If only sucking for Luck was a viable option for the Buffalo Bills at this point, the Bills might be able to find themselves a year from now in a similar position to the Indianapolis Colts, who improved to 7-4 after dropping the Bills by a 20-13 score that all but ends the Bills' fledgling playoff hopes.
It might not be a mathematical elimination, but who's really doing the math? If you've been watching this team all year, you know the pieces as assembled don't add up to a real team, a real contender.
So instead, Bills fans are faced with a very familiar football December that always includes watching other teams play meaningful football games, not watching blacked-out Bills home games and imagining a future where things just might be different because they just have to be at some point, right?
A team has to sell its fans hope that the team can one day win a championship. Otherwise, even being a spectator is useless. If you know already your team has no chance, then what's the fun in being a fan? Like the Chicago Cubs, Bills games are fun to attend, but the Bills aren't in Chicago, and at some point, their lack of success on the field endangers their viability as a small market in an overblown and global league.
My father grew up in North Buffalo surrounded by rabid Yankee fans and decided at an early age to buck the trend and follow his favorite player, Willie Mays, and his New York Giants. When they moved to San Francisco, he kept following them. He would often relay to me the heartbreak of the 1962 World Series, where Willie McCovey's would-be Series-clinching base-hit disappeared into the well-placed glove of Bobby Richardson. He watched them get swept by the Oakland A's in 1989 and blow Game 6, and the Series, against the Angels in 2002. And through it all, he would painfully lament that he would never live to see one his favorite teams (Giants, Bills, Sabres) win a championship.
The Giants have since struck twice after fielding an incredible team around unlikely superstars like Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Tim Lincecum, who seem to be perfectly coached by manager Bruce Bochy.
The silver lining for Bills fans is that the team is better off than it was before Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey came to Buffalo. They've groomed a core of good young players (Eric Wood, Jairus Byrd, C.J. Spiller, Stevie Johnson, Marcell Dareus, Andy Levitre, Cordy Glenn, Kraig Urbik, Stephon Gilmore, Scott Chandler) that can form the nucleus of the team to come for those who can imagine it.
I admit; I have a lot of trouble doing exactly that. But when I see my dad rocking his Giants championship hoodie he ordered the night they won their second World Series in three years, I want to be along for the ride.