“So maybe there’s hope. Or maybe I’m going mad… In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upward mobile — and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: Not necessarily to Win, but mainly to keep from Losing Completely.” -Hunter S. Thompson, The Great Shark Hunt
Every year, it gets a little sadder. A little more diminished. Your expectations get lower and lower, until you take a step back and see what your fandom has become. Leave aside the Anthem question, and the relentless advance of cynical commercialization that would choke the Marlboro Man. Look past the doubts that creep into every thinking football fan’s mind about the moral defensibility of watching young men destroy themselves and each other for our amusement. I mean look at your base level fandom. Your vibrant enthusiasm fades, like the colors on your favorite Sunday Afternoon Football Watchin’ Shirt. And like that shirt, you end up washed out. Faded. Fraying at the edges.
JUST KIDDING! Everything’s fine, everything’s great! Especially if you’re a fan of the Buffalo Bills! Everything’s looking up up UP!
Yes, our most valuable player last year was Andy Dalton. And yes, the Bills wouldn’t have needed the sole heroic moment of Dalton’s career to get into the playoffs if our hydrocephalic Ron Howard Clone of a coach hadn’t decided to bench Tur-rod Taylor midweek before playing the surprisingly competitive Real Chargers FC. But it happened! In a moment of almost pure joy, the Bills finally made it back to the playoffs for the first time since the Immaculate Deception perpetrated by the reviled Frank Wycheck. For one moment, the Bills were not a punchline, not a trivia answer, not an afterthought. Sucky had become Plucky, and every fan with the least sense of romance and wonder in their soul saw something beautiful.
And we promptly pissed it away. We took the wave of league-wide good feelings, of momentum, of sheer fucking DESTINY and we rode it directly into a vertical cliff. You were there. You saw Blake Bortles bash Buffalo Bills’ brains into borscht. No need to belabor the point.
“No, no. Calm down. Learn to enjoy Losing.”
Because everything’s going to be FINE! Trading our relatively cheap, semi-effective starting quarterback for a third-rounder was a Brilliant Strategy, at least when viewed against the general expectation that our Carolina Reject GM was going to release him outright for…um…
Well shit, nobody knows why Brandon Beane was so fucking intent on getting rid of Taylor. As near as I can tell, Beane and Coach Opie were simply hellbent on getting rid of every recognizable name from the previous regime (save Teflon Shady McCoy, who I assume has job security because he knows where Beane and Sean McDermott live and has a crew of guys who would Pay Them A Visit).
Actually, I lied. Most of us understand what happened: Beane and McDermott came onboard to what they thought would be a straight rebuilding project: burn it to the ground, take your lumps for a year or two and build your new team out of high draft picks and smart mid-level free agent acquisitions. The problem was that what should have been a 5-11 team just kept winning. The Bills– by design– were not supposed to sniff the playoffs until 2020. Winning put them in danger of staying in the Fatally Mediocre Zone, and we couldn’t have that. So Management went ahead and clear-cut the forest anyway. It was the football equivalent of the Bring Out Your Dead scene in Monty Python, when the old man keeps protesting that he’s not dead yet until the cartman finally knocks him on the head.
So that’s where we’re at. We’re on the Plague Cart. I’m not going to bore you with a position-by-position breakdown, nor a Why My Team Sucks recitation of how horrible it is to be a Bills fan in the Year of Our Lord, Two Thousand and Eighteen.
Because none of that matters. There is a reason to rejoice in this, the hour of our suckitude. In a disgusting parody of the hated Process, this year is about being bad enough to be good later. Beane structured his moves so that the team would absorb a huge lump of dead money this year (currently at $53 million according to Spotrac, nearly 1/3 of their cap spending), drafted a developmental quarterback, brought in relatively little outside talent and traded as many mid-career guys as he could. The clear-cutting analogy is close, but not quite right: more like slash-and-burn. Beane and McDermott have succeeded in the “burn it down” part spectacularly, so at least there’s that.
So I embrace our walking punchline of a starting quarterback. I accept the offensive line that is more turnstile than brick wall. I welcome the fact that our exciting young receiver had exactly one highlight-reel play all year, and that was him shaking off coverage while running a naked post route while…um…naked. I fucking celebrate these facts! If Josh Allen can actually spend a year on the bench, learning an NFL offense, developing big-boy footwork and learning not to say fucking racist shit, it will be a year well spent in the cellar. With a little bit of luck and the impending arrest of Tom Brady’s steroid dealer, maybe the 2019 Bills will have a shot.
“We’d gone in search of the American dream. It had been a lame fuck around. A waste of time. There was no point in looking back. Fuck no, not today, thank you kindly. My heart was filled with joy. I felt like a monster reincarnation of Horatio Alger, a man on the move, and just sick enough to be totally confident.”
4-12. Foxborough delenda est.