All Quiet on the Western (NY) Front


The ice has been silent for a couple months now. The offseason football personnel moves have been made, and practices have come and gone.

The end of June brings near complete silence in the two worlds of professional sports in Buffalo, NY. In the 24/7/365 sports world that America seems to currently inhabit, this is definitely a unique time of the year!

The silence will end this weekend as the NHL Draft will take center stage. Not long after that will be the free agent “frenzy” that occurs every July. And at the end of the month, the Buffalo Bills will hold their first public practice of 2013 at St. John Fisher College, here in Rochester, NY.

But for now, the sports talk radio guys don’t have much to talk about during their sixty-eight hours every week of live programming, other than their own rumors and speculation. (It’s kinda funny, in a sad way…)

The Buffalo Sabres: Who’s Next?

The Sabres, who have missed the playoffs more than they have made them in the past five seasons or so, are “rebuilding”. Their management says it could be a painful process. (Nice vote of confidence!) But some teams have proven otherwise. A few recent Stanley Cup champs were at the bottom of the league—lower than the Sabres—just two to five seasons back. The turnaround could happen quicker than the most dire predictions predict.

The word on the street (or, rather, the internet) is that the draft on Sunday is rather deep. Like, three-rounds-of-great deep. That should be quite encouraging to Sabres fans, as the team has five picks in the first three rounds, and two star players that are very likely to be traded (for potentially more picks, as well as players). They are in a good position to really improve their team, and do so quickly.

There was talk of the team with the first overall pick being willing to make a trade, but that doesn’t look very likely; they plan to use it. And while Nathan MacKinnon seems like he’ll be a very good player (even Rick Jeanneret think so), there’s a young kid—only sixteen—who already has the signs of being “the next Sidney Crosby“.

With the draft, you never know. You really never know.

One thing we know for certain is that the Sabres will look pretty different in the 2013/2014 season. That began last year with the firing of Lindy Ruff, whom some figured to be the Sabres coach until he wanted to leave. Add to that the past two seasons of dumping core guys like Jason Pominville, Derek Roy, even Paul Gaustad… and then the potential trades of Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek—this team will look different.

Hopefully they will also play “different”.

Buffalo Bills 2013

The Buffalo Bills: Retool Complete?

Speaking of “different”…

Just down the 219 in Orchard Park, NY, the Buffalo Bills have been not-so-quietly overhauling their franchise, as well. The swift changes started last December with the firing of Chan Gailey and his entire staff, and after a fairly exhaustive coaching search—even though it only lasted little more than a week—the Bills hired their new coach, Doug Marrone, and their feet have barely hit the ground since.

Last year’s QB Ryan Fitzpatrick—a four-year starter for the Bills—is gone, so are many of the players who have been around for a while here. Several veterans retired or were released, leaving a very young, very new-looking roster.

There are still some recognizable faces: CJ Spiller, Stevie Johnson, Mario Williams… but the Buffalo Bills are sporting a vastly new look, much like their Buffalo pro-sports cousins, the Sabres.

The Bills always start out with the somewhat severe handicap of playing in Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s division, but things don’t look that great for them (on many levels). That leaves the Jets (Ha!) and the Dolphins, the latter having done some major retooling themselves this offseason.

So when football starts in earnest on July 28th for the Bills, there is really no telling what the new season will bring. Really. Of course, you never know what will come, but this year: new coaches, new defensive and offensive schemes, new general manager, new quarterback(s), and plenty of other new players at plenty of other positions.

These guys will be wearing the familiar uniforms of the Buffalo Bills, but in large part, they are a completely different team!

That seems to be the word for the Buffalo teams, huh?

Think Different

Apple used the phrase “Think different.” in the 1980s when they were the upstart, rebel computer company—which, eventually changed the technological world, no?

The Bills and Sabres are trying hard to copy that success in their own “different” ways.

While they have both become perennial losers—indeed, laughing stocks; Bills more than Sabres—they could both be on the fast track to being perennial contenders. They actually do both have some critical pieces in place for that, and certainly these completely new casts of characters.

I know I’m ever the optimist, but this really could be interesting…

Let’s go Buffalo!

(Ahem… when everything starts up again, I mean…) 🙂

Ian The Goalie

Ian The Goalie - Canandaigua Knights

We have a hockey player in the house.

Actually, we have two—or more—but only one who plays “professionally”.

Ian participated in a 3-on-3 tournament this past weekend. Generally, hockey is 5-on-5 with a goalie, so with fewer skaters, I was actually a bit concerned for Ian. As the goalie for one of the four teams, he was likely to face far more shots than in a normal game, and as the backup goalie for his regular team this season, he is a bit “green” still.

However, Ian ended up with perhaps the best performance of all four of the goalies in the tournament!

He was teamed with several players from the travel teams. Travel teams often are comprised of the more skilled players (but not necessarily so) and in general would be favored to out-perform the house-league players (who are Ian’s regular teammates). There was good-natured competition brewing between these house-league teammates and their goalie understudy. And he bested them all!

Ian’s first game was probably his best, actually. He started the tournament against a team that was stacked with some of the better players from his regular team—who was also the early favorite to win this 3-on-3 tournament. It was a hard-fought game by both teams, but Ian’s team had a somewhat comfortable 5-3 lead up to the final minute. It was then that one of his regular teammates put a puck past Ian to make the score 5-4. Tense moments followed—including some clutch saves by Ian Campbell—until the final buzzer sounded with Ian’s team the victors!

That set the tone for the whole tournament, I think.

Many folks were telling me that Ian not only played a great game, but everyone was saying so. (Including the players from the other teams.)

Not wanting it to go too much to his head (and see him “flop” in Game Two) I kept such comments to myself, but did compliment him on a very well-played game.

(Really! I was very impressed!)

Well, Game Two was played, and Ian’s team was able to sort of “coast” to a 5-2 win. Not bad! There was a break then for the afternoon, followed by two more games for each team in the evening.

Back on the ice for Game Three, Ian actually completed 25 minutes of ice time without allowing a single goal, including a save on a penalty shot against a fairly good scorer from his regular team. (Again… impressed!) His team triumphed 7-0, and was to face the pre-tournament “best” team for their final game—right after they finished the third game!

To my (great) surprise, Ian’s team was skating harder and faster than the rested team, and built up a 5-2 lead going into the last third of the game or so.

But then they felt the tired.

One goal, then two, then THREE goals scored in the final minutes—I can’t recall now, but it might have been the final minute—produced a tie, and also solidified Ian’s team as the top seed in the tournament the following day with a final record of 3-0-1.

Ian was undefeated! Wow! Who’d-a thunk it?!

