For a generation of Buffalo Bills fans, trust in the franchise has been a foreign concept.
I was 14 when, on January 8th, 2000, the Music City Miracle happened, and with it went the last playoff appearance for Buffalo. The playoff streak can now drive, buy a ticket to a R-rated movie, and in a few scant months can serve in the military, buy a pack of smokes and get a porno mag (the last two are such a foreign concept for anyone actually turning 18 this winter thanks to logic and the internet). In that time, Ralph Wilson and the Pegulas have brought in a series of coaches and quarterbacks ill equipped to handle the pressures of being a success in Orchard Park, with each compounding upon itself.
Think about it. Coaches like Dick Jauron and Chan Gailey were nice uncle figures in way over their heads. Gregg(gggggggggggggggggg) Williams and Mike Mularkey were not ready to be managing a team as head men. Doug Marone was such an asshole, he called himself Saint Doug for going .500 then took $4 million and a positional coaching role in Jacksonville, because money and quitting was better than being the head man. And Rex Ryan…he talked. A lot. And got his truck wrapped, talked shit and got 31 games.
Quarterback, the glamour position in sports, has been even worse. Between retreads (Drew Bledsoe, Ryan Fitzpatrick), noodle arms (Trent Edwards), OH SWEET JESUS JUST COME IN FOR A YEAR AND MAYBE IT’LL WORK (Kyle Orton) and all the other disasters (Alex Van Pelt, JP Losman, EJ Manuel), Bills fans have been fed a steady diet of nothingness, failing to fulfill on promises that weren’t even lofty to begin with.
Which brings us to Thursday, November 2nd. The 5-2 Buffalo Bills travel on a short week to the 3-5 New York Jets for the annual Thursday tilt with Gang Green. This game was thought of so lightly in the NFL that its one of just three Thursday Night Football games that are an NFL Network exclusive, which is like complimenting a popsicle on how warm it is. Few believed our hometown team would be in position like this in Week 9, and if you did, good for you and say hi to Santa when he stops by next month.
The truth is, this game will define a generation of Bills fans. If you are currently between the ages of 16 and 35, we deserve a team that’s successful and coming from nowhere. We deserve Tyrod Taylor as the best franchise quarterback since Jim Kelly, and we should be able to tell the old-timers at the bar defending Jack Kemp that Kemp never in a million years could evade a rush and flick it downfield as casually as you toss a Halloween candy wrapper in the garbage. We deserve Sean McDermott, like the coolest gym teacher ever, telling us to #TrustTheProcess and believe when no one else does. We deserve this because seriously goddammit, we’ve put up with a lot since we could consciously choose to root for this team instead of just inheriting this mess from our elders.
Thursday night at MetLife Stadium, near the Jersey swamps where so many bodies and dreams are buried in the muck and mire, the Buffalo Freaking Bills have a chance to make an entire new generation say, Holy crap they can do this for real, and its not just the alcohol talking (although maybe it’s a little bit of the alcohol). This is the biggest game in Bills franchise history since Week 17 of 2004. I don’t remember what happened in that game, and it doesn’t matter. Don’t let the old scribes and talking heads tell you how you should act and feel. Scream until you’re hoarse, call in sick and let’s go do this damn thing.
An entire generation needs this.