The Buffalo Bills staged their new uniform unveiling party last week at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The event was well received as thousands of Bills fans were present to see the new uniforms, which have been received around the NFL with a positive spin.
The Buffalo Bills veteran players in attendance—Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Steve Tasker, Charley Ferguson and Booker Edgerson—wore the new uniforms, in addition to members of the military that are either from Western New York or are currently stationed there. Fans were able to see the new home and road jerseys, in addition to the cool new helmets, which feature the red charging buffalo on the side of a white helmet.
The only part of the unveiling that was rather odd was that there were none of the current Bills players on hand to display the uniform, which I am sure was a direct result of the lockout. It is a shame that the players couldn't have experienced some of the applause and joy of the event, since they are the ones that will be asked to produce blood, sweat and tears while wearing them in game action.
The new uniforms were good for allowing notable Bills, current and retired, to get some face time in the national media. Good exposure for the Bills, especially with so little true football going on right now.
Jim Kelly has proclaimed that the white helmet is his favorite part of the new uniform, as he loves the way that the red buffalo really "pops" off of the white background. In case you missed it, Jim Kelly appeared on a segment of NFL Network, and here is a link to his comments about the Bills and the new jerseys. The segment also listed the record of all the Bills' starting QBs since Kelly retired. Not a pretty list folks.
Steve Johnson dropped by the studios of ESPN and presented a new jersey to ex-Bills defensive lineman Marcellus Wiley. This was a rather funny segment, which also featured Cris Carter getting all over Johnson for wearing a tank top to a press conference in 2010.
Johnson also did a segment on fashion at ESPN, which also included some rapping he did at Kentucky.
In case you missed it, Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com did a neat piece on how long the uniform change process took, along with the NFL's involvement every step of the way.
Now the question we ask is this: Will the new uniforms be viewed as part of a positive change in the attitude and fortunes of the Buffalo Bills? Will the teams that wear these jerseys (which have a distinct retro feel to the old royal blue of the AFL Championship team years), be able to represent with a winning record and multiple playoff trips, or will they be an extension of the 11 years and counting of no trips to the playoffs?
The vibes surrounding the 2011 edition of the Buffalo Bills are generally positive. The genuine hope that the NFL and the players can get their act together sometime in the next two weeks to bring about a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that will bring peace between the owners and the players for the next eight to 10 years would be a very welcome sight for all parties involved, including the Bills fan base.
For Chan Gailey, Buddy Nix and new coach Dave Wannstedt, the lifting of the lockout can't happen soon enough. Those sentiments are echoed by the draft class of 2011, along with their agents, who are in need of some money and coaching, not necessarily in that order.
You know full well that Buddy Nix has some undrafted rookie free agents that they want to sign. You know that Nix is anxious to begin negotiations with the Bills' free agents that they really want to bring back to the team. From Paul Posluszny, to Donte Whitner, to Drayton Florence, you expect that some of them will come back, but maybe not all.
For Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bills' young skilled players on offense, and the newest Buffalo Bills rookies that will bring new blood and a higher energy level to the defense, summer camp can't begin fast enough.
The Bills are scheduled to unveil the new uniforms in a game setting on August 13, when they travel to open up the exhibition schedule at the Chicago Bears. That game is right around the corner, as it is just six weeks from tomorrow. Six weeks to give a mini-crash course to the rookies, negotiate and sign the free agents and the entire rookies draft class. Six weeks to work in the new plays and schemes.
It is going to be a strange camp and weird exhibition season due to the small window of time allowed to cram everything in. Personally, I am sorry to see the events that unfolded the way that they did, because the Bills are no doubt one of the teams that will be hurt the most by the effects of the lockout. That is due to being a younger team, having so many rookies coming in to play a key role on defense, and so little time to learn the system and schemes.
In addition, this was to have been Ryan FItzpatrick's first summer camp as the unquestioned starter and leader of the offense, and now that will be a condensed version as well. We are not trying to make excuses for the Bills, as it is the same scenario for every other NFL team.
So, let's hope that cooler heads can prevail, and that greed can be diminished long enough to bring a new CBA to fruition. We are anxious to see how many wins will happen with those new uniforms, and if a return to glory is around the corner. Let's hope we have positive news within the next two weeks to report. Stay tuned.