The tournament began at 8:30am the next morning, and Ian continued his very solid play, posting a 2-1 victory in the opening game against the fourth seed. The only goal he allowed was on a penalty shot! (Are you kidding me???)

The second game to determine their opponent in the Championship Game started very surprisingly with the pre-tournament “favorite” finding themselves down 3-0 very early in the game. It turned out to be a fantastic match, however, as that team came back and scored with literally one second remaining to avoid overtime and steal the victory by one goal.

After the Consolation Game, Ian’s team took the ice, ready to try to best the pre-tournament “favorites” one more time. He was already 1-0-1 against this team, and hoped to keep his perfect record going!

The game was really back and forth, but it didn’t start well! Ian’s team were down early, 2-1. They were able to fight back and gain a 4-2 advantage late in the contest—but favorites are favorites for a reason.

Tough play netted the “favorites” a goal to get them within one. Four to three was the score until just a couple minutes remained. The pressure was on… shot after shot… Ian’s team couldn’t get the puck. A shot from right in front of the net was saved by a swift motion of Ian’s leg pad…

But then it was just as swiftly tapped into the net by the same player who scored the fourth goal in the first game (Ian’s regular teammate) … and we had a tie game!

We’re headed to oooooooverrrrtime!

Overtime was tense, with chances for both teams, until finally Ian’s teammate was able to find the net with about a minute left in the 5-minute, non-sudden-death OT. Ian stopped the rest of the shots and his team left the ice with a well-earned 5-4 OT victory—and the Championship!

How fun for Ian! He’s been working really hard this year—and enjoying every minute of it!—as a backup goalie for the last-place team in his league. His only ice time has been in “mop-up” time: when his team was either up by a lot, or more likely, losing by a lot. He did get to play in one game near the end of the year, and helped his team to a victory! Again, fun!

They finish up this weekend with another tournament out of town. Ian will play in at least one game. He certainly has the support of his teammates (perhaps even more now?) and it will be fun to root him and all of them on to (hopefully) another tournament championship!

What a way to finish the season!

Great job, Ian The Goalie!

Are Buffalo Sports Eternally Doomed?

Aaron Maybin, Bills First Round BustThe Buffalo Sabres got their first win in five tries last night. It came by way of a(nother) great performance by goalie Ryan Miller. They have seven wins in this lockout-shortened season. Strangely, they are currently the worst team in the Eastern Conference, and yet they are only four points out of the final playoff spot.

The level of ineptitude (and apparent apathy) that they have displayed thus far was actually sufficient to cause the organization to fire their coach of sixteen years. (Which, honestly, even though it happens all the time in the league, many people in Buffalo figured it would never happen here!)

And now, the Buffalo Bills, who cleaned house at the end of the last season, are potentially not going to draft a quarterback in the first couple rounds?

Are we ever going to see a championship team here in Buffalo?

They really have come close. Obviously the Bills in the late 1980s to mid-1990s, a Ronnie Harmon catch away from six straight AFC Championship games. SIX, people! And the four straight Super Bowl appearances will likely never be rivaled. And, the Hall of Fame inductees from that team keep coming.

Tyler Myers - SabresThe Sabres have a couple Stanley Cup Finals appearances to their credit. (But no Cup…) They have a President’s Trophy (first place in the league for the regular season) and that team had some really notable names… but they are all gone.

Now names like Tyler Myers, and Tyler Ennis, and Stafford, Foligno, Enroth, Grigorenko, Brennan, McNabb, Adam, and on and on, are leaving a bad taste in the mouths of Buffalo sports fans everywhere.

Why can we never catch a break?

Free Agency is coming up for the Buffalo Bills. It begins on March 12th. The draft follows that in late April. The NHL trade deadline is much later than usual this year (because of the shorter season) at April 3rd. The Sabres’ deal makers have repeatedly stated that they are interested in making moves, “but we need to have a partner. It’s not like XBox.”

Since late last year, the Bills have said they want to draft a top-notch QB.

But since the new coaching staff has come in, they have been releasing (or not re-signing) veteran players at an alarming rate. This leads one to believe that they will use the draft to fill those holes. (Oh, and they also re-signed QB Tarvaris Jackson, and “reinstated” QB Ryan Fitzpatrick by publicly announcing that he and Jackson will compete for the starting job.)

With so many “new” holes, and making that move at quarterback (along with what most who follow the draft say is a “weak” class of QBs) does that mean that the Bills won’t draft a QB in the first couple rounds??

It may not even matter.

Unfortunately, the Bills’ recent track record with the draft goes something like this:

  • 2012: Stephone Gilmore, Cordy Glenn, T.J. Graham
  • 2011: Marcell Dareus, Aaron Williams, Kelvin Sheppard
  • 2010: C.J. Spiller, Torrell Troup, Alex Carington
  • 2009: Aaron Maybin, Eric Wood, Jairus Byrd, Andy Levitre
  • 2008: Leodis McKelvin, James Hardy, Chris Ellis
  • 2007: Marshawn Lynch, Paul Posluszny, Trent Edwards

No QBs. And not a great list overall, though there are some good players there. (Even a couple Pro Bowlers in Byrd and Spiller.)

It’s a bit unfair to come to any real conclusions regarding last year’s draft (though, it does seem they did get a very solid player with the pick of Gilmore), and one must also consider that there were two different “regimes” overseeing those drafts (Jauron/Levy, Jauron/I forget, and then Nix/Gailey).

But the italicized players are no longer with the team, and in some cases, no longer in the NFL. These are guys picked in the top three rounds.

C.J. Spiller is going to be great. And there’s no way that BOTH Byrd and Levitre leave Buffalo (they just are not currently signed). But the rest…

It sure seems like perpetual, eternal sports doom for this city. For both of the major pro sports franchises.

I do find myself hoping that the bottom really falls out for the Sabres. From what I’ve read, there are three really good prospects in the 2013 NHL Draft. So, if we add one of those guys to some promising young players already part of the organization at some level … seems good, no?

But then you remember the whole Buffalo thing.

It seems like we have a lot of this to look forward to in the near future…

“Tarvaris Jackson throws it deep to T.J. Graham… he’s got his man beat! … OH! He drops the ball and the game is over! I don’t know why they didn’t give the ball to Spiller a whole lot more than they did in that game, do you, Mark?”

“Tyler Ennis makes a move to get around Chara… a beautiful pass across to Myers… OH! He fanned on it! But the Sabres get it back again, Leopold around behind the net… out in front to Foligno…. OH! He fired it badly wide of the open net! Rask was completely out of position, but he fired it WAY wide!”

Yep. Seems to be the way it shall forever be…

End Of The Lindy Line

Lindy Ruff of the Buffalo SabresThe Buffalo Sabres announced today that they have “relieved Lindy Ruff of his coaching duties”.

