It’s been a tough football century. Sure, there’s over 80 percent of it left for teams I like to learn useful scoring and halting techniques. But the trend line has barely inched upward to inspire irrational hopefulness. The patient remains comatose.
Not having a job in prison is a punishment because idleness leads to thinking about what’s happened. The bye aches for reasons greater than a missing contest. Our crime was following a club with a local connection. That doesn’t seem like it should be an offense.
Two weeks between kickoffs means time to ponder just how few happy results there have been on game days. Are the Buffalo Bills going to disappoint like they did in Cincinnati on a broader scale? I miss having a fresher example. Thinking of earlier seasons isn’t helpful. I wondered if the record over time is as bad as it seems. It is, if that’s reassuring.
Following the Bills makes regular life seem less frustrating by comparison. There are few recent pleasant memories from the day before pro action to sustain me, as Syracuse is my college team. I have a vague memory of walking across campus, attending a class or two, and even possibly erroneously being awarded a diploma.
Whether paid in money or tuition, players I follow haven’t produced the results they like. The math depresses in its indifference. Since 2000, Buffalo and Syracuse have a combined 204-286 record. I interviewed several football experts, and all classified the percentage as poor.
Graduating to the pros hasn’t meant improvement. It turns out other NFL teams have exhausted amateur eligibility, which in Buffalo’s case makes them hard to beat. The Bills contributed 115 wins and 162 losses to that mark if you wonder why crabbiness is the natural reaction. At least your senses are correct.
Naturally, there hasn’t been much advancing. We know just how many playoff appearances the Bills have made. Simultaneously, my college is 3-1 in minor postseason affairs since Y2K didn’t happen. I cherish a win in something called the Insight.com Bowl. Also, I did enjoy attending two Pinstripe Bowl wins under Doug Marrone, who in turn became the source of many pro woes. The universe balances itself.
There was once a vague sense that I started following because it seemed fun. It seems as distant as ’90s woes when I felt embarrassed to wear a shirt celebrating a losing Super Bowl appearance. Enduring Hypercolor and Semisonic was far worse than being perpetual NFL runners-up.
Youths get into fandom thinking that tracking the action looks fun. We were poor, sad, sweet things. Waiting for championships feels even further off than the Han Solo movie. I dream of a side I back simply performing consistently decently.
The imitation of real life occurs in the toughest way possible. Football is more of a reflection than distraction. Getting by in this world is not going to be easy, so at least leisure time prepares us.
Sports are a zero-sum game. There are no situations where both parties can be winners. Participate in a free-market transaction where both buyer and seller are pleased at the result for a change of pace.
As for the party that seems to get ripped off frequently, only jealousy could make morale worse for Bills fans. Other fans got to enjoy victories at our expense because that seems fair. It’s well past time to make someone else sad.
I’m long past expecting the cosmos to even out. With a 3-2 record this year, the Bills are up to 59 games under .500 all-time. Fans just want to regain some of that ground. It won’t reverse historical trauma. But it would be enough to have a pleasant present season. So, that’s how life works.
One good season would make multiple previous crummy editions easier to leave behind. All of the earlier pain would melt away. At the least, it wouldn’t ache so much.
The best way to overcome trauma is to find something enjoyable today. The next fun thing won’t fix the previous rotten ones. But there’s nothing that can erase falling down the stairs yesterday. All we can do is watch our steps today.
A recent pleasant memory can push aside a dozen bad previous ones. Syracuse’s win of the century over Clemson was more than just the greatest moment of my life: it’s a sign that improvement is possible despite scar tissue. I’ll be joyously referencing the triumph nobody anticipated until the next Carrier Dome roof is replaced.
The next pro win would help immensely despite difficulties in acquiring them previously. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have a mascot named Captain Fear, but they’re the ones who should be scared of a team off its bye. Buffalo’s defense just has to sustain its bad mood for a few more days. Imagine if they didn’t have to win mostly on their own.
This year’s version has set the agenda in spurts. No roster members have coped with the entire 21st century of Bills’ misdeeds. Our best hope for salvation was always going to be someone blessed without our memories. Eh, it’s not so bad. I mean, it has been, but a good tomorrow beats a bad previous week. At least that’s what I’ve heard.
Editor’s babble: Thanks to Anthony Bialy for his contributions to our blog. You can follow on Twitter @AnthonyBialy.