Maybe Buffalo sports fans are supposed to be learning patience. There’s not much of a choice. Waiting for improvement is an unavoidably popular hobby connected to cheering for the Bills and Sabres. But backers may no longer have to participate in that depressingly concurrent activity once the culture truly changes. Terry Pegula will be looking to cash in as he hands out contracts during his first free agency as owner.
Each of the city’s big franchises are trying to convince you recent troubles are not indicative of future results. It may have taken yet another restart for both squads to prove that unrequited optimism is not an inherent feature of following. But an owner who’s serious about transformation has a chance to show he’s funding a new attitude.
By record, it’s been frustrating to watch both of Pegula’s teams. To be fair, he inherited franchises with gaping holes, and some infrastructure issues are tough to mend. But fans still don’t have recent playoff appearance memories in which to indulge. The new owner can change that by scooping up talent in order to build the business he wants. It’s time to look forward to the day of cheering for more than having a team around.
As with Pegula, we can be grateful for what the previous owners did while still criticizing results. It should always be amazing that neither of Buffalo’s top acts must fear moving out of state to find work. The fact that Los Angeles doesn’t get to ponder whether or not they’d change the name of the Bills is as remarkable as knowing the Sabres will never live in Kansas City. The commitment to the original home should never be taken for granted. Now, it’s time to pursue greater victories than remaining in the same county.
Framing another year out of the playoffs in context of previous rosters’ failures is unfair to the present team. But that’s too bad, as the 2014 Bills continued a semipermanent trend regardless of how they were celebrating birthdays at McDonaldland the last time those wearing team colors made a postseason appearance. Rookies have been part of less than seven percent of the dubious streak. Hopefully, they’re as sick of sitting out the elimination round as those who have been following for the entire challenging time.
Last season’s squad made progress in both record and performance, although another postseason off shows the process is incomplete. The Bills mortgaged the future without having fun in Vegas that night. The whole point of writing off a chance at developing EJ Manuel was to win that second. The 2015 Bills have to shake off a hangover without having sipped cocktails.
Craving results immediately isn’t unreasonable for a team that’s having a rough century. But the last gamble didn’t pay off either in the present or the future. That shouldn’t deter management from daringness. Thankfully, Buffalo took a chance on a coach who thinks edging into the playoffs is a mentality that should be banished to the past.
The best way to get what you want is to be thankful for what you already have. It’s crucial to not take big things for granted even as little things inspire crabbiness. Sports embody our daily lives by reminding us that suffering is a regular component. Buffalo fans are acutely aware of the resemblance. Watching the stupid Patriots triumph again hurts more for fans of Drew Bledsoe’s second pro team than most.
Maintaining the balance between immersing in hope versus fearing disappointment would be less tricky if the latter didn’t win out so often. We’ve been here before. But there’s no reason to give into despair no matter how much the trend seems unavoidable. Facing challenges doesn’t justify quitting, especially with the prospect of seeing Kiko Alonso lurking within Buffalo’s semi-new defensive scheme. Fans have had enough practice hoping their team gets the most out of the offseason.
At least the owner hurts along with you. Pegula is a fan with more money on the line than those who have invested in a jersey that may go obsolete quickly. It takes nerve to admit an approach isn’t working, especially when changing costs millions of dollars in wasted payroll. For example, the Bills paid Keith Rivers a lot to not play that much. Multiply all the investments that don’t pan out, and getting to be the boss doesn’t seem as enticing.
The only thing more expensive than cutting losses with struggling players is continuing to bankroll a failing approach. New spending constitutes an informed wager. Giving Rex Ryan 5.5 million dollars per year is one tangible sign that ownership is doing more than sputtering platitudes about wanting to overcome previous disappointment. Higher salaries are worth it if they spur success, as it ultimately means spending less money per win. Paying for the transformation will cost Pegula dearly. But the results for which he’s aiming are worth the price.