That is the “nice” way of saying, “We fired him.”

It’s been asked for, begged for, longed for, pined for, and even fully expected for a few seasons now. Sabres fans (and players?) have felt the need for change due to the teams year after year being appropriately labeled “Underachievers”.

Actually, it is only because of loyalty to the man who has spent 25 years of his life with the Sabres organization, both as a player (1979-1989) and as its head coach (1997-2013) that he was still employed by the team.

Strange. Writing that closing date for Ruff’s coaching career felt a bit like an obituary just now.

Prior to today’s announcement, Ruff had been the second-longest tenured coach in American pro sports. Now the silver medal would currently go to Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators. (This could be the proverbial writing on the wall for Mr. Trotz…)

I actually remember the day, as a long-time Sabres fan, when the team went through coaches as fast as their Buffalo pro-sports counterpart have in the last decade and a half, or so. Rick Dudley, John Muckler, Ted Nolan… all fine coaches, actually. But they all only lasted a few years, then they were “let go”.

Lindy Ruff 1998But not Ruff. His record at his departure: 571-432-162. That’s one thousand, one hundred and sixty-five games. That, folks, is rather impressive. Even if you’re not a fan of his coaching of late (or ever) you’d have to give at least a slight tip of the hat to his incredible longevity. (And a winning percentage of .560 over that span, as well.)

Only three coaches in NHL history have coached more than a thousand games with the same team.

The Sabres have replaced Ruff with Ron Rolston, who was the head coach for their farm club, the Rochester Americans, up until about 5pm ET today.

And thus begins a new era.

I’m not really sure what to expect. I am an eternal optimist, and even I have been saying for a few weeks now, “I guess it’s time they fire Ruff!” The players have been lackluster (by many accounts) in several of their games this season. The 2013 season began well, with two straight wins, but since then the Sabres are 4-10-1.

Some of their wins have been fantastic. A 7-4 win in Boston, scoring four goals in the third, and overcoming a 3-1 second-period deficit as well. They’ve even looked pretty good in at least a couple of the losses: this past Sunday 4-3 to Pittsburgh, and a loss to the Ottawa Senators by the same score a couple weeks prior.

Were the players purposely not playing their best or their hardest to force management’s hand? Did they hope to see Ruff’s tenure severed?

No one can know that but the players.

We will now test that theory beginning tomorrow. The Rolston era will begin in Buffalo.

Boy, that sounds weird.

I look forward to seeing a new and different Sabres team. It can only get better, right?

And I wish the man, Lindy Ruff, who has lived for a while now in one of my home towns (Clarence, NY) only the best. Whether he coaches somewhere else or not—the affirmative being most likely—he will be forever admired and loved by the Buffalo community.

He’s a bit of an icon.

And now he’s gone. May he rest in peace.

Well, at least, his longest tenured coach bit.

Buffalo Bills: Upheaval… Partly.

doug-marroneToday is Football Day in America. Actually, around most of the entire globe. People everywhere are excited about “The Big Game” played on this first Sunday of February. The best two teams in the NFL—perhaps the greatest sports league in the world—clash in a winner-takes-all contest for ultimate supremacy!

But I’m thinking about the draft, and free agency, and our new coaching staff.

Yes, that is the life of many Bills fans. Our season ends as the clock hits 00:00 in week seventeen of the regular season (but really, it feels like it ends somewhere around Thanksgiving).

Ah, the life of a Bills fan!

But, it’s not all sunshine and lollypops. (Wait…)

While everyone else is talking about Ray Lewis using deer antler spray or the Brother Bowl (Alex calls it the SuperBaugh) … we are discussing the Bills becoming Syracuse West, the Senior Bowl, which QB will be the best fit, and free agent and/or trade possibilities.

And since we’re in football mode… let’s look at some of the reasons for hope here in Buffalo. (I know… I can always find those. But really, read on!)

Heart Transplant

And maybe a brain transplant? A lot has changed at One Bills Drive, and also, not a lot.

The players are all the same. Even Ryan Fitzpatrick has not yet been dethroned. He remains the Bills top QB, though there is rampant speculation about who might supplant him next season. (Will cover that below.) The two-headed RB monster should remain in place in the Bills’ backfield. Stevie Johnson is still Stevie Johnson. The Bills are (as far as I know) trying to re-sign solid left guard Andy Levitre and Pro Bowl safety, Jairus Byrd. Much of the on-field Bills will look the same.

However, starting at the very top, the Bills are markedly different.

First, Bills owner Ralph Wilson—a nonagenarian beloved by the city and the league—has for the first time in his 50-plus years of owning this franchise, ceded control to another person: Russ Brandon. That is truly a remarkable change. A few years ago, Russ had some fancy title, and acted as the General Manager of the team (though I believe there was a more football-minded “sidekick” with equal or more football-related decision making power) … that didn’t work out that well, so they gave him a different fancy title, and brought in Buddy Nix as a true NFL GM. All the while, Ralph Wilson, by all accounts, had daily contact and directives for the team and administrative staff. (Though, he was no Al Davis.)

Well, Brandon has done a fine job with the organization in all areas (he’s a savvy business man and marketing guru to be sure) and so, Mr. Wilson decided it was time for him to “retire” more officially, and he has now granted full control of the Bills organization to Russ Brandon.


Once that was in place, the younger, more decisive Brandon wasted no time.

Chan Gailey and his entire coaching staff were fired. They decided to keep Buddy Nix, but I think they re-titled him also. A few other guys were moved around, and then within six days of the start of their search for a head coach, the Bills chose the man you see at the top of this article: Doug Marrone.

Doug Ma-who???

The Bills have done it again! They could have hired someone with a reputation, a record, or at least a recognizeable name! Instead, we get a no-name, never-head-coached-in-the-NFL yahoo … sheesh!

Well, you see… it actually feels quite different this time.

This time… the Bills interviewed the guys with the big names. (Including Chip Kelly, whom everyone seemed to be gaga over.) And guys like former Bears HC, Lovie Smith, were publicly stating that they wanted to be the Bills choice for head coach.

Yes! For real!

The same was true with their eventual choice, Marrone. Apparently the Bills were one of four teams vying for Marrone’s head coaching services. And he chose Buffalo.

It makes some sense that the Bills had an edge. (He has a relationship with the Bills administrative guys, he’s lived in NY for a while now, as head coach of Syracuse, just a couple hours away, and a few other such intangibles.) But truly, that a sought-after head coaching candidate would choose Buffalo over other teams… that says something.

