A View from Calico Jack’s – 9/2/2008

Three signs I’m old(er):

1. For a while when I was a kid in Niagara Falls, we shared a phone line with our next door neighbor. It was called a “party line.”
2. I vividly remember having to get up to change channels – and how lucky we felt to actually have access to Canadian television, giving us a total of seven channels instead of four (assuming you counted the UHF channel, 29, as a station).
3. I was an adult the last time the Bills made the playoffs.

Don’t scoff at that last point. Last year marked our eighth consecutive playoff-less season. Based on the crowds I see at McFadden’s and Calico Jack’s on football Sundays, I’m guessing the vast majority of our crew hasn’t seen a Bills playoff game since they were teens.

The overarching question, then, is whether or not this is the year – finally – that the Bills find a way to play a 17th meaningful game (at least).

Of course, that’s the question pretty much every year. But, optimism seems higher this year than perhaps any time since the early Bledsoe era. That was a pretty exciting six quarters, wasn’t it?

My very unscientific research indicates more of a cautious optimism than an aggressive sense that this team is destined for a high seed. Maybe that’s because of the team’s propensity for injury. Maybe it’s Jason Peters’ ridiculous hold out. Or, could it be concerns about the largely untested Trent Edwards?

It’s probably all of that – along with a healthy dose of cynicism that prevents Bills fans from getting overly optimistic or carried away. Of course, Red Sox fans used to be the same way, and just look at them now.

Personally, I’m excited about the team in a way I haven’t been in a while. I’m not prepared to say the “P” word, but barring injury the defense should be far better, the special teams should still be good to very good, and Marshawn should continue to prove a better runner than driver. If – if – Edwards can find his receivers (including, I hope, a rebounded Lee Evans, a talented newbie in James Hardy, and a speedy, perpetually-on-the-verge-of-being-incorporated-into-the-game-plan Roscoe Parrish), this team could put something fun together.

All of which could still mean .500 in a tough division. But, I believe that would be a bad break. So, forget what I said a moment ago about the “P” word: for the first time perhaps since the Super Bowl years, I am predicting a wild card birth for my beloved Bills.

If I prove right, give me credit. If I’m wrong…well, it wouldn’t be the first time. What do you expect from someone who remembers party line phones?