No need to dwell on the pain; a New Year means a fresh slate

Little Buffalo, N.Y., Sunday, January 2, 2005 — Last Sunday morning, no matter where we were, we all had the same thought in our minds: The worst thing that could possibly happen to me is if we lose this game and the Jets or the Broncos lose as well.Then we did our best to put the painful past behind us and shook that thought out of our heads. No, that won’t happen. Fate is guiding us. Miami beat New England; Houston shut out Jacksonville; Big Ben is injured; Peyton wants to play; it’s all falling into place. The playoffs are a few short hours away and all will kneel before my unbeatable Buffalo Bills.

Oh, fate, you evil, evil, jerk.

I sometimes wonder if I should give up my abusive relationship with the Bills and instead take to banging my head against a wall as hard as I can once a day. At least with the wall, there’s no leading me on, no six-game winning streak, no false hope. All the cards will be out on the table. I’ll know that when I hit my head, it’s going to hurt, so if I don’t want to be in pain that day, I just won’t do it. Think of all the money I’ll save on merchandise, beer and chicken wings. Plus, there are no Patriots or Jets fans in this whole wall-banging thing. I may be on to something.

There’s just one problem. I love the Bills. And dog-on-it, if I haven’t given up on them by now, nothing is going to stop me. Loving the Bills isn’t just about football for me. It’s about hometown pride and loyalty. And it’s about wanting to stick it to anyone who ever says anything bad about our team or our town.

Sunday sucked, to put it lightly. I’m still getting that dreadful pit in my stomach whenever I think about it. And I’m still mad at the Bills. Why not go for it on fourth and one inside the Steelers’ 20 instead of relying on Rian freaking Lindell? Why did the offense only seem to have a sense of urgency during its drives at the end of each half? How did Nate Clements let himself fumble on the Pittsburgh 20? Why did our awesome defense let Pittsburgh’s scrubs run all over them? Why can’t I remember one good thing Josh Reed has ever done? I better stop before I start hyperventilating …

The truth is, the season had to end somehow, someway, and as much as I love to fantasize about it (yes, I really do fantasize and dream about football), the Super Bowl never seemed like a real possibility. It was never going to be easy with our offense, and as much as missing the playoffs hurts, all it would have likely done is get us a week more of respect out of the media. When we lost, everyone would turn on the Bills, and say that we only made the off-season by beating losing teams and the second string of the Steelers. Maybe it’s better this way.

OK, now that I’m thoroughly depressed from rehashing all that, and considering strangling myself with my mouse cord, let’s move on, shall we? This New Year sure started in the worst way possible, but we can’t let that ruin the next twelve months. So, as a form of therapy, I’m going to tell you all my New Year’s resolutions, which could possibly make the rest of 2005 not only fulfilling for me as a person, but as a Bills fan.

1) Every time I get the urge to either lose my lunch or throw myself in front of the Number 4 train because of the Bills, I will do 100 crunches. Heck, if I can’t get any sort of fulfillment from the Bills, I may as well have nice abs.

2) I’m going to learn how to place kick. If Rian Lindell has a career in the NFL, what’s stopping me from trying? The Bills have got to be hiring at this position. Instead of sitting at a computer all day looking at Microsoft Access, I could be traveling around the country making the big bucks and become famous. I’d be a chump NOT to try out. On a side note, I read a Buffalo News article while I was home for the holidays about how Lindell is having such a great season, and how he wants the chance to be the difference maker in a game. Right. You made a difference alright, Rian. Don’t worry Bills fans, if I get good at this kicking thing, and the Bills sign me, I promise that all my bad kicks will sail to the left of the goal post. I’m into changing things up.

3) I’m going to more games next season. Since I went to a grand total of zero this season thanks to poorly thought-out travel plans and strep throat, I need to make up for lost time. Win or lose, no one is better than Bills fans, so being around thousands of them at once sounds like a good plan to me.