And very shortly thereafter, Marrone began putting his staff together, including bringing in the Jets former Defensive Coordinator, Mike Pettine. One thing the Jets have had over the past several seasons is a good defense. So that hire is certainly promising.

Lastly, the new coaching and higher-ups staff for the Buffalo Bills is young! Some are really young, like Offensive Coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett. He was the offensive quality control coach (or something like that) a few years ago here in Buffalo, but now, at age 33, he’ll be heading up the offense featuring up-and-coming NFL stars such as Stevie Johnson and C. J. Spiller.

Truly, it may not be as visible on the field on Sundays, but this Bills team has had some impressive upheaval in the off-season so far. It seems like that can’t help but produce change.


The biggest question for the Bills now is their QB. Ryan Fitzpatrick had a tremendous start to the 2011 season, taking the team to a 5-2 record before being cracked in half by former Bills LB, London Fletcher. After that, he was never the same. Including pretty much all of last season.

Fitz has guts. He’s perhaps the toughest QB in the NFL. (Maybe Roethlisberger could challenge for that title.) He’s fearless, and has a pretty strong arm, actually. He can really zip the ball into tight spots. He’s also highly inaccurate, or, can be? Not sure how to say it. Maybe 40% of his throws are off-target? Yikes. That just can’t pass for an NFL starter, no matter how many other intangibles he might have.

So the hunt is on for a new starting QB option.

Will it be the draft? Not sure. They will definitely draft at least one quarterback in this year’s draft. However, most reports suggest that there may not be a true first-round talent in the draft. So do the Bills take a chance on a guy with the 8th overall pick? Or do they draft a big lineman at that spot and either trade back up or hope their QB guy falls to their pick in the second round? I’m really not sure. They attended the Senior Bowl and the reports I hear favor Tyler Wilson from Arkansas from that group of six QBs. Of course there is speculation that Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib would be selected by this new Bills coaching staff that features eight coaches from last year’s Syracuse staff! But, again, Nassib is certainly not worth the 8th overall pick … could be be available for the Bills’ third- or fourth-round picks? We shall see.

So what about free agency? Technically, Super Bowl QB, Joe Flacco, is not under contract following this season. You think the Bills might go after him? Um… do you think the Ravens would EVER let him go after this year’s playoffs? Never.

So what other options are there? There is certainly the possibility of a trade. Alex Smith is one rumored option, as well as Seattle’s now-backup, Matt Flynn. Do the Bills want a guy like that? Or should they just put everything on a rookie that they select? Recent history has shown that rookies are certainly capable of great things in the NFL. (This year alone: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson had great success.)

Whichever route they go, the Bills will almost definitely have a new guy under center in September of 2013. My hunch is that they will get their guy through the draft. (That seems to be Nix’s M.O.) It will be very interesting to see who that guy ends up being!

Reasons for Hope

There really are reasons to be optimistic as a Bills fan. Let me list a few, bullet-point style:

  • CJ Spiller: CJ finally made it to the Pro Bowl as an alternate. (He should have been selected as a starter, in my opinion.) This guy is going to be fantastic. And Fred Jackson is actually fairly amazing, too! What a great tandem. I liken them to Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson in LA a few decades ago. Not a bad problem to have!
  • Defense: So, the Bills defense is fascinating. They have Pro Bowl caliber players on the D-line (the two Williamses, and even Marcell Dareus perhaps) and they discovered a new better-than-average player in Kyle Moore last year thanks to injuries. Don’t forget Mark Anderson, who was supposed to be pretty great, too … never got to see it as he was injured much of the season in 2012. Then with Stephon Gilmore, Jairus Byrd (they have to re-sign him!) and a few other very promising young guys—just a couple additions to this defense could make it great. (Not to mention a new guy at the helm, who has had great success in Baltimore and New York.)
  • Schedule. The Bills get the last place schedule again this season. That could be good, until you look at the list of opponents. I’m not sure this is a reason for hope… but it could be? 🙂

In short, we’re in off-season mode already here in Buffalo and so far it’s been at least interesting, if not downright impressive.

New coach, new attitude, new coaching staff, new decision making at the top … add a handful of new key players via draft and free agency … the Bills really should be in contention for at the very least the playoffs this next season, if not winning in the playoffs.

Don’t forget the ancillary things that have already happened here. The Bills signed a new stadium lease (10 years, I believe) and a new 5-year deal with Toronto. (That is a sore subject with many Bills fans, but it does increase the potential fan base, as well as simply bring cash to a team that doesn’t make as much as other teams.)

They certainly are busy. You can’t deny that.

And for the most part, the moves seem to be positive, aggressive, and hopefully will finally lead to the Bills being a winning, respectable franchise in the NFL again?

That would be impressive.

(My 14-year-old and 11-year-old NFL fan sons don’t know a Bills team other than the joke that they’ve been for all of their lives. How sad! The Bills went to FOUR straight Super Bowls when I first became a fan of theirs. THAT is what I hope they get to see from their team again some day… soon? We’ll see)

Go Bills!

The State of the Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills vs New England Patriots Sep 30 2012It’s ugly.

No way to sugarcoat that. It’s just ugly. BUT, as with all things, there’s always hope.

First, though, here’s what’s wrong.

Loser Mentality

There is still a feeling among Bills fans—and apparently among the players, too—that the Buffalo Bills are supposed to lose. In the past, that may have been so, with second-rate players and coaches, and roster depth at next-to-none. Is that really where we are now? What about the offensive line that had the team near or at the league lead in rushing, and essentially allowing zero sacks through one game? What about having the league leader (or near it) in rushing and all-purpose yards last year and this year (before injuries)? (And, they were two different players!) What about Fitz still leading the league in TD passes? Stevie Johnson is the first Bill ever to have two straight 1,000-yard seasons; Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, even the somewhat inconspicuous Mario Williams… our whole D-line! Plus Chan Gailey and Dave Wanndstedt are two fairly respectable names around the league on offense and defense.

This team does not lack for talent.

What they also do not lack is a preponderance for self-doubt, throw-in-the-towel, fatalistic, roll-over-and-die…ness.

Chan Gailey mentioned this in the preseason. He saw it in the game against Pittsburgh—you know, the one where the teams play all their starters for most of the game? He said (my paraphrase) that the team gave up too quickly on defense. They had been completely dominant up until allowing Pittsburgh a third-and-very-long conversion from their own goal line. Then they were just in a daze, which the Steelers were happy to take advantage of, marching down the field for a score before half-time. Prior to that, the defense was truly amazing. After that, they were truly horrendous.

Somewhere on this team (I’m still hoping it’s not all of the team) there is a good deal of “loser mentality” that accepts (almost welcomes) being run over (literally) by the opponent.

