For as long as I can remember, Buffalo has always been a football-crazed town, for better or worse. Now Buffalo as we all know legitimately had reason to go nuts over the Bills a good 25-30 years ago. Maybe those are the teams you grew up with and that’s why you fell in love with football. Heck, even the Wade Phillips/Doug Flutie teams had their moments which made watching the Bills truly enjoyable.
When September rolled around, there was legitimate excitement about the upcoming football season. We were going to throw on our jerseys, stock up on beers, party in a parking lot for five hours, and watch good football. There was a real expectation that the Bills would win more often than not. Football was fun.
Flash forward to September 2017. It’s been 18 calendar years since the Bills had a team that was on its way to the playoffs. The Bills haven’t won more than nine games in any of those years. Somewhere along this painful slog through time, football in Buffalo stopped being fun. Now it’s like getting up to go to work or sitting in the waiting room at the dentist office. It’s something you have to do, but you’re not thrilled about it.
The 2017 Bills have generated the least amount of excitement for football in Buffalo that I can remember. At least that’s the read I have on the team and the fanbase. We’ve had teams with low expectations before, in fact we’ve excepted that as the norm, but I can’t recall Bills fans ever being this pessimistic about an upcoming season. Usually there are a few misguided souls who are convinced the team can win 10 or 11 games, but I’ve yet to find that person for this team.
It’s gotten to the point where I’ve never seen this much pure anger, hostility, and downright resentment toward the organization at the start of the year. I think the fanbase got to that place in the middle of the disastrous 2009 season, but never before a season even began.
I think the fanbase is broken after 17 years without the plays. The constant spin cycle of garbage and toilet water that keeps getting tossed at Buffalo Bills fans has finally overwhelmed them. Now after getting progressively worse in each of the past two seasons, the team is starting over with a new head coach and GM that hardly inspire confidence and a roster that is clearly deficient. Oh, the Bills also traded Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby away for expiring contracts and draft picks. So you can understand why there’s little excitement over the 2017 Bills and why the fanbase is growing despondent.
Still, they will play 16 games this season, starting Sunday with the home opener against the Jets, who are also bad. Since football is supposed to be an entertaining distraction from the other tedious chores we all go through in life, you want to plan to have some fun and get enjoyment out of a Bills’ Sunday. So, how do you do that now through December with a team that might win 4 or 5 games?
I’ve been racking my brain, but I think I have a few ways fans can get some enjoyment out of the upcoming 2017 Bills’ season.
No. 1 – Alcohol
Ok this one is obvious. When have Bills fans not gotten enjoyment out of some booze, especially in the parking lot? Whether at a tailgate, at a bar, or sitting at home on the couch, alcohol always makes these games better. This of course means we’ll get the Deadspin articles and vines of people going through tables and lighting themselves on fire and honesty that’s fine. How can you finger wag at people just trying to get some enjoyment out of a Sunday out with friends, especially when they know absolutely no enjoyment will come from the actual game itself?
Bills fans will need cases upon cases of beer to get through the 2017 season. So take the edge off and enjoy a tall, cool, frosty beverage after Jordan Mills gets beaten off the edge by Muhammad Wilkerson.
No. 2 – Rooting Against the Chiefs
Well I might have to amend this one after what the Fighting Andy Reids did to Trump America’s Team on Thursday night. So we all know that the Bills own the Chiefs’ 2018 first round pick. This is good. The enthusiasm for that pick is diminished a little bit when you realize the Chiefs are probably still going to be pretty good this year. It’s a little like when the Sabres had the Islanders’ first round pick in the McDavid/Eichel year and pretty early in the season it became clear the Isles would not be a lottery team.
Still, even after their thrashing of the Patriots, the Chiefs don’t have to be good this year. Regression is expected for them after a 12-win season in 2016. Their division is interesting with the Chargers and Raiders nipping at their heels. Also, they have already lost Spencer Ware and Eric Berry to devastating injuries. Their defense is a year older and looked that way at times on Thursday, granted against Brady.
I still say it’s okay to take interest in Chiefs games and rooting against them. I wouldn’t expect a bottom-10 finish from them, but whatever. They’re still a fun team to root against with the annoying way they seem to pull games out of their ass, their stupid and offensive Tomahawk Chop, and their employment of domestic abuser Tyreek Hill.
No. 3 – Coach Trooooooops
I can’t take credit for coming up with the Coach Troops name. That credit should go to @MattyRenn. But either way, it’s hilarious. I think we all learned about Sean McDermott’s schtick pretty early in his first offseason with the Bills. He’s definitely the guy at the gym who offers to spot you and yells in your face to “COME ON GET ONE MORE!!!!!” His first act as Bills’ coach was to remove the pool table and ping pong table from the locker room. Heaven forbid his employees do anything interesting or fun besides working on becoming fundamentally sound.
