The NFL is supposed to be easy. Feel good when your team wins, feel sad when your team loses. For the torturous life of a Bills fan, fandom is so much more complex. If it were as easy as it’s supposed to be, the pounding the Bills placed on the Chiefs wouldn’t come off as empty and hollow.
See, right or wrong, Western New York’s fragile ego lives and dies through the local professional sports teams. The Sabres are nice to have around, and beloved in Buffalo, but 80 percent of the country could care less about hockey, and the NHL is small potatoes compared to the revenue and interest the NFL generates.
The NFL is not just America’s pastime, but one of America’s biggest businesses. It’s the NFL where Buffalo gets to show a national audience a local identity. When the Bills play well, fans aren’t just proud of the team, they carry a incomparable civic pride.
The Bills started the season hot. They beat some bad teams, jumped out to a 5-1 record, and became a story. Marcus Stroud and Donte Whitner charged a fiery defense, special teams played special, head coach Dick Jauron received a contract extension, and Trent Edwards became an NFL buzz word.
Buffalonians were talkin’ proud, while the true meat of the Bills’ schedule—divisional games which the team could prove their hype as legitimate, were in view.
While Buffalonians waited for the team to stake a claim to the division which has eluded them for so long, for the Bills, the wheels came off. Three divisional games followed by a Monday night game in front of a national audience, and the team didn’t just choke, they disappeared.
Jauron was out-coached, and his team was outplayed by every divisional team. While the team’s play intrepidly regressed, what looked after the 5-1 start like minor, fixable issues, quickly bubbled to the surface as major cracks.
One week ago today, and for the three weeks prior, the Bills had an opportunity to win a game which meant something. Games which were viewed nationally, would have kept them in the divisional hunt and in the playoff picture. Not just as a football team, as a community.
Yesterday, against a woefully pathetic Chiefs team, the last pair of CBS announcers called the Bills breaking a franchise record for most points scored in a game. Trent Edwards played well, the running backs ran with purpose, and the defense made critical takeaways.
It was supposed to be fun. Maybe for the players getting paid, it was. Maybe, it was fun, even, for some fans who still hang on to the belief the Bills can elevate into something more.
In Buffalo, the only thing which feels worse than losing, is irrelevancy. Yesterday, the last pair of CBS announcers saw a tree fall in the woods.