Somewhere else, there’s the never-give-up, fight to the finish that we saw last year. But it’s been gone for a while now, and the team’s record shows it. They are 3-10 since last October 30th.

(Note: I offer that statistic knowing full well there are many factors. It is still factual. 3-10.)

Thurman Thomas' Super Bowl XXVIII fumble

The Thurman Thomas Fumble

What Bills fan can forget the four straight Super Bowl appearances? We may try, but it’s still enough of an accomplishment that it’s oft-mentioned with pride.

There was the heart-breaking wide right of Super Bowl XXV, then the dominant performance by Mark Rypien and the Redskins offense in Super Bowl XXVI, the disastrous blowout in Super Bowl XXVII, followed by the deflating fumble by Thurman Thomas in Super Bowl XXVIII.

Do you remember that play? The Bills had a good lead into the third quarter of that game. On an offensive possession in the third quarter, Thomas fumbled the ball away, and the Cowboys scored on the return. After that score, the game was still tied, but that didn’t matter. Somehow (see above) the Bills knew they were going to lose—and they played like it.

The Cowboys went on to score a few more times and ended up with an “easy” win, when the reality was, the Bills had been in it, even winning it into the third quarter.

I believe that same thing happened in yesterday’s game.

The Bills had a good, solid lead into the third quarter. Donald Jones scored on a long TD play from Fitzpatrick to make the score 21-7. The Bills had held New England in check (well enough that they had only scored 7 points!) and they had been able to move the ball and score. All was well.

Then the Pats answered.

They moved the ball by running AT WILL. It was bad. Large chunks of yards. It really seemed like the defense was stunned. (See #1 above…) I think they actually were. They were barely moving at the snap of the ball. They seemed shocked that the Patriots—or anybody—could put up yards like that against them on the ground.

(This is almost a case of the opposite of the “loser mentality”, where they seemed to think they were “too good” for that to be happening.)

The Patriots marched down the field and scored their second touchdown of the game, and even though the Bills were still winning, the entire team was completely deflated and had (apparently) already given up the game.

Just like in Super Bowl XXVIII.

Too Much Money?

Everyone in Buffalo is questioning Mario Williams.

Clearly, the expectations were high (probably too high) when he arrived. He was to be the savior of the team. The next coming of Bruce Smith, forever beloved by all Bills fans everywhere.

But Mario Williams was not and is not and will not be Bruce Smith. So far, he’s not even Aaron Maybin. (OK, maybe not that bad…)

The craziest part to most of us fans aside from just being unnoticeable is that he also seems to not care. You can’t really know whether or not someone “cares”, but he just doesn’t seem to “go after it” as they say. There’s no energy to his play. And he’s going up against guys he should just completely dominate as a former 1st overall pick (or even just as a 6’6″ 292 lb “freakish” athlete, as some of his teammates have described him).

My wife commented earlier in the preseason that Fitzpatrick “doesn’t seem to care”, either. Is there something to this? What’s going on with these guys with their mega-bucks contracts? Is part of the reason for (at least slightly) lackluster play or effort due to the fact that they’ve already made their (guaranteed) millions? Perhaps…

I’m actually (strangely) hoping it’s more due to #s 1 and 2 above. But, when you’re not working to get paid … it’s easy to get a tad (or more than a tad) lazy.


What do we say then about these Buffalo Bills? After week one, they were the laughing stock of the NFL. The hapless NY Jets (who have indeed appeared quite hapless since week one) put up 38 points on their newly renovated, brick wall defense. Then a pretty sound thrashing of Kansas City (akin to what NY had done to them one week prior) turned the conversation around—or, at least, confused it—and all was at least OK again in Buffalo. After a comfortable-but-challenging win (on the road) in Cleveland—with zero INTs from Fitzpatrick—things were looking up again, even to the third quarter of the game against New England.

45 second-half points later, and the sky is falling, the season is over, and all the familiar refrains resound throughout Bills-landia.

WHEN will it EVER END!?

It only ends when this team decides that they can and they will win. Two big (and I do mean “big”) setbacks are the loss of Cordy Glenn and Kraig Urbik will both be out for 2-3 weeks or more. That’s not good news for a line that was looking like it might be the best in the NFL (until yesterday). Add on the upcoming schedule: @ San Francisco, @ Arizona, Tennessee, @ Houston, and @ New England (followed by Miami at home 4 days later)… things do not look well for the Bills.

However, there’s still reason for hope. (If you’re an optimist like me.)

Surprisingly, Ryan Fitzpatrick leads the league—all by himself—with 12 TD passes. (He also has thrown 7 INTs, which also ties him for the league lead, unless Jay Cutler has a bad night tonight… hmm… doesn’t he always?) CJ Spiller doesn’t lead the league anymore, but he’ll be a week healthier next week, as will Fred Jackson. Scott Chandler seems to be a top-tier tight end. We do still have Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus and the rest of the DL (even if Mario is a no-show). Leodis McKelvin has been pretty impressive when returning kicks (didn’t really get to yesterday).

If this humiliating defeat was a good, hard slap to the face for the Bills players (and, if they actually do care about winning) then I expect they’ll have a big turnaround in effort, attitude, and hopefully results this week. San Francisco lost to Minnesota (they did!) but they also shut out the Jets. (In New Jersey, no less!!) So, it’s a tall task, especially if you watched that 45-pt second half unfold. But it’s doable.

All depends on how the team responds to what happened yesterday.

If Buffalo is cursed, I guess there’s not much we can do. Otherwise, I think they do have the talent they need to have a winning season. They’ll have to win at least one more than they lose the rest of the way to do that.

At this point, that feels like wishful thinking. Sunday in San Fransisco, they get a chance to start making it reality.

Things Are Looking Rosy for the Buffalo Bills in 2012! (Really… they are!)

Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, Mark Anderson, Shawne Merriman, Chris Kelsay

Yes, fans, football season is upon us!

Tonight the Bills will take the field for the first of four “warm up” games. This evening they play the Washington Redskins at home. (That means that we get to watch it one day later, since we will not be at the game!) If you are a fan of our team, you’ll recall that our quite-sorry defense put on a 10-sack, shut-out performance against this opponent last year! Wow!

Don’t expect a shutout tonight. (Even with a vastly improved defense!) In fact, don’t really expect to learn anything from the score, win or lose.

Preseason games are weird. It’s really not about the game plan, or the scoring, or anything that might matter in a regular NFL game. It’s more about seeing mostly the backup players in “game conditions”. You want to see who should fall where on the roster once the season begins. It’s about “getting into football shape” (readjusting to the quickness of real football, actually hitting people, stuff like that).

At least, that’s what I’ve heard… 🙂

So, rather than discuss tonight’s game here, I thought I’d give me somewhat regular, somewhat annual preview of the upcoming Buffalo Bills season!


