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.”
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.