Pain in the Past As Buffalo Bills Try a New Future Again

Photo of the “Music City Miracle” from

What are the hundred worst Buffalo sports moments?  And what does it say that we could actually make a list that extensive?  It wouldn’t even take too long: compile it during a lunch break and there’d still be time to finish your Ted’s onion rings.

I only look at scars for the catharsis.  From obvious misses and referee jobs to horrid personnel decisions and a secretary telling Jim Kelly the Houston Gamblers were calling, the pain has provided character.  The truly ghastly failures are like R, S, T, L, N, and E on Wheel of Fortune: those are given to you.  Hardcore fans still fume about Ronnie Harmon’s hands and curse Brad Park’s name.

We have a surfeit of agony, so we may as well put it to use.  I only let myself wonder what would’ve happened if the Sabres had just one more healthy defenseman in the 2006 Conference Finals a few times per week.

UNITED STATES – MAY 26: Hockey: NHL Playoffs, Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (30) upset after yielding goal during Game 4 vs Carolina Hurricanes, Buffalo, NY 5/26/2006 (Photo by Bill Wippert/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images).

Misery is bound to define any fandom, aside from that one in New England which traded souls for tainted rings.  But ours seems to get the intense version where dingoes bite us after we’ve fallen in the lava pit.  The NFL already shares a single championship among 32 teams, and often doesn’t share it well.  The payoff compared to investment makes slot machines seem like a wise retirement plan.  But who’s going to stop pulling the handle?

You’re still here.  Just your presence is impressive, and not just because you’re as charming as you are comely.  The demonstrated loyalty of everyone connected to this star-crossed franchise is as impressive a display of humanity as anything in a Danny Boyle movie.

Last year’s triumph of a playoff loss was a reward for the impossibly dedicated.  I don’t think it attracted many bandwagon fans.  Any rewards that follow are cherished even if they’re as delayed as Amtrak.

Now, we’re supposed to return to scheduled devastation.  Paying numerous guys to not be here is usually a bad sign. The Bills are on the verge of a season we’re told will make us yearn to accelerate until it’s 2019.  Why even bother playing it?  Well, I suppose they’re not doomed to perform as direly as predictions.  After all, that was last year’s lesson.

Sure, we could review how many seasons this century have crushed our dreams.  But this is in large part the roster that finally inverted the standard, including some personnel upgrades.  Life may not necessarily get worse.  Put that inspirational mantra on a mug.

The only way to be happy is to discard the past.  Remember all that stuff that happened?  Well, try to forget it unless you prefer being driven to depressing levels of insanity.  I’m almost sure the next Bills season will be unlike most of the previous ones.  Man, this team really does resemble life.

As one of the dearest things in your life, this franchise may have hurt you before.  In fact, it’s a guarantee you’ve endured pain as a byproduct of choosing to be born.  What were you thinking?  But you can’t enjoy occasional bliss without certain disappointment.  All those failures make us appreciate nice instances even more.

Photo from

Love means making yourself vulnerable.  Feeling closer to a football team than humans we know is way more normal than it should be.  But that’s not about to change and we’re already accustomed to being fond of an inanimate entity.  The only important moment is now, and we can be excited despite the statistical unlikelihood of enjoying what’s next.

Successful predictions ruin the fun, so guess wildly.  Be glad we don’t know what happens next, as it would have discouraged us from following for this long.  If a 2000 you had a list of the pain that would be endured for the next decade or so, you’d be more upset about that than all the computers melting down.

We won’t know what we’ll endure until we learn how to warp spacetime.  Occasionally, the faithful are rewarded as with last year’s precedent of surprising everyone.  That includes some poor Baltimore franchise that thought Buffalo would never grip a wild card.  The Ravens will be out for revenge, sort of.

Life is about broken hearts and failed opportunities.  I’m sorry to crush your hopes.  But Bills fans are prepared for the next flaming anvil life drops on us.  Pain isn’t so bad once you’re accustomed to it.  I knew endless suffering was good for something.

The present future is even less certain than usual, so we may as well enjoy it.  Gambling’s fun as long as you’re not dipping into rent.  Outsiders assure us our bets won’t pay off this year, and we’re used to those kinds of stakes.

Why not hope to be pleasantly surprised?  Nathan Peterman gets the chance to show he can be as efficient as he was during preseason.  And an exciting rookie quarterback with the capacity to either flame out or make our most exciting dreams a reality is going to start one of these days, so let your heart race now.

It’s also nice having a general manager and coach who each seem to know what American football is and even how to make it work.  Both are aware they’re employed by a historically underperforming franchise.  And they’re prepared to cope with a wholly imperfect world.

