If you say it more than enough times, you'll start believing it.
We live hockey. We are hockey heaven!
Sometimes I wonder how great of fans we really are. I'm not talking about supporting a team or paying money to see them. I think when you factor in the economy, the Bills decade of decay, and the Sabres gutting their President Trophy team five years ago, it is safe to say we do pretty well with support. If we actually had a winning product, we'd sell out the stadiums until the end of time or at least until the Bills move. However, I think sometimes we have a tendency to be harder on star players than we should be. Now, I'd be the first to say star players get negative treatment in a lot of other sports markets. It is commonplace. We are a judgmental sports society. I don't know many other markets that go beyond the field of play the way Buffalo does when criticizing stars, though.
I always joke that we are waiting for the next Jim Kelly. Here's a guy who was probably the most beloved athlete in Buffalo sports. But something tells me if he was playing today, some media and some fans would still find a way to over scrutinize him. I'm sure we have all heard a Kelly rumor here and there, and you can only bet those things would be accentuated with today's social media exploits.
I bring all of this up because of the whole Mario Williams' debate. Now, I'm going to go off topic a bit here, but I think it ties in. Having his own refrigerator or own PR person, only speaking to the media on Wednesday... all of this seems so petty at this point. I mentioned how stupid the refrigerator issue was back in September when Paul Hamilton and Jerry Sullivan brought it up as a red flag for Mario's divalike attitude. Whatever. I thought it was weak and silly.
Last week, a few other stories made the rounds about Mario's media appearance schedule and how he refrigerates his Gatorade. Now this week, we have questions from some about Mario saying he didn't want to leave Houston. Really? Is that really bad? I'm pretty sure I could find old quotes from Danny Briere to London Fletcher to Tim Connolly of all people saying they didn't want to leave Buffalo. The levels of criticism that athletes experience is just unbearable right about now. Remember how much we bitched about the non-stop coverage of Tebow or T.O. on ESPN?
Media and fans alike were displeased with the overkill of stories about those guys. It was just too much. Now we are getting that with Mario Williams. He has become Buffalo's version of T.O., but in a smaller pond. It is becoming tabloid journalism or something straight out of US Weekly. The dissection of his every word is just ridiculous and we aren't even halfway through the season. Again, I don't mind the criticism about his play, but too much of the criticism is about what he's doing/saying off the field instead of playing on it.
Now, back to Fridegate. Last week's columns by Bucky Gleason and Jerry Sullivan had a bit of a paper trail leading to the Bills locker room, so this wasn't some sort of 50-year-old white guy who hates rich athletes and their egos article. It was leaking information that came from some of the players. Frankly, I think it is pretty laughable if there is jealousy in a locker room because one guy has a fridge and they don't. If this is something that is cracking the foundation of the locker room, we need to blow this fucker up. You are all millionaires. Sneak in a refrigerator or pay off the sucker who cleans the toilets there if you have to. Also, 90% of them have played like garbage this year. So, instead of worrying about Mario's ego, worry about how the team's ego is non-existent because they are playing like hot garbage.
Hey, Chris Kelsay. You wanna call out your own teammates for lack of effort? Last I checked, you've been robbing the team for a good 5 years with your stupid 6-million dollar salary. Great. So you gave the press some golden quotes. I guess they won't call you out again because you are a go-to guy in that cesspool of a locker room.
"He has a fridge and we don't. Waaaaaah."
Maybe the Bills locker room is a fricken junkyard compared to other places. We are talking about Ralph Wilson here. Not Mark Cuban. Maybe Mario walked in and was like, "Um, this is a shithole." We hardly ever get free agents who are making 100 million, right? Also, what is wrong with star athletes getting preferential treatment? It happens all the time in sports and across the country at fortune 500 companies. Jimmy Johnson did it all the time when he was with Dallas. I'm sure Marv Levy did with his big stars, right?
Maybe, we just hate rich people. I mean, how many people hate the 1% in this country right about now?
All I know is this: Mario played great against Arizona and no one really gave him that much credit for it. Yes, he did it against a rookie, but if you were to compare the praise for his stellar game against the craziness he's gotten about his wrist, refrigerator, and PR person, the praise wouldn't even register. Maybe because bad news sells better than good news? Maybe he's struggling because he's really hurt? Maybe Dave Wannstedt is a terrible coordinator who has a job because he coached with Gailey in Miami? Maybe he's overrated and it has nothing to do with fridges or being a diva? Maybe we are only 7 weeks into the season? Maybe the simplest solution is the rightist one.
Now that I've gone extremely off topic, let's get back to always looking beyond the field when finding something wrong with a player. I assure you, it isn't about the guy on the field in some of these moments.
Willis McGahee - Dude had one of the best RB years in team history (2004), but we had to get rid of him because he hated the nightlife in Buffalo. Who the hell cares? If he's playing well and scoring TDs, he can trash Utopia or Soho all he wants. Not here. We were thrilled to trade him for picks and Trent Edwards. WHY?! I still would have kept him.
Marshawn Lynch - Man, the hyperbole that has been used when talking about Lynch's off the field exploits. "He's a menace to society because he ran over someone and sped off like a thief in the night." Or... some girl was wasted and she scraped Lynch's car and had scratches and went to the hospital as a precaution. Forget the fact that he didn't do anything for 18 months after he was arrested or that cops were trying to plant stories of him taking 20 bucks from someone at Fridays. Yup, articles were written about him and fans were begging for him to get traded. Keep in mind Donte Whitner was arrested outside of a nightclub and no one raised a hair about him getting jettisoned out of here. Maybe it had something to do with him being a go-to guy in the locker room.
Ryan Miller - If you've read my takes on Miller, I've been pretty critical of him over the years. I think he's too inconsistent and maybe it is unfair of me to compare him to how he played during his Olympic year. I also hate the "That's a soft goal!/No, it wasn't!" argument that happens every time someone scores on him. However, I will not go after the guy because he's married to an actress. Last year at this time, a few people in the media and some fans were making such a big deal about this, as if he wasn't focused enough and he was on the next flight to California to tape a reality show.
Drew Stafford - He's too busy playing with his guitar. Um, okay?
Derek Roy - He parties too much and he tweeted a picture of his Ferrari. What a terrible person.
Stevie Johnson - He's celebrating too much and not concentrating enough. He blamed God which makes him a complete asshole. Righhhhhhht.
Drury/Briere- People were bugging them at Wegmans and one of their wives hated it here. I always get it mixed up which is which.
California QBs- They don't understand how to play in the elements. They are too laid back.
Am I missing anyone?
It just never seems to be about the actual play. It's about some lame-ass off the field stuff that is either brought on by Buffalo's self-confidence issues, the media's methods of sensationalism, or a stupid locker room that can't handle Maytags. Maybe Mario Williams is overrated and 90% of us didn't watch enough of his Houston games to know that. Maybe Miller struggled at times because of injuries to the blue line or maybe he's overrated. Not because of being a diva or because his wife is on some FX show.
Use your head. It doesn't have to be a reality TV Show where subplots are manifested by a creative producer. Sometimes we act like housewives who are a little too into their Soap Operas. Stop with the drama.