4) Should I ever meet Tom Brady, I promise to kick him in the nuts.

5) If I decide to do Christmas cards this year, they must be Bills-themed. I’ve never sent out Christmas cards before. This past Christmas I got one from my boyfriend’s brother Mitch and his new fiancé Catherine. They looked so cute and in love, but it was clearly lacking in football department, which is all I was thinking about at Christmas time. My mom sent me one of the cards we had leftover from the early nineties where Santa is throwing the Bills a touchdown pass. That was exciting to see. Thus, I declared that if I ever send out Christmas cards, they will have to involve me wearing every stitch of Bills gear I own, and possibly a mini jersey for my cat, Moe, if I decide to go with the whole “picture card” thing (no, I don’t normally dress up my cat). Oh, yes, I’m serious. Stop judging. It’s not like I just told you about my football-themed wedding idea …

Yeah, my transition from “fan” to “big fan” to “unhealthy obsession” is juuust about complete.

6) I’m going to bake something just so I can use the Bills potholders I got from Grandma.

7) As soon as I submit this column, I’m writing to Jake Crouthamel, athletic director at Syracuse University, and telling him that Jerry Gray is sleeping with his wife. Good luck getting that head coaching job, Jerry! Muwahahahahahahahaha!

Let this be fair warning to you, too, Pat Williams.

8) I’m not getting involved in the quarterback controversy, or at least not taking an official position. I know most fans are ready to ride Drew Bledsoe out of town on a rail (including my brother who suggested that the entire column consist solely of the words, “Humpty blows.”). Drew doesn’t exactly give me great hope right now that the team is heading for the Super Bowl next year, but if Losman doesn’t turn out to be a Big Ben, it will be difficult for him to lead the team there too. It’ll be another “rebuilding year” with a good chance of not making the playoffs. Can we handle it? Do we have a choice? Either way, Coach Mularkey is taking a gamble. I’d like to see what Losman can do, but would hate to see another season of growing pains and learning curves, (I’d also hate to see another season like this one where Drew is inconsistent). We won’t get anywhere until we have an offense that can win games for us instead of hoping the defense can run back picks. What the Bills need is a little bit of that quarterback magic that seems to have blessed San Diego this year. Also, committing fewer penalties and not dropping the ball would help. The whole team needs to step it up. Time will tell if they are up to the challenge. There’s nothing any of us meager fans can do but hope Mularkey makes the right decision.

9) OK, this one I really mean. If we still have troops committed to Afghanistan and Iraq (or anywhere else) next football season, I’d like to do another donation drive at McFadden’s to send care packages. The week after Christmas, I went to Sam’s Club, Wegman’s and the Galleria Mall in Cheektavegas to purchase goods with the $350 the Backers donated during the Cincinnati game. Aside from Bills decals, talking footballs, flags and hats, the NYC Buffalo Bills Backers sent boxes of energy bars, beef jerky, Gatorade powder, chap stick, postcards, lotion, hand sanitizer, popcorn, nuts, gum, candy, DVDs and more to the men and women serving overseas with the Army Reserve 402d Civil Affairs Battalion, based in Buffalo. It’s a worthwhile cause and a great way to feel good about the Bills (and ourselves) even when the team disappoints.

10) I would pledge to be a better sport and less testy during bad games, especially when watching them with my parents, but there’s a better chance of the Rams conceding their playoff spot to the Bills. I do, however, resolve not to let a bad game keep me down for long. The beautiful thing about football is that there’s always next week, next time, next season (Sorry hockey, wish I could say the same about you). Like any true Bills fan, I know the next one belongs to us!

Thanks for reading my columns over the past few months. It’s been a pleasure to write about the Bills and the great people who pile into McFadden’s each week. I hope to see you all there for the upcoming 2005 draft party and, of course, next season. We’ve got plenty of time to rest up and then get pumped up to watch our Bills go all the way next year. I know I’m psyched already. GO BILLS!!!!

by Michelle Girardi