The Buffalo Bills have gone 13 straight seasons without qualifying for the playoffs. It's the longest active streak in the NFL, three seasons longer than any other franchise.
However, new linebacker Manny Lawson didn't know about the team's extended run of mediocrity.
When it was brought up to him during his introductory press conference at 1 Bills Drive, Lawson admitted he didn't know about the Bills' struggles since the turn of the millennium, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN).
"I did not know," Lawson said, shortly after signing a four-year, $12 million contract. "That's new knowledge to me."
Not that it matters, because it has now become Lawson's intention to play a role in helping end the NFL's longest active streak.
"I look at myself as coming here to change things," he said.
A lot of players have arrived in Buffalo with similar intentions over the past 13 years, including NC State teammate Mario Williams, who arrived last offseason to much fanfare. None have succeeded in turning the franchise around.
It's not a major surprise Lawson didn't know about the long postseason drought. He probably knew about the more recent issues. Regardless, hearing that his new team has missed the playoffs for almost double the amount of time he's been in the league probably opened his eyes to the situation he's entering.
With no disrespect to Lawson, who should fit well in Buffalo's changing defensive scheme and comes at a reasonable price, signings like him are exactly why the Bills continue to struggle. He's a solid contributor, but he's not a game-changing player.
The Bills watch as players grow on their roster, but they can't figure out a way to keep the talent in Buffalo. Guard Andy Levitre is the latest example. He developed into one of the league's best players at the position, but he bolted to the Tennessee Titans (via USA Today) during his first chance at free agency.
It's happened far too often during the 13-year drought. The Bills watch as talented players, the potential building blocks for a playoff team, walk away. They are then forced to replace them with journeymen like Lawson or draftees.
The veteran replacements are good enough to help the team remain in the 6-10 range—Buffalo's record in three of the past four seasons—but not good enough to flip that mark to 10-6, which is normally what it takes to make the playoffs.
Maybe Lawson will be different. Possibly the move to Buffalo will revitalize his career, helping the defense reach the potential the team was banking on last season and get the Bills on track to end that extended streak.
Perhaps he would have been better off not knowing about the drought, because now he understands the burden the team carries. There's a lot of work left to do in Buffalo.