Kicking The Bills While Their Down

Every year, there comes a time around mid-season when media coverage of the Bills puts me over the edge. And by that, I mean I am no longer content with simply commiserating with my dad about how horrendous the articles are or how we’re never shown on “Fastest 3 Minutes” even when we magically put up more than 30 points or Lee Evans make three touchdowns in one game. No, I can’t bear to keep my distaste to myself for one more day and I riddle off a strongly worded letter to my local sports section—and it’s usually printed. (See last year’s letter here)

You’d think that by now, I would be used to the never-ending ridicule, bias and overall mediocre coverage on both national and local levels. You’d think I would have accepted the fact that no matter what, the Bills never seem to get a fair shake, with it seemingly impossible for reporters and pundits to say one positive thing about this Buffalo team. I honestly believe that even when/if we were to make it to the Playoffs or the Super Bowl someday, everything would still be blanketed with “can you believe the Buffalo Bills made it” –type jabs.

Well, turns out that the time for a classic “Alyssa retort” is now. This time, it was prompted by a link I clicked on that sent me to the blog of a veteran sports writer at my city’s daily, titled “Monday question: The Bills and rooting for an epic loser.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 31: Kicker Rian Lindell of the Buffalo Bills reacts after missing a field goal ion overtime during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on October 31, 2010 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Can you guess what my first problem with this blog post was? Yep, the title. Do you have to say it in such a negative way? (With a photo declaring “Decade of Fail” and featuring an upside down Buffalo with the years 2000-2009 emblazened on it…which, by the way, is so dumb because No. 1, it’s 2010, and No. 2, 2000-2009 isn’t even a decade anyway) I’m not denouncing the fact that we’re losing a lot—there’s not really any way to get around the fact that we are 0-7. What I’m saying is, the Buffalo Bills aren’t just the losers that everyone has crowned them, so to play into that game right off the bat is—in my opinion—irresponsible.

This is a classic example of how a non-Bills fan views “our situation.” As a sports writer, he should be ashamed of himself for not digging a bit deeper to understand things from our perspective. (Yes, he tried to elude to that by inserting quotes from fans at the meet up, but alas his efforts failed because of the non-quote phrases that made up the rest of his piece)

And how exactly do many of us Bills fans view “our situation?” We might be losing, but with every loss like the one to Kansas City this Sunday, or to Baltimore the week before, or even to New England in the early weeks and Jacksonville right before the bye week, comes another emotion besides heartache and dejection: hope.

The die-hards are in this 100 percent, so every game we lose by the skin of our teeth is seen as A) a game we could have and should have won B) Improvement.

We aren’t so disillusioned to believe an almost win technically counts as a win, but in Bills world, it’s almost just as good. At 0-6, a win would have been nice but it wouldn’t have meant all that much. What means more than getting a 1 in the win column is seeing our players actually perform well—getting excited when our favorite gets his much-deserved touchdown and seeing our coaches fired up on the sidelines. It’s proving that we can make a comeback, we can give teams a run for their money and make them sweat a little. That we can make the big plays when we need to and most importantly, while we might be the only winless team in the NFL right now, that doesn’t mean we’re going to just lay down and surrender. We’re going to give our opponents a hard fought game and that’s something to be respected, even IF we haven’t managed to win any of those fierce games, yet.

The team and fans are beat up enough by this point in the season—heck, after enduring year after year of this. A little positivity and fairness never hurt anyone and that’s really all I’m asking for. Deliver a game recap devoid of adjectives that subtly expose your opinion. Print coverage from the losing team’s hometown AND the winning team. Mention one of our achievements on SportsCenter. Compose a commentary piece like this blog post—which was actually supposed to highlight how Bills fans are rallying together to keep spirits up and the faith alive—without focusing on the hardship and gloom. Instead, highlight how great it is that a team “this bad” has such a large, devoted and loyal fan base. That’s really the story here. It’s not how the Bills will be slapped with another losing record, that’s old news.

I know fair coverage can be accomplished because while I’m obviously bias in the sense that only a Bills fan would get mad about things like this, I’m also a journalist and find myself perfectly capable of having objective face-to-face football conversations with people every week, at work, online, at the store. I can analyze a Jets vs Bills or a Giants vs Dallas game without putting down the team I don’t care for.

The real thing worth talking about is how through all the revolving quarterbacks, coaching switches and administrative changes, fans have stuck by this team. Why is that? That is the story that needs to be investigated and it’s about time someone other than us fans took the time to do that. Because frankly, I’m getting sick of having to write rants like this.

I’ll let you know how the letter writing ritual goes. It should be a fun one.

Alyssa Jung

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  • Decade Of Fail

    a couple things…

    1.) the dictionary definition of a “decade” is “a period of 10 years” therefore 2000-2009 is, in fact, a decade.

    2.) even though it’s now 2010, the “decade of fail” website was launched last season (in 2009), when it bec…ame apparent that the team would miss the playoffs for it’s 10th straight year. thus, the “decade”.

    3.) the intent of “decade of fail” is not to kick the team while it’s down, it’s to give everyone something to cheer about IN SPITE of the fact that the team is down. that thing just happens to be losing games in horrific fashion and prolonging one of the most epic playoff droughts in the history of pro sports.

    4.) it’s not meant to be taken seriously or literally, “decade of fail” is tongue-in-cheek humor. i guess you either get it or you don’t.

  • Decade Of Fail

    PS – I’m a season ticket holder and will support this team ’til my death… or it’s death, whichever comes first!

  • Ed Lass

    Well, Mark McGuire is the TU’s sports columnist, not a beat reporter. He’s certainly coming from the perspective of a non-Bills fan, but I wouldn’t read mean-spiritedness where sarcasm is intended. As he writes in the comments section: “If you took this as anything but respect for hardcores, you are missing the entire point. The fans who stick with a team through bad, then even horrific seasons are not to be mocked. The reason this group” — the City of Albany Buffalo Bills Backers — “was highlighted is that it formed at the nadir of Bills football.”

    The “decade of fail” meme isn’t something of Mark’s invention. It was brought to his attention by Andrew, the Tonawanda transplant. Andrew sells T-shirts, gave out free stickers, and talked to Mark on the record. I’m all for people pimping their own stuff, so from my perspective, Andrew is no exception. You’ll have to let him know that you don’t approve of his work.

    But Alyssa, it sounds like you’ve pitched your own story for next week: “digging a bit deeper to understand things from our perspective.” I’d love to see you come down to a Bills Backers event in the City of Albany and show us what a more positive, Bills-centric report would look like!

  • Alyssa

    I’d say thanks for the opinions…but not so much, since I’m not budging on this.

  • Ed Lass

    You don’t have to thank me — or not thank me, apparently — and you don’t have to budge.

    I just want to see what you can do. C’mon down and show us what your view of good Bills journalism should look like!

    If you don’t want to write it yourself, maybe you can help us form the pitch and give it to another media outlet. We’re a volunteer fan group, so we need help from fans like you.

  • Joe Blow


  • Paul D

    Well, as Bills fans we have to take solace in something. Personally I’m seeing this year as one long episode of Benny Hill or a football follies tape. Yeah, we all support our team and want them to be a contender but sometimes it’s necessary to bottom out in the interest of coming back up again. Decade of Fail is just one way to deal with our misery in a more humorous light. It’s better than being depressed about it!