1) Char·ac·ter – (noun) the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual
Judging by what is coming out of #Onebuffalo, you’d think this is the first time anyone has wanted to find players and coaches who are high in character. This is part of the the problem with suffering through a historically bad 17-years of not making the playoffs. You tend to remember how they “Gotcha” before.
Dick Jauron used to talk all about character. Guys like George Wilson, Chris Kelsay, Fred Jackson, Donte Whitner (before he went insane on Twitter at least), and a few others were viewed as having high moral fiber. Of course, it didn’t matter in the end because while they were quotable leaders, the team still couldn’t get it done. Don’t even get me started on when Doug Marrone came to town with his straight-shooting approach and how fans and media ate it up. Same for Doug Whaley being the young, bright executive from Pittsburgh’s winning tradition who would change things. Ralph’s scouts are gone and the GM and head coach seem to be in lock-step so maybe this time the “Things are different!” narrative really will be true, but I am still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Our owner is still telling us that dipshit #brandonfinger is involved with hiring which makes me want to strangle someone.
Still, the idea of focusing on character is not exactly an epiphany. Fighting for jobs? Character? Lindy Ruff used to say “Play out of character.” Basically, I’ve heard it before. Just pass me the tranquilizer gun and wake me up in September. #OneBuffalo will always be undefeated when it comes to press conferences about hiring people.
2) Football character vs. human character
This is where I dust off the old ’90s Bills rhetoric for all you millennials. Anyone who is 45+ can tell you a story about how the majority of the ’90s Bills were giant assholes off the field at times. If Twitter or the 24/7 media coverage was around back then, I can honestly say the Bills may have been disbanded.
That’s if even half the stories I heard were true.
However, in the locker room, they were gamers. They took the games seriously and brought that shit home to bed or to the bars. When anyone trashed them in the public, it would go right on the bulletin board. If they lost a game, it would totally eat at them. If there was someone who didn’t do their job, you know the leaders on that team were grabbing players by the neck and telling them to shape up.
There was a ton of unity which was created by the core of the locker room having a lot of character when dealing with adversity on the field. Losing actually made the ’90s Bills hungrier to win that elusive championship. Football character is when you live and breathe football and you’re the type of player who stares at accountability in the mirror every day and speaks up when you know the time is right. Fans and media members can’t relate to it really because we have never been in those trenches. While for us it is just a hobby, for them it is a way of life. That’s football character.
3) Bending character rules
When the Bills drafted Dion Dawkins, one of the first things that got out was that he had been arrested for assault outside of a night club. When asked about drafting someone with questionable character, McDermott said they did their homework and kind of brushed off the question. I don’t know what exactly doing their homework means. Maybe they hired private eyes, talked to other coaches, or plugged Dawkins into a Maury Povich lie detector. However, Dawkins was a bit more open about it at the combine:
“I tell them exactly what it was,” he said. “I tell ’em the full story from front to end, and I own it. Because I’m a man, and nobody’s perfect. Things happen, whether you’re guilty or not. I was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and I had to deal with the consequences. It made me the man I am today. When football was taken away from me, I see life in a totally different view now. It was taken away from me from stuff I could’ve controlled.” (The Buffalo News)
Translation: It’s on me. So, was that why McDermott was cool with Dawkins? Because he owned up to it and said it was totally on him and showed contrition? Or could it have been seen as him sticking up for a teammate? Sticking up for a teammate sure shows character if you are a football maven. Yes, you can get away with being a meathead, but you sure as hell can’t get away with having someone on your team who gets arrested for domestic violence. Not just because it is despicable, but if you have someone on your team like that, you are going to get tons of protesters. A lot of people will still look at assault and battery as “boys will be boys” though.
Look at the crap storm a few weeks ago in Seattle. Frank Clark, domestic abuser and all around awful guy throws a threat at a writer talking about his history of bad decisions – which leads to a mealy mouthed apology and an apology for the apology. If that were the Bills, they’d have been buried under the weight of “told you so’s” and “what’s Buffalo thinking?”. In Seattle, they had a few days of hand slapping and back to #Winning.
4) A gamble on Tocchet?
Rick Tocchet has been mentioned as a possible head coach candidate for the Sabres. It would make sense since he’s the current Pens assistant coach and they just won the Cup last year. However, the guy was convicted of basically having a football gambling ring in the middle of the 2000’s while he was the assistant coach for the Coyotes. There was a time when ESPN ONLY talked about the NHL when something went wrong and this was one of those times. It was a big deal because Wayne and Janet Gretzky were connected to it. Speculation was that Wayne used his wife as a front to place bets on football with Tocchet being the bookie. At the time, shit really hit the fan because no one knew if the Gretzkys were gambling on hockey or not. Not to mention, it was dealing with organized crime. Tocchet took the fall and ended up losing his job, paid a hefty fine, and was suspended from the NHL. After being reinstated, he became an assistant coach in Tampa Bay under Barry Melrose. (Woof). Anyway, he did the crime and he did the time.
Now fast forward to today. I gotta admit, gambling kind of falls under the category of things I can’t get that outraged about. I mean, I don’t do it but lots of people gamble. You can’t go far into a WGR show without hearing #scotchclub talk about gambling. Still, this was a huge ordeal when it happened. When your owner comes out and talks about character, character, character… That shines a giant light on ANYONE you hire who has any character concerns. If #OneBuffalo didn’t shove character down my throat, I would probably say “Fuck it! He did the time.” But this is your head coach and spokesman for your team. The guy ran a gambling ring and you are going to keep telling me character matters? I dunno. That sounds kind of hypocritical.
Still, the Pegulas do seem to be forgiving people. Stay tuned.
5) Don’t let my misery damper your soul
Yeah, I’m not going to crush fans who are excited about the Bills new coaching staff and front office. I get that it can be exciting, and I’m pretty sure at one point I was excited about a new GM or coach. Billieving is all Bills fans really have and it is totally cool to be optimistic. To me, though it is hard to get excited during the off-season. I wish I could get there and tweet out excitement after hearing the coach or GM talk, but I’d be faking it. Instead, I just make John Murphy meme jokes and try to keep my ambivalence to myself. Still, be happy and, like the song says, don’t stop believing and ignore people like me. But don’t worry, I’ll get excited once September hits.
Just don’t count on me to have a boner over character quotes.