Most of my generation knows a story or two about the 90s Bills. Once we get through the games, the player accolades and the outcomes, soon to follow will be an outline of their personalities. I think what always struck me about them wasn't just their bravado, which at times for any NFL team can be easily manufactured or just a guy being good with a quote. But what stuck out to me was their defiance when criticism came.
They fed on negativity like no other team I can think of in Buffalo sports folklore. It is only fitting that the Bills are playing the Saints this weekend as it reminds me of the time the Bills went there 21 years ago.
Against a bad ass Saints team, a lot of people thought the Bills were going to lose because they lost against the Jets and Colts a few weeks earlier and those teams were crappy. I assure you, there were more obituaries written about the demise of the Bills during the Super Bowl years than when the local paper in Haddonfield, Illinois writes about the death of Michael Myers. But like the bogeyman, the Bills wouldn't fade away and would always come back from the dead.
When the Bills beat the Saints, I remember how Jim Kelly came out and challenged the entire press corp.. "Which one of you guys thought we'd lose this game?" There were a few inaudible responses, but Kelly then started pointing at everyone and said "You are a liar. You are a liar. And you are a liar." It was so classic. There were so many other instances of this during the 90s.
Ask Jerry Sullivan in one of his chats about when he wrote something negative about them and how the players would be seething and waiting for him in the locker room the next day. It was great times.
Of course, any media hater loves it when a player punks off a reporter. I think a big reason for this is a lot of people in the media spend their time criticizing players and are never really called out for being wrong about it. Normally, it is us who does it, but no one of authority does it to them. Yet, when a player does it, it is like having your boss -who you despise- get punked off by their boss for doing a lousy job. It is the ultimate "Stick it to the man!" moment because your voice can't be heard or doesn't have as much meaning.
On the other hand, I think deep down inside the lamestream media enjoys it because it brings attention to themselves and the peace of mind that they "THINK" they are doing their job with their criticism as it is striking a nerve with the player.
So, while the 90s Bills had a "Just Bring it!" attitude towards the media, the rock of the current Bills' defense is acting like he's playing on a deserted island where no one is watching his games and he's not hearing the white noise around him.
Through all the TMZ bullshit that has been written about Mario Williams (Fridges, guns, engagement rings, faking injuries and God knows what else), he's been pretty quiet about it. He hasn't been pointing to every media member and saying they were wrong. He hasn't threatened to beat up Sully for making fun of his suicidal texts on WGR. He hasn't showed doctor records of his wrist injury or the ankle injury he had for 4 days at the start of training camp that made Jerry Sullivan have an aneurysm. He hasn't gone down the locker room stalls to ask which player hates him for having a mini-fridge.
(Side note: I bet some reporter asked every single person who sat foot in that locker room about it and then they found some practice squad player who doesn't have money, make some indifferent comment about it and then it turns into "LOCKER ROOM HAS ISSUES WITH MARIO" headline. The bigger story is that the locker room is probably a shit hole if they don't have fucken outlets in their stalls. I mean, my fucken gym locker room has outlets.)
Shit, we've actually been doing more of the seditious yelling towards the media than anyone in regards to him. All you have to do is look at the glorious Sully mentions on Twitter to see how many fans shoved the "Bruce Smith vs. Mario Williams after 7 games" stat in his face.
If anything, the Mario Williams witch hunt has brought fans together. Even if you are #Billsmafia member who believes in sunshine, lolly pops and rainbows or the "nothing will ever happen nice to us" crowd, the majority of fans are on his side because they know he's good and they know he's gotten a bum rap. For once, it isn't about a sad fan base wanting to believe in a guy out of desperation that is blinding us to see what really is the truth. The truth is what we are seeing on the field and that's a guy who has 19 sacks in his last 17 games and has won the Bills 2 games this year.
Yet, there's only silence from the guy who has gotten all of the backlash. It resembles when Brad Pitt has shit written about him in the tabloids and he just brushes it off whenever it is brought up to him. Sometimes silence can be the best rebuttal. Not feeding the trolls is just as good of a face palm as telling the trolls to fuck off.
But above of all else, doing it on the field trumps all.
And that's what Mario Williams has done. No declarations, no pointing or feeding into the garbage. At the end of the day it is all about what Mario does on the field that matters, not off of it.
Oh, and don't think he lacks fire as when he talks to the press he's a soft-spoken country boy. All you have do is watch his mic'd up segment from Sunday's game to know that the guy has fire. The guy wants to win and he wants to be the best player out there. I've always said, I don't need you to be a leader or a upstanding citizen Monday through Saturday. Just "Hulk Up" for those 3 hours on Sunday and that's all I want….And Mario is doing just that.
In my eyes (or ears), his silence is motherfucken golden.