Believe it or not, there are many. (And those aren’t just Bills-colored glasses!) But, check the reasons for pessimism that follow for the “reality check”.

  1. The Defensive Line
    In the photo at the top of this article—taken on the first day of Bills training camp in Rochester, NY—you see the biggest reason for optimism around Western New York—the greatly-bolstered defensive line! Adding the most prominent free agent (other than Peyton Manning, I suppose) definitely helped. But in addition to Mario Williams, the Bills added Mark Anderson, who had 10 sacks last year. Plus they get Pro Bowler Kyle Williams back, ostensibly healthier than he’s ever been following last year’s surgery. Then there’s Marcell Dareus, last year’s third overall draft pick (who really shouldn’t be overshadowed in anyway, but somehow gets mentioned third or fourth on this line). PLUS, Shawne Merriman seems to be healthy, along with Chris Kelsay. Are you kidding me? If these guys are as good as they seem to be, this defense is going to be fun!
  2. A High-Scoring, Multi-faceted Offense
    I know, it sounds funny. “Who do they have? Uh… Stevie Johnson… and, um… is Marshawn Lynch still on that team?” Right. I know. So far, the Bills (thanks to many losing, non-playoff seasons) are very much “off the radar”. BUT (big but) …

    Last year, Fitzpatrick (he’s the starting QB, the guy with the huge beard) was actually in the top QBs in the league in passing, TDs, rating, etc. Then he got hurt. (After his center(S) got hurt.. and his star RB got hurt… and … yeah. Lots of hurt.) So his numbers dropped off, and people said, “Yeah, that’s just Fitz. He’s not really that good.” But… don’t be so sure.

    Stevie Johnson is that good. Fred Jackson was truly an MVP candidate (leading the league in rushing and close in all-purpose yards through the 10 weeks he played) and CJ Spiller filled in more than admirably. Plus, our receivers may not be known yet, but there is a competition for those roster spots because they don’t know who to cut, rather than whom to keep. (Which is how it has been in years past.)

    Add a one-year-smarter offensive line, plus a couple new players for depth, and, barring injury, this offense should put up some points!

  3. The schedule
    Yes, that may seem silly, but really, it is very much in the Bills’ favor. They begin with three win-able games. First at the division-rival NY Jets (a great game to test/prove their off-season improvements), and then Kansas City in Buffalo and at the Cleveland Browns. They should win at least two of those, because the only tough stretch of the season follows. New England, at San Francisco, at Arizona (maybe not so tough? who is their QB again?). Then they play the Tennessee Titans (Chris Johnson…), at Houston Texans (Mario’s home coming). THEN, get this… the Miami Dolphins, at the Colts, St Louis Rams, Seahawks, at the Dolphins, then Jets at home. THAT is a great way to end the season. Even if they are 5-4 or 4-5 after that second New England game, things look pretty good for a return to the playoffs!


  1. Unproven Talent
    Perhaps this doesn’t need to be said, but, the Bills still have to actually put a whole season together. Injuries are definitely to blame for some of their implosions, but regardless, they still have to show they can do it. Period.

    Can the no-name receivers get it done? Can the very young, inexperienced offensive line perform well enough? Can Fitz be a playoff QB in the NFL?? How about our young secondary? And just who are the LBs again??? Plenty of questions.

  2. Injuries
    OK, this is a weird one, but really… STAY HEALTHY!!! Over the past five years or so, the Bills have been among the (or THE) league leaders in players—important players—on injured reserve. The teams that make the playoffs, and the Super Bowl, have fewer. That said, they also have depth. Until now that has not been true of the Bills, but if they expect to make the post season, they will need fewer injuries!!
  3. It’s Buffalo…
    Sadly, this might be the biggest reason for pessimism! 🙂 Whether it’s the Bills (12 years and counting with no playoffs) or the Sabres (new owner spending lots of money on an already OL-to-good team and still missing the playoffs)… Buffalo seems destined to never quite be good enough.

    The four Super Bowls… Wide Right… the Music City Miracle… the President’s Trophy season with no Stanley Cup. No Stanley Cup. No Lombardi Trophy.

    Yep. Buffalo.

So the good thing about 2012, I’m the opinion of this very long-time Bills fan, is that there really do appear to be more reasons for optimism than pessimism.

Tonight begins the proving of that.

Go Bills!

It’s An Interesting Time To Be A Buffalo Sports Fan

Mario Williams

If you follow sports, you know that Buffalo is more often the butt of a joke rather than a real “player” in whichever sport is being discussed.

Whether that’s deserved, or not, that’s usually how it goes.

They do bring it on themselves. Neither the Buffalo Bills, nor the Buffalo Sabres have won the championships for their leagues. (Note: The Buffalo Bills were two-time, back-to-back AFL Champs in ’64 & ’65, before the league merged with the NFL. But usually that doesn’t “count”.)

Year after year they seem to lose the good players they already have (Drury & Briere?, Most every Buffalo Bill?), allow potential “big name” free agents and draft choices to slip through their fingers, and then of course there’s the matter of wins and losses; playoff appearances and lack thereof.

Somehow Buffalo fans endure the endless hardships, and continue to support their teams more than most pro sports fans around the country.

But last year, something changed.

I wrote about the apparent change, even though it was still developing at that point. It all started with the Sabres being purchased by not just a billionaire with deep pockets, they were purchased by a Sabres’ fan. The way he began to run the team, on and off the ice, really started to change the way people felt about at least one of the Buffalo sports teams.

Could we finally have a real chance at a championship?

In the first season of free agency, the Sabres went out and pursued the most coveted player (Brad Richards), and though they came up just short there, they managed to sign Christian Erhoff, who was the top defenseman available. And not only did they sign him, they made him quite wealthy, to boot!

Very unlike a Buffalo sports team…

So, expectations were very high at the beginning of the season.

Then came the 2011 Buffalo Bills. In their second year of the most recent rebuild, they got off to a nice 2-0 start, and really got on everyone’s radar with a stunning 21-point comeback win over the despised New England Patriots! Heads turned, and wins even kept coming. After two losses by just 3 points each, the Bills were at 6-2, coming off a dominant, shut-out victory over the Redskins. But, unknown at the time, their QB was injured (broken ribs), and that injury was just adding to a somewhat unbelievable steadily growing list.

The Bills were not just injured (ridiculous number of players out for the year on IR), they were dealing with injuries to really key players: starting center (and most of the rest of the offensive line, actually), Pro Bowl DT Kyle Williams (the heart of the defense), and Fred Jackson, who was having an MVP-type season through seven games or so. The players try to minimize the impact injuries have on wins and losses, but it’s really undeniable that the 2011 season was greatly impacted by the amount and significance of the players lost, as well as the length of time they were out.