Life sometimes surprises participants by being pleasant, so cherish best-case scenarios and believe they may actually occur.  What’s the worst that could happen: you end up disappointed?  That’s what all the practice was for.

Editor’s babble: My survival strategy for decades has been to refuse making expectations or predictions about the Buffalo Bills. Having zero expectations has worked well for me, but I understand the obsession all the Miss Cleos out there have about this team. Thanks once again to Anthony Bialy for keeping it real. You can find Anthony on Twitter @AnthonyBialy. 

About Anthony Bialy

Anthony Bialy recently moved back to Buffalo from New York City and acts like he never left. He thinks "Buffalo 66" is biographical and considers it a crime against mankind that Steve Tasker is not in the Hall of Fame. He likes getting Tim Hortons on the way to get Labatt Blue. Follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyBialy.

9 Replies to “Pain in the Past As Buffalo Bills Try a New Future Again”

  1. Now that was an enjoyable article…

    This sums it up:

    Life sometimes surprises participants by being pleasant, so cherish best-case scenarios and believe they may actually occur. What’s the worst that could happen: you end up disappointed?

  2. Apparently Football Outsiders have the Bills with better odds at the top pick in next year’s draft than any team has at winning the Super Bowl…

  3. Joma, I saw that… I see 6-10, 7-9.

    First heartbreak for the Bills–back in “67” my brother took me to the AFL Championship at the Rockpile against the Chiefs… Winner goes to the 1st World Championship Game(SuperBowl)… Bills had won the 2 previous AFL Championships..

    Bills lose 31-7 to the Chiefs-:(

  4. What’s surprising to me is the Bills over/under on wins at most sportsbooks or betting sites is 6/6.5… But I think the payout for the under on that isn’t very good because everyone betting it is crushing the under.

    I will say this…if these guys can pull off another .500+ season, I’ll have to give it up to the coaching staff. Do it once and I can call it luck…hell, DICK had a 13-3 season once! But do it twice back to back with teams that look like they’re going to be drafting top 5…that’s gotta be worth something. That said, I do not trust their process and don’t think they’re going to over achieve again…and I think last year was a lot more luck than skill.

  5. Good article Anthony! I was living in NC during the time of the Eastern Conference finals and it was very painful seeing the Sabres lose the way they did. IMO, the Sabres were the best team in the NHL that season and like you said, if they would have had one more healthy defenseman, I think they would have made it to the Stanley Cup finals and defeated the Edmonton Oilers.

    It seems the years I predicted a record of above .500, the Bills have disappointed and finished either 6-10 or 7-9. Last year I said 4-12 and the Bills went 9-7, so I was glad to be wrong. I will say 6-10 this year (which was their average during the playoff drought). I don’t have lofty expectations for the Bills this season. Making the playoffs last season helped ease the burn I’ve felt from them for years. With having over $80M in cap space next season, I’m very interested in seeing what moves McBeane will make and how they will continue to make over the roster. I like that McBeane has focused more on the QB position than all other GM’s/coaches combined during the drought, but I’m not sure if they have the right QB(s)…only time will tell. I hope McBeane will focus on the O-line, get more reliable weapons at WR and some good pass rushers.

  6. The schedulers sure didn’t do the bills any favors- 3 of the first 4 / 5 of 7 games on the road!
    they’ll probably start out in a hole – 3 wins in the first 7 games will be a major accomplishment. these are good coaches and i see them doing better as the season marches on.
    the bills were 26th in first downs last season and this stat is ripe for improvement. does anyone remember how bad tyrod taylor was / is? OK so his replacement was a pick monster in his first outing so it remains to be seen.
    peterman’s quick passing game should counter the OL woes. just moving the chains and improving TOP should relate to more Ws.

  7. I know Tyrod was limited, but I don’t think they automatically improved by replacing him. There’s a decent chance the passing yards go up this year…but I suspect the running game will deteriorate, turnovers will go up, and the offense will overall be the same or worse. Terrible o-line, less than good QB, less than good WRs…but the offense is going to improve? Don’t see it. Tyrod definitely wasn’t the answer, but he wasn’t ever really the problem either. He was mostly neutral. Some games he was bad…some games he was pretty good. Most he was just neutral. If everything else was going well, he was fine. If everything else sucked, generally so did he. The problem was a very bad offensive plan and lackluster talent. Now the problem is probably just lack of talent.

  8. If the offense is going to improve, it’s primary reason will be better play calling by OC Daboll, and some better than expected performance byPeterman.