I was on WGR550.com mulling the current state of the Bills & Sabres when I stumbled across a poll that really got me thinking…
Do you think there is a “Terry Pegula effect” when it comes to opinions on the Buffalo Bills?
Yes. The two teams/owners seem on different planets. (84%)
No. I keep the two seperate…different circumstances. (16%)
I myself voted with the majority as an initial gut feeling, but I began thinking more and more about how could even 1% vote no? If you are strictly a Bills fan and despise hockey to the death then maybe you vote no, but is that really the case for anyone in the Greater Buffalo area?
I realize there will always be people who like football better than hockey, let’s be honest the NFL has completely replaced the MLB as America’s league (on Mad Dog radio this morning they reported that the Giants last pre-season game had double the TV ratings of any first-round MLB playoff game last season) and the NHL is still Canada’s sport. Believe me I get all that, but being from Buffalo even as if your a die-hard, sat through all 4 Superbowl losses, never missed a game Bills fan you at least respect & acknowledge the Sabres.
Getting to the point, the Bills have been awful for what seems like forever. They haven’t made the Playoffs since the 1999 “Music City Miracle” debacle & have gone through more Coaches/QB busts than I care to count. There a two consistencies for this team of late, losing & Ralph Wilson Jr. The 92 year-old owner has owned the Bills since the NFL merger in 1970 & was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009 (that’s 10 yrs after his team last made the playoffs for you math wizards). While I am thankful for everything Mr. Wilson has done for this team, in light of the excitement Terry Pegula has infused in this city, it is more apparent than ever that its’ time for him to take that long, albeit proud exit, out of the doors of the stadium that bear his name.
I have not been this excited for a Sabres season to start in sometime (that’ll be a whole different blog post). Pegula went out, opened his wallet & made this team relevant (in the National Spotlight even) which is no small feat…sure this team has been much more competitive than the Bills have been recently, but that’s precisely the point I’m trying to make. It’s one thing to be cautious of dropping large sums on flashy free agents (I’m not saying every owner has to be a Jerry Jones or Daniel Snyder, nor do I think that would be good for the league), but allowing your team to remain competitive is another story.
I know there are many people out there that would read this & disagree which is fine, you can support Ralph to the death (easier said than done, the guys 92), but what you can’t disagree with is that the “Pegula effect” as WGR coined it, is and will remain a reality in this city. Having the worst O-line in football, injuries piling up & no “future” QB doesn’t help a team that has already been ranked consistently at #31 (out of 32 for you non-NFL fans) in most major pre-season rankings.
I’ve had many people ask me, “Would you like to see Pegula buy the Bills?” and my answer is not as definitive as “YES!” because I think owning 2 professional sports franchises (especially with season that overlap) is too much & doesn’t allow you to focus on your objectives for each team. Would I like to see Golisano charge back into the Buffalo spotlight and buy the Bills? Maybe, if he was willing to spend, then again anyone would appear frugal compared to “Miser” Wilson.
In the end I know that this team has a very really chance of leaving Buffalo for somewhere like Toronto, Vegas or LA (luckily the Bills rumors on the new LA franchise were shot down immediately a few weeks ago in favor of the Chargers or possibly Raiders) so the fact I can even sit here and write a post “complaining” about the state of the ownership is a luxury, but enough is enough. If the team is going to be here & continue to take these loyal fans’ money, the least it can do is pretend like it desires to remain in the mix. Maybe we’ll finish dead last and draft the highly touted Andrew Luck who would give this team some life, but knowing our “luck” we’ll finish in third or fourth last & miss out on that opportunity too.
At the end of the day the Sabres are exciting not just because their new owner went out & made a splash, but because that splash represents something this town is unaccustomed to…winning. It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out for the Bills over the next few seasons. At 92 not even Father Time himself can live forever, so change is imminent. I just hope that unlike most of the Bills moves over the last 12 season, this change is a positive one.