One of the biggest surprises since the hiring of Rex Ryan as head coach of the Buffalo Bills was the trade deal that sent Kiko Alonso to Philly to reunite with Chip Kelly in exchange for LeSean McCoy. Like many Bills fans, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor when that trade went down.
First of all, those types of player for player trades rarely happen anymore, let alone over the course of about a half-hour while hanging out on a yacht drinking wine. It was reported that Doug Whaley asked Chip Kelly to look over the Bills roster to see if there was a player they would like to trade for McCoy, and the rest is history.
We will definitely miss #50. Kiko Alonso’s personality was well suited for the raucous football fans of Buffalo. He spoke with a voice like Sylvester Stallone in the Rocky movies. In fact, I laughingly told friends that I wanted to hear him say “Hey Adrian” just once. The fact that he is now going to be playing in Philly will cement that image in my mind forever.
It was Kiko’s incredible performance during his rookie year that led to the birth of the hashtag #TheLegendOfKikoAlonso on Twitter. Kiko’s play on the field as a guy with a nose for the ball only amplified his blossoming legacy in Buffalo. Then he was traded.
No doubt this was a good trade for both sides. Kiko will be happy being reunited with his college coach, and LeSean McCoy found a home to his liking as well. All is well in Bills country, right?
I wouldn’t be a Bills fan if I didn’t find something to worry about, so as I watched Rex and Doug put together the biggest free agency in the history of the team, I also wondered who was going to pick up the swag being lost with the exit of both Kiko and Brandon Spikes (note: still holding out hope the Bills re-sign him) at the linebacker positions.
Not that Preston Brown, Nigel Bradham, Ty Powell and other prospects wouldn’t bring their own flavor along, but come on. Kiko and Brandon contributed a lot to team chemistry on that defense. Who would fill the void?
Every team needs a player that gives each franchise a distinct personality. Kiko grabbed that role right away when he was drafted by the Bills. Fans loved his jocular nature on the sidelines. This video best represents what Kiko brought to the table as a teammate.
Like others, I’ve learned over the years that chemistry on a football team is not something that can be created willy-nilly. Team chemistry sometimes happens like spontaneous combustion. You put the right ingredients together, and you get what Brandon Spikes refers to as the “POWwWwWwWwW” factor.
After watching what may likely turn out to be one, if not THE most magnificent free agency in Bills history, I wondered how much more the face of the team would change with the recent draft. I wasn’t very optimistic that without a first round pick that the Bills would be drafting any players likely to impact team chemistry in their rookie year.
Frankly, it seemed like an odd draft for the Bills this year. No number one pick, but a free agency period the likes of which we’ve never encountered. We are still trying to wrap our heads around this reality; Rex Ryan, LeSean McCoy, Charles Clay, Percy Harvin, Jerome Felton, and more. Oh my!
When the draft was completed, like others, I decided I wanted to find out more about the TE the Bills drafted in the 6th round, Nick O’Leary. Generally don’t get caught up in a player’s pedigree, so I was probably less impressed than most about Nick being the grandson of golfing great Jack Nicklaus.
Like many sports fans these days, I immediately went to youtube to find out more about Nick O’Leary. I had read some of the pre-draft information on Nick, but not much more than to note that he had won the Mackey Award for the best TE in college football.
When I found this gem of an interview he did on August 11, 2014 , I nearly fell out of my chair. I thought I was seeing the TE version of Kiko Alonso.
The almost “Rocky-ish” voice, the short curt sentences, the bored look with the media. “IT” was right there staring me in the face.
Then I watched him play. Check out some of his college highlights and tell me this guy doesn’t play with the same chip on his shoulder as Kiko does.
I was amazed. Nick O’Leary oozes swag, and obviously out plays his physical limitations on a regular basis, just like Kiko does.
Kiko does not have the body structure of a typical linebacker. He is on the small side, and has to work hard to keep weight on, especially late in the season. However, that didn’t stop him from earning PFWA Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013.
Nick O’Leary also lacks some of the physical attributes considered most desirable for the TE position. His arms are considered short. He isn’t the fastest guy. But oh my goodness, does he ever make up for that with his work ethic and feel for the game.
Creating a legend as a football player (or any role in life) takes time. By definition, no one really qualifies as a legend during their rookie year. However, Kiko showed us as Bills fans that if the right guy comes along that can capture the imagination of a fan base, a legend-in-the-making can be quickly identified.
Though #TheLegendOfKiko met it’s abrupt ending before it really got started, perhaps it’s greatest legacy will be that it may lead to the birth of #TheLegendOfNickO instead. Put on your homer glasses proudly, Bills fans. We are closing in on training camp this summer with a new legend in the making. #TheLegendOfNickO
Post Note: I’d like to thank @NewBillsDynasty for this preview tweet yesterday:
— J.West (@NewBillsDynasty) May 15, 2015