Off the field, an eventful summer for the Bills
So much for a ho-hum summer in which the rebuilding Buffalo Bills would fly under the proverbial radar, perhaps to the extent they might sneak up on a team or two in September.
Quite to the contrary: the Bills have been in the news. Granted, once again for all the wrong reasons:
• Let's start with all the talk that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and league officials steered Michael Vick toward the Philadelphia Eagles, discouraging him from coming to Cincinnati or Buffalo—the latter of which positively, desperately, absolutely needed (beg your pardon, still needs) a skilled quarterback.
Both Vick and the league offices fiercely backpedaled away from that assertion this week, even though Vick's comments to GQ clearly state Goodell and his gang of suits "guided" the former dogfighting aficionado toward Southeastern Pennsylvania. The sides' responses were nauseatingly predictable: the tiresome damage-control rhetoric used to un-ring the bell whenever a professional athlete sticks a size-15 cleat into his cakehole.
To truly believe there's impropriety afoot with the Commissioner's Office, you'd have to buy the insinuation that Vick could quietly go about his comeback in Philadelphia, whose sports media and fans make "Thunderdome" look like a gathering of Franciscan monks. For those suffering from long-term memory loss, the folks who booed Mike Schmidt, cheered Michael Irvin's spine injury and whipped snowballs at Saint Nick were treated to plenty of ink and airtime related to Vick's return to pro football last summer.
Of course, all of this is a moot point for Bills Nation: whether Vick wanted to play in Buffalo or not, we're all acutely aware the Bills' front office and ownership sorely lacks the vision, money, wherewithall and cajones to bring a top-notch talent to the team. Here's a memo to the Bills and Bengals: when you run your organization like a pair of third-graders run a lemonade stand, you surrender the right to huff and puff when your teams are publicly dissed and dismissed.
And isn't it probably time for player agents to be a little more finicky in choosing which magazines their clients ought to "talk" with? Pittsburgh's James Harrison offered up one of the most vitriolic, boneheaded interviews of the past decade to Men's Journal in July--his comments were at best boorish, at worst menacing. At least the Vick/GQ interview wasn't filled with threats and petulant name-calling.
These rags confirm every suspicion that American men now spend their 30s, 40s—even 50s and 60s (!)—in a suspended state of adolescence. Women who dare to pry these rags open must despair that all us guys seem to think or care about are sports cars, rock-climbing, male "enhancement" and steroids.
It's bad enough players incessantly scribble on cyperspace's bathroom wall (Twitter) to air their thoughts. Having guys like Harrison and Vick create verbal brushfires in the likes of GQ, Men's Journal, and their growling imitators hurts the league's ludicrous rhetoric about being a bastion of family-friendly entertainment, and further fortifies the cement wall of alienation between fans and players.
• Lee Evans' trade to the Baltimore Ravens lends credence to the theory that the Bills have no desire or intent to win football games anytime soon, but rather to coast along and count their millions while we're subject to rallying behind the NFL's junior varsity club. You're telling me you were shocked the team would divest itself of Evans' salary to help further line its pockets with the savings? By the way, GM Buddy Nix's explanation that the move paves the way for younger players to emerge insults our intelligence and verifies that our unwavering loyalty is habitually abused in order to justify the desperate penny-pinching that defines the culture at One Bills Drive.
• Aaron Maybin got cut--probably about two years behind schedul—-earlier this week and was almost immediately scooped up by the New York Jets. There's a silver lining here: it opens up a roster spot for an actual football player, and we were also treated to that rare belly laugh when the pint-sized linebacker said he couldn't wait to face the Bills this season. Maybin's comments insinuate that he somehow got a raw deal here, when it fact he collected millions upon millions in exchange for being the most legendary of all Buffalo's first-round busts, a dubiously deep list indeed. I'll be shocked if Maybin ever sees the field with New York, and I'll be flabbergasted if he's not out of football by next August.