January 1, 2018

It’s a new year and I have held this secret too long within only a small circle of friends. Many of you have suspected the truth but it you were probably too uncomfortable to broach. I’m finally coming out: I’m a Buffalo Bills fan.

Many a Sunday I huddled quietly in a back room or sometimes stood in the corner of a seedy barroom. On screen I watched “my team” spend 17 years laboring in obscurity while playing listless losing football. In the face of the obvious each fall the legions of fans in western New York would somehow deny the apparent while allowing a teeny corner of their soul to be given over to hope.

On occasion, too many to count really, as I tried to hide my foolishness, a loved one would enter my TV hidey-hole, see the team’s colors flash across the screen then utter a few cruel, cutting, dismissive comments before spinning and strutting away. This emotional abuse was sealed when, at the end of play, I would return to the world of saner – albeit meaner – humans. Inevitably the mean person would pose the innocent “so who won?” phrase. At that moment the dark clouds that had been circling me suddenly bust forth with crashing effectiveness on my troubled Bills loyalty.

This year began like most; a new coach promising a new order. Oh, we sorry sheep, we looked up, we heard the words, we felt the sunshine quivering up our buttholes and we smiled. Surely this would be different than all the others in this century. Well damn it, it was. We are going to the playoffs!

For our untold troubles over the years we were treated to several small gifts. Lesean McCoy, he is called a running back but that is far too prosaic for the artistry of he who danced, dodged and delivered on one spectacular run after another. The person who put the ball in McCoy’s arms was usually Tyrod Taylor. Some may be too young or too hip to remember the phrase “cool as a cucumber”. It sounds like a forties or fifties praise but Tyrod is all that. He has made Sunday afternoons a treat as I watch him squirm and squirt from the clutches of rushing behemoths only to pause and launch a pass of beauty downfield. Even in losing efforts he is a joy to watch.

The new coach if a bit of an enigma for me.  I think my opinion of the guy would be lower but I can’t help but give him more credit when I see the players frequently praising Sean McDermott even after controversial decisions. Seldom does one head coach get both the “bonehead move of the year” and the “good will under pressure” awards in the same season. The Buffalo Bills operate in near anonymity at all times in the national sports scene.  McDermott changed that one week this season when, to the disbelief of almost everyone he replaced the remarkable Tyrod with the spectacularly unprepared rookie understudy. By halftime the damage was irreparable so Taylor’s return only saved us fans from continuing to watch this Hindenburg re-enactment on live TV. It was a decision oh so wrong.

How does a coach who served up such a wicked brew wipe away the fan’s sour taste? On the final game of the season, with oh so much on the line, he deftly inserted the beloved 12 year defensive lineman (Kyle Williams) into the offensive backfield. On the one yard line, with the game in the balance, the 303 pound Williams took the hand-off from Taylor and bashed his way into the end zone. His first TD in 12 years, he gave the Bills the lead for good and put the team into the playoffs. Sean McDermott, all is forgiven.