No love for Jairus Byrd, or Bills fans
It's not many times we can right inherent wrongs in history. We can't go back in time and stop the world's tyrants from rising to power and using humanity as their personal spaghetti machine.
Even if we aimed our aspirations lower, we couldn't even stop Magic Johnson and Chevy Chase from getting talk shows.
Likewise, in a city's sports history that makes Job look like the Mega Millions Lotto winner, we can't take a mulligan on Wide Right and No Goal. (Although we can't confirm or deny we're not working on it—anyone have some spare plutonium and Dr. Emmit Brown's whereabouts?)
But a rare opportunity to atone quickly came and went this week when Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing tested positive for performance-enhancing substances and faced being Milli Vanilli-ed out of his AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year billing. As an aside, it's curious that he tested positive way back in September and we're just finding out about it now. The NFL Players Association's ability to impede justice on minutia like drug testing all but ensures a stalemate and major issues like an expired collective bargaining agreement.
Anyway, the fifty-member tribunal that ticked their ballots on their AFC freshman fave voted again, and thus swiftly ended my brief campaign to sway them to select the Buffalo Bills' Jairus Byrd in Cushing's stead. Considering Cushing essentially cheated the game (Players Union lingo, not mine) to earn his lofty status as top defensive rook, it's puzzling that the panel moved at breakneck speed to bestow him the honor all over again.
You won't see sportswriters move that fast again until NFL teams open their pressbox carving stations at the first August preseason game.
Granted, there were many obstacles in my path:
A. I'm not a member of the Associated Press panel of voters, and doubt that my AP 1998 Third Place Best Spot News Coverage Award for a fire I covered in Albion will get me into the clique.
B. This exhalted group of overweight, fantasy football-worshipping, boozehound blowhards hold the power to do the right thing, but could give a hoot in hell what obscure bloggers in suburban Buffalo think is just and fair.
C. Is the panel even aware that Buffalo still has an NFL team?
But why let such nominal hurdles stop me? I'm tired of everyone's naysaying and reasons why-not!
Seriously though, Byrd was a revelation at safety last season, picking off nine passes as a rookie in the secondary and displaying a nose for the ball that would give bloodhounds everywhere inferiority complex. For all the Bills' many misses on draft day, Byrd's selection was a huge hit. I guess when you take oodles of defensive backs in the high rounds year after year, you're bound to get a good one.
Byrd is one of the few reasons for optimism among a battered, morale-stripped and dispirited fanbase that watched the first-year man emerge as the team's only defensive playmaker; a new guy who showed the poise of a seasoned vet. Will he duplicate his amazing rookie numbers in the years ahead? Unlikely, but there's no reason to believe he'll regress and disappoint. Buffalo has few team strengths, but the team's top-four D-backs are as good as anyone's, and Byrd is the cherry atop that secondary banana split.
He may not mean as much to the Bills as Cushing did to the Texans last season, but he's certainly an important part of the future, not to mention the now, for the Bills.
Come on, AP. You couldn't have just thrown us this one bone? We don't get many team awards, let alone individual accolades. You could've warmed our tired old hearts—for perhaps just a fleeting moment—and given Jairus, who was nice enough to stear clear of The Clear, his dessert.
But now I'm just left to flip you all the Byrd.