Strangely, the Sabres—despite the high pre-season hopes—have dealt with very similar issues. Nearly every player on the team has missed many games this season. Even the coach missed a few games due to injury! And as a result, the Sabres are fighting to make the playoffs, despite a roster loaded with “potential”.

Typical Buffalo sports.

But this week, there’s been another apparent change in the direction and attitude of the Buffalo sports teams.

You’ve probably heard that Mario Williams was flown into Buffalo at the very start of free agency (4pm Tuesday March 13th). He is a former number one overall draft pick. He’s the most sought after free agent, at least as defensive players go. (Peyton Manning is also a free agent this year!) And he was going to cost BY FAR the most money of any free agent signing.

And the Bills not only brought him in… they kept him here. For three days!

Today at 1:45pm, the Bills will announce that they have signed him to a mega-huge contract.

What?! The Buffalo Bills???


Not sure what’s going on, but the scene has changed here somewhat. The Sabres have deep (bottomless) pockets with their new owner, and they’re not afraid to use them. And so, they are contenders. (At least on paper?) And apparently, thanks to cap room, and building through the draft the previous two years, the Bills are willing to go out and hire the now highest paid player in the league. Yes! The BILLS!

This is crazy!

Who knows what else will happen this offseason, but so far, the Bills are different. They managed to re-sign a bunch of guys that they could have lost to free agency, Stevie Johnson being the biggest name on that list. Now they signed Mario Williams, who could be the best pass rusher we’ve seen here since Bruce Smith. They are still going to bring in one or two more free agents, likely with at least somewhat recognizable names, and then there’s the draft. (In which the Bills pick 10th, and have multiple picks in some rounds.)

If the beginning of last year (when we had our full roster of players) is any indication, the additions they are making seem to put the Bills into real contention for that ever-elusive league championship!

Perhaps that’s a bit of a jump… but perhaps not!

It is indeed a very interesting time to be a Buffalo sports fan!

The Bills Win! The Bills Win!!

What if the Bills won the Super Bowl??Since today is Super Bowl Sunday, I thought it might be an appropriate day to “talk football”.

Mind you, I am still quite loyally a Bills fan. (In truth, I’m really only a Bills fan, not actually a fan of football or the NFL in general. I know… weird, right?)

So, if you’re a Bills fan, too, or a general football/NFL fan, you’ll likely enjoy this post. If you’re not (and likely there are many of you) … I’d recommend drilling down through all the related links and category tabs here for something else to read today.

But really, how can you escape football on the first Sunday in February? It’s really quite crazy how much this day has become one of the major US—and even global?—holidays. Everyone has a party they are hosting or attending. Big food plans… friends, family, and even lots of non-football fans. (I’m the one at the Super Bowl parties enjoying the food and conversation.)

Today is football day.

So, in light of that reality: WHAT is the deal with the Buffalo Bills?!

The Big Story

Folks are tempted to say that the Bills are just either horribly managed, or under-whelmingly under-talented. (Or would that be overwhelmingly?) And a quick look at their draft pick success rate over the now twelve seasons in which they have failed to qualify for the post season would lead most astute fans of the game to that easy conclusion.

But the Great Collapse of 2011 was actually a result of more than just a lack of talent, or a poorly managed organization.

Throughout the season, the Bills were “playing hurt”. Whether their guys were actually on the sidelines (or not even in the stadium) or if they were in the game but not fully healthy, the Bills were one of the teams hardest hit by injuries this year.

You might say, “But every team has injuries! Man up!” And, actually, most of the players said that throughout the season. It was frustrating me a great deal to not hear the coaches, the GM, or the players saying anything about the insane amount of injuries that this team was having to deal with.

In 2007, the Bills had 17 players on IR. That was just ridiculous. That was the year that Kevin Everett suffered a spinal injury in the very first game of the year. (A game we were privileged to attend.) In 2011, the Bills ended the year with 15 players on IR. Interestingly, an article near the end of the season similarly pointed out what I was seeing and saying… losing key players matters! I have sadly lost my reference to that article, but the gist was that the worst teams had the most injuries and the best had the fewest. Seems obvious, but it’s often overlooked, or downplayed as an “excuse”.

These weren’t just a bunch of players. They were the core. Kyle Williams went down early in the year. Most people say he’s our best player on defense, and he’s definitely a leader on the team in his play and “in the locker room” as they say. Then we lost Fred Jackson, likely our best player on offense. (Oh, and don’t forget that the offensive line lost Eric Wood, it’s best player—and leader—fairly early in the season, and really never fielded the same five guys. A few games featured third and fourth options at center, playing a position they’d never played before!)

And it doesn’t stop there. Just yesterday the Bills published news that QB Ryan Fitzpatrick played the last ten games of the season with cracked ribs. This is something that can affect your throwing accuracy. And a ton of guys never were injured “enough” to be put on IR, but they were less of the players they could be each week… it was just a mess.

Starters were out for many games, or most or even all of the season. Promising rookies were injured for games or the season. Even the kicker was hit with a season-ending injury!

There’s more that could be said here, and it’s certainly not the only reason the Bills finished with such a horrible record after such a promising start. But I contend unequivocally that it was the major reason.

But… Who Are Their Players?

A fine question if you’re not an avid Bills fans. Even casual Bills fans would likely have a hard time naming anyone on this current roster.

That was one of their strengths out of the gate in 2011. They were a team of “cast-offs” and otherwise overlooked players. Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Ivy League perennial backup QB was right at the top of the QB stats while the Bills soared to a 5-2 start. Undrafted-free-agent-from-Division-III-Coe-College RB Fred Jackson was on a torrid pace to perhaps rival Thurman Thomas’ best seasons as a Bill, leading the league in rushing and overall yards from scrimmage on several occasions. Seventh-round pick Stevie Johnson finished the year with over 1,000 yards receiving, becoming the only Buffalo Bill ever to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. (Yes, really!) And no-name TE Scott Chandler took the league by surprise with his “unstoppable” production in the red zone, leading the league in TDs by a tight end when the Bills had their early success.

Add to that some equally unknown, but pretty talented young players from the Nix/Gailey regime’s first two drafts and this team felt they had something to prove. And they were doing it.

(Until the injuries caught up with them… see “The Big Story” above…)

One thing many of the players have said, looking back at last season, is that they were not ready to handle success. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it has some ring of truth to it. They are all young. They have very little experience in meaningful games (and even less as the division leaders that they were at week eight). It could be that. And if so, that’s something they’re going to have to figure out this offseason. Because, if they’re not injured… there’s not much reason this team of “nobodies” can’t get out to the same great start they had last season.

