A View from Calico Jack’s – 3/8/09


Must have been something I ate. Last night, I dreamed that the Bills….

Oh. That really happened? Wow. Incredible.

I refer, of course, to the sale of Jim Kelly’s house to Marshawn Lynch. Almost lost in that stunning development was the Bills’ signing of an aged wide receiver cut by the Cowboys. Maybe you heard about it: guy named Terrell Owens. Or, “T.O.” to his theoretical friends.

I can just imagine the TOronto-related puns when the Bills play their next Canadian “home” game.

Seriously, it’s clear Bills fans will be split on this one. I’ve already seen it. Some love, love, love the move. Some hate it. Others are still too shocked to react.

I’m not a fan of T.O.’s act, and I’m not going to pretend to love the guy now that he’s a Bill. Does that mean I won’t root for him? Of course not. I’ve disliked individual Bills in the past, but still wanted them to do well for the team’s sake.

What will the signing mean?

First and foremost, as Matt Kabel pointed out in his last NYCBBB update, it should mean money and exposure. The Bills will probably sell more seats and jerseys. They will almost definitely get a prime-time game or two that they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Maybe we’ll even get the occasional non-D List announcer. Economically, I’ve got to think this deal makes sense. It’s hard to ignore potential economic benefits these days.

As far as on the field…the BEST case scenario is a Dodger/Manny Ramirez situation; the lightning-rod star comes in, shakes things up, and takes the team to (good) places they wouldn’t have gone without him. And then the Bills and T.O. would find themselves in a Dodgers/Manny off-season contract drama. I could definitely live with that.

The worst case scenarios? Well, to me, these are what are simultaneously good, bad and sad about the T.O. deal.

Let’s say it doesn’t work: let’s assume the Bills still can’t broaden the offense to more than lots of running and six-yard passes on third-and-11. Or, T.O, in his mid-30s, breaks down physically and mentally once winter hits, and either goes down or drops even more passes than he usually does (don’t think we haven’t noticed that, Terrell).

Will any of that truly leave the Bills in a worse place than where’s they’ve been for years now? Really, is there a significant risk here? Sad, right? But also pretty good – no real downside, on the surface.

Now, you might ask, what if T.O. starts acting up?

That’d be discouraging. And then he’d be gone when the season was over, once again leaving the Bills back where they were.

To me, the larger – perhaps largest – risk relates to Trent Edwards. Could this completely mess him up?

I really like Edwards. I wish he had JP Losman’s gun-slinger arm and mentality given the new offensive line up, but his instincts are a heck of a lot better. A real NFL quarterback has got to be excited by the prospect of throwing to this group of receivers (can you imagine a four-receiver set with Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish, assuming Roscoe’s still around?)

My point being that if the T.O. scenario somehow damages Edwards…then perhaps this whole starting-QB thing isn’t for him, after all. Frankly, I’m still more concerned about Edwards’ cold-weather ability, and ability to stay healthy.

What makes me saddest of all – and I know this is naïve – is that the Bills have clearly moved beyond the “character counts” standard of Marv Levy.

Yes, this is the NFL, and there aren’t a lot of boy scouts. Nor should there be in such a rough sport. There aren’t lots of Kurt Warners out there. But, the old Bills simply wouldn’t have signed T.O. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a good thing, but it further drives home the passage of an era. To be honest, it mainly bothers me because I’m such a Levy fan, more than it’s about clinging to an ideal that probably never existed. What I liked about Levy is that he at least TRIED to figure out if a guy was a decent person.

Of course, Jim Kelly was willing to sell his home to legally-challenged Marshawn Lynch – who happens to be my favorite Bill outside of our punter – so maybe what’s really naive is even thinking in terms of character anymore. I certainly don’t blame Kelly for selling to Marshawn – as proven by the Bills and T.O., sometimes economics trump all.