We also noticed his fashion sense and apparent love for anything camouflage. Coach Troops always looks like he’s dressed for a fishing trip. He’s constantly wearing camo hats and even camo shirts. This is where the Coach Troops nickname comes from. Nothing says “Support The Troops” quite like a camo hat with a Bills logo on it.
I can tell already that I’m going to be irritated by almost everything Coach Troops does. The pool table thing was the first warning sign. The fashion sense is troubling. Have you listened to his press conferences? It’s like he learned only to speak in football clichés from a young age. So all this annoys me and he hasn’t even coached a regular season game yet. Wait until he punts on 4th and 1.
So the best thing to do is to have fun with all this. The Coach Troops nickname is one way I’m trying to do so. There’s also this from The Buffalo News, which I mean thank you to whoever illustrated this. You act like I’m not going to use that picture on Twitter whenever Coach Troops calls his final timeout with 11:17 to go in the half.
If there’s one thing Bills fans know how to do, it’s poke fun at the head coach. With the Bills since 2000, this has been low-hanging fruit. I’m guessing we’re going to have plenty of material to work with from Coach Troops. I look forward to it.
No. 4 – Bills Twitter
Twitter is often the best chaser to the rancid shot that is Bills football. If you’re not on Twitter or don’t follow fellow Bills fans, I would recommend doing so. With that said, choose your follows wisely. You will see Bills fans post some of the wooooooooooorst takes possible during Bills’ Sundays. This can be either entertaining or infuriating. Let’s be honest, we all need a good laugh during Bills games and Twitter often provides it.
Get a close-knit group of follows you like and keep an eye on them during games. They usually will have good sarcastic jokes and self-deprecating humor. Dark comedy is the best for Bills games. If you can’t laugh at the Bills, you’d cry.
With that said, we may have already seen the Tweet of the Year from an actual Bills’ player – Jerel Worthy.
No. 5 – Sunday Ticket
Yea sorry, sometimes the best way to enjoy a bad Bills’ season is not to watch them at all. I have DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket, which means I have the RedZone Channel, which means I’ll be watching that often. While the NFL is known for doing plenty of things wrong, they have nailed RedZone Channel. It’s constant touchdowns and highlights without boring interruptions. Of course, this means you’ll rarely see the Bills. But, maybe that’s okay.
If you just want to avoid football all together, that’s not a bad idea either. Spend some time with family or friends. Visit a winery. Maybe take some time to volunteer or help others. Fall means plenty of fun festivals in the WNY area. Here are a list of upcoming events to keep an eye on – https://www.everfest.com/new-york/buffalo-festivals
No. 6 – LeSean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor
If you are committed to sitting and watching Bills games, there must be something exciting to see. Just take one look at the Bills’ roster and it’s pretty clear that this team won’t be good. But that doesn’t mean they won’t have fun players. Their two most fun players are guys we already know well – LeSean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor.
McCoy is creeping closer and closer to 30, but he’s still capable of doing stuff like this. He is a highlight reel every time he carries the ball. He’s football’s version of Allen Iverson – a true ankle-breaker that can leave defenders on their ass wondering what happened.
Taylor is perhaps the most polarizing player on the Bills’ roster because of the position he plays and because of the constant debate the team is having about what to do with his contract. It’s pretty obvious he won’t be back for 2018 unless he has an All-Pro worthy season, and that’s not likely to happen with the West Coast offense the Bills are installing and the lack of talent around Taylor. But when he’s on, Taylor is fun to watch. No, he’s not a “elite” quarterback, but he is entertaining. And he throws maybe the prettiest deep ball in the league. Who is he going to be throwing those bombs to? Kaelin Clay? Yea I don’t know, but I can still appreciate the fun things Tyrod does while he’s still here.
No. 7 – Marcell’s Hat
Yea I know Marcell Dareus might be a sore subject to discuss around here at the start of the 2017 season and it might not be long before he’s shipped out of here by Coach Troops and GM Cracker Barrel, but dude seems like he’d be a lot of fun to hang out with. You have to be fun if you walk around wearing this hat all the time. I might buy one for games.
No. 8 – Morbid Curiosity
I think we all assume the Bills will be bad this year, but just how bad is up for debate. Are they 6-7 win bad or 3-4 win bad? How ugly will this get if it goes south? Who else will they trade? How many quarterbacks will they go through?
This might be fun to watch just to see how bad it gets. Like a bad car wreck, you can’t look away. Remember that famous quote about Howard Stern? “If they hate him, why do they keep listening to him? Most common response: I want to hear what he’ll say next.” That might be the Bills this season. It might be awful, but I want to see the bad thing they do next.
My favorite example of this comes not from the Bills, but rather their Week One opponents – the New York Jets. Remember the Butt Fumble Game? Of course you do, but do you remember how ugly that game got for Gang Green? The next play after the Butt Fumble was a kickoff the Jets fumbled and was run in for a Patriots’ score. Even Jets fans had to be laughing at that moment. I was doubled over in laughter watching that game. Maybe, just maybe, we might see something like that from the Bills this season. You can’t miss it.