration that—sparked by Chan Gailey’s recent floundering and another year of missing the playoffs—brought back past-and-present memories of Mike Mularkey, Travis Henry, Gregg Williams, Eric Flowers, Roscoe Parrish, Mike Williams, Derrick Dockery, Trent Edwards, T.J. Graham, Leodis McKelvin, Aaron Williams and Mark Anderson? The line of wasted draft picks, atrocious free agent signings and missed opportunities marches endlessly on.
Is it the lack of hope for the future, the absence of an elite quarterback and a team-wide lack of leadership? Could it be an absentee owner and the growing crystal mountain at the bottom of the hourglass pushing toward the team’s impending sale? The fear of an eager, warm-weather football market—Los Angeles, perhaps—that could swoop in with the vision, money and facilities to succeed while Buffalo waffled its way out of a franchise ?
Could it stem from browsing through a woefully depressing Twitter feed on Sunday afternoons or starting your day with the Whiner Line on a regular basis?
Buffalo’s injured center Eric Wood bashed the Toronto series on “Norton in the Morning” on 97 Rock, saying this as passed along by the Buffalo News’ Tim Graham.
“I think that Toronto series has turned into pretty much a joke,” Wood said in an interview with DJ Jickster and Chris Klein. “I think they started it hoping that we’d have a lot of fan support in Toronto. We have none.
Let’s face it—our northern neighbors have no interest in embracing a dysfunctional product, and Buffalo’s own interest dwindles as the bitter December winds and calls for lake effect snow tempt us to pass off our tickets for pennies on the dollar. Why watch a 33-point loss in another country when you have NFL Red Zone on your 50-inch plasma and the fantasy football playoffs are on the line?
To me, at least, these “former” Bills fans are new breed. In my mind, the prevailing notion has long been this: “As long as the Bills are playing in Buffalo, we’ll take pride in the organization even if it means withstanding long periods of sadness, anger and hopelessness. We value the team because it’s ours, and we’ll celebrate heartily when we knock off New England and relish the fact that C.J. Spiller is a Bill and property of no other team.”
The fan-base is not fully lost, either. It’s been thrilling to watch the Buffalo.com Twitter feed to track Western New Yorkers backing Notre Dame in its wholly-unexpected trip to the National Championship. There are parallels here—the Fighting Irish haven’t claimed a crown since Lou Holtz’s title in 1988, and recent memories of Charlie Weis, Tyrone Willingham, Jimmy Claussen, Brady Quinn, Carlyle Holiday and Dayne Crist muster few smiles. Now, the “team of destiny” Fighting Irish clash with Alabama at 8:30 p.m. Jan. 7. Is there a Brian Kelly and a Manti Te’o on the horizon in Buffalo?
We take comfort in the hope for a new quarterback, a new ownership group, a new downtown stadium. Drastic change is in the near future, and we have no way of telling how things will shake out when the team is sold. For all we know, Johnny Manziel could be quarterbacking the Bills in 2015 inside a state-of-the-art stadium overlooking the Erie Canal Harbor as Jim Kelly’s new ownership group clinks glasses of ginger ale with general manager Bill Polian, celebrating a home victory in the AFC Championship Game.
Clinging to a morsel of hope and stiff-arming the serpents of apathy and abandonment, Bills fans plod on, carrying the burden of recent history and an uncertain future. Bandwagon fans don’t exist, as off-season optimism has so routinely merged with in-season disappointment that August’s playoff dreams are easily tempered or forgotten.
Where do we go from here? We’ve been through too much to give up.