Looking Ahead

One thing that could really hold the 2012 Buffalo Bills back is the amount of potential turnover this team faces. Stevie Johnson leads a long list of fairly “high-profile” players (for the Bills, at least… again, see above re: how there really are no high-profile players in Buffalo) who might be free agents come March 13th. The Bills and he both say they are attempting to negotiate a contract, but no agreement has been reached just yet.

If the Bills let a lot of players go, and bring in a lot of new players via the draft and free agency, that will be at least a moderate challenge. They are already going to be working with a new defensive coordinator as Dave Wanndstedt took over that role right after the close of the 2011 season. There has been a little bit of shuffling in the coaching staff as a whole as some guys were let go, some left, and new coaches have been hired.

There are still some needs on this team (and no, it’s not starting quarterback…) that will definitely be addressed. Here’s a short list:

  • DEPTH. That’s easy. Hardly any team could have withstood the freakish injury list Buffalo dealt with last season, but they clearly need to have talented and/or experienced depth at many positions going into next season, maybe especially offensive line.

  • SECOND WIDEOUT (AND FIRST??) If Stevie stays, then we need a second wideout. If he goes, we’ll need two. Three of the guys Buffalo was counting on this year were out for most or all of the year (Donald Jones, Marcus Easley, and Roscoe Parrish). There’s no guarantee any of those guys are even the player they want anyway. The Bills will almost definitely go after a free agent WR, or address that position in the draft.

  • PASS RUSH. With Shawne Merriman still a BIG question mark, the Bills need to figure something out re: their putrid pass rush. When you take away their 10-sack game against the Redskins—which turned out to be a bit of a mirage, I suppose—they really produced almost no pressure at all on the opposing QBs. Marcell Dareus looks to be a good player, and we know Kyle Williams is, but they need more here (DL, LBs) so this spot will likely be addressed, too.

  • BACKUP QB. With the revelation this week that Fitzpatrick played the last ten games with cracked ribs, you have to think that was at least partially because the coached didn’t/don’t trust their backups. Tyler Thigpen and Brad Smith (whom they were forced to use as a WR for much of the last half of the season, again, due to injuries) are not the answer. Plus, a little competition never hurts. Expect the Bills to add at least one quality QB option. (But again, NOT to start.)

What the Bills most need to do is figure out why they can’t stay healthy! If it’s not a curse, I really don’t know what it is! 🙂

Early Predictions

Yeah… right!

With so many options in front of them, there’s really no way to predict what will happen with the Bills in 2012. But I will say this… they are not as far away as some think. Really.

Of course, most will say, “Ahhh, he’s just a Bills fan! AND an optimist! Don’t listen to a word he says!” But, if you say that, it’s rather odd that you’re ~1,600 words into something you shouldn’t listen to…

That aside, I must say the core of the young guys on this team really do show signs of life (and longevity?) that the Bills haven’t had for a while. The amount of free agents to sign seems a foreboding task, and certainly some of these guys are still hoping to fully recover from some devastating injuries in 2011. But still… the Bills are at least going in the right direction.

Poor Mr. Wilson (who is rapidly nearing his turn at joining the centenarian club) must be so tired of hearing that phrase though. He needs them to “go” a bit more quickly in the “right direction”.

Better still, he needs them to reach the right destination.

Could 2013 be the February we hear or read the words, “The Bills Win! The Bills Win!!! Buffalo has WON the SUPER BOWL!!!”

Probably not. But this Bills fan can dream …

Tim Tebow: The Power of Belief

Tim Tebow is really not that good. At quarterback. Have you noticed?

Before his 80-yard TD pass on the first play of overtime in his first NFL playoff game, Tebow was a “magical” 9 for 20 for 236 yards and 1 TD. (That yardage total is actually pretty impressive on only 9 completions!) The best part about his 300-yard, two-touchdown game was that there were no turnovers. When he played against my Buffalo Bills he was nearly the sole reason that Denver was blown out by the Bills second and third string replacement players. (Yes, it was that kind of a season for Bills fans… but we did celebrate a win that game!)

To be fair, I only watched maybe 10 game-minutes of the game, but what I saw was Denver’s defense making it almost impossible for a hobbled Ben Roethlisberger to do anything on nearly every down, and I saw Tim Tebow throwing the ball off-target, or even in the dirt more times than not.

So what gives with this Tebowmania?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I really do think he’s a great kid. And if you listen to anything he says in interviews, it’s top-notch. He’s not some crazy cliche-spouting Christian who just likes to say, “Thank you, Jesus!” and “Praise the Lord!” any chance he gets. Yes, he might say stuff about Jesus a bit too much for the liking of some, but he’s really not obnoxious about it.

AND, the best part is, he never gives Jesus the “credit” for the win. Nor does he imply that God wanted him and his team to win more than the other. I believe he’s said the opposite. (That God doesn’t really care who wins the game.)

He’s a super team player, always crediting his teammates, and you can tell he just loves playing football.

But why the Tebowmania?

The one thing that Tim Tebow brings to his NFL team is… no, it’s not just “winning”. If we’re crediting just him—one player—with wins and losses, he did lose some games this year. (Again, to be fair, he was actually 7-2 this season, after taking over full time for whoever Denver had starting ahead of him at the beginning of the season. So he did win many more times than he lost. Except against the Bills.)

What he brings is his attitude. Not only a never-say-die, competitive attitude. It’s a positive attitude. And the part that matters is, it doesn’t just affect him and his play. His teammates believe in him, and somehow, his positive attitude—his belief in himself—is so infectious that they believe more in themselves.

The Denver Broncos players believe that they have a better chance to win games because Tim Tebow is their QB. Not necessarily because he’s going to Drew Brees someone with a 500-yard, 6 TD game. (They probably know that is not going to happen.) And not just because they know his will to win never quits. No matter the score, they’re never out of it. (Except in that game in Buffalo! Ha!) 🙂

Tim Tebow is a positive person. He gets his strength from his belief and trust that Jesus is who he said he is, and that that is the most important thing in life. So from his core, he exudes a confidence and a positive, others-oriented attitude. That is something that his teammates pick up on, and start to think inside themselves.

When 53 guys are thinking that way on game day … a win is a very likely outcome.

So it’s really not what Tebow does on the field. (Though you can’t deny that he usually doesn’t hurt their chances… except against Buffalo! Sorry… that was the last time.) 😉

It very much is who he is off the field. Good for you, Mr. Tebow. My boys definitely look up to him (as aspiring football players themselves) and I’d say he’s certainly worth looking up to.

Even if he is a pretty awful NFL quarterback. 🙂