Up until about 24 hours ago, I was a diehard New York Jets fan. I have been since I was about 18 and really started caring about football. That was over two decades ago. I stuck with them through thick and thin. Mostly thin… or thick… I really don’t know which one is worse in that phrase but it was mostly whatever the bad one is. I suffered through team after team of complete nobodies, a geriatric quarterback who played about five years too long, coaches who used to be good just using the Jets as a retirement fund, our one living icon appearing every few years to grope a reporter or two, hall of fame quality players running for the hills at every opportunity, the butt fumble, the hair band, the list goes on and on… The Jets have always been the North Korea of the NFL. A rogue franchise. But I got used to it.
So why am I deserting them for 2014? Michael fucking Vick. Yes. Michael Vick is worse than a butt fumble. I almost don’t need to explain why. His dog-fighting “scandal” (There really needs to be a stronger word for this level of scandal. Animal Murder Camp?) is well documented. A lot of you will say that he did his time and, by all accounts, has been a model citizen since he served 21 months in prison. I get that. I really do. I’d argue that a six year enterprise such as the one Vick created for the purpose of killing dogs for sport isn’t a “one time mistake” and the fact that he personally executed eight dogs deserved more punishment than he got, but he did serve the time he was given and has acted with humility ever since. People do deserve second chances. Butt… (That was probably one too many butt fumble references.)
I have this dog. I actually have two but only one is applicable to this story. Her name is Royal. My wife adopted her from a shelter before we met. I’ve known her since she was a little over a year old. She’s some sort of poodle-affenpinscher-schnauzer-whoknows mix. She only has one eye. She was that way when my loving wife took her in because no one else would. We’re not sure how she lost the eye. She came from a puppy mill that seized by the government. One theory is that she may have been a bait dog in a dog-fighting ring. It’s not even the most likely theory, but on the off chance that it’s correct… How can I possibly look at that little dog while wearing a Jets jersey or have her sit next to me on the couch while I cheer on Michael Vick? Royal smells bad, steals my food when I’m not looking, sucks up a lot of my money in vet bills, barks at every tiny sound and sometimes pees on my carpet. But she’s mine and I love her very much. She means a lot more to me than any sports team affiliation.
So… As long as Michael Vick is with the Jets, I am not.
I thought that supporting another team was a stronger statement than just not watching the NFL this year. For some stupid reason, I chose the Bills. So here we go.
I cannot explain nor justify this ludicrous choice. I grew up hating the Buffalo Bills. I didn’t like football much at all but I did know that I couldn’t stand the Bills. My large family would have dinner at my grandmother’s house almost every Sunday. All I heard about from my uncles was the goddamn Bills. I got tired of it. It’s the same reason I can’t stand Ketchup. I had all of the ketchup a human being is supposed to consume in a lifetime by the time I was eight and I’m done with it. I can’t even smell the stuff without gagging. I won’t touch the bottle for fear of it getting on my hands. My hatred of ketchup has reached a phobia level. For many years, I’ve felt the same about the Bills. Had enough. Couldn’t stand another drop.
And it’s not like they’ve given me much reason to change. Aside from losing four Super Bowls in a row (which is an NFL record sure to never be broken because no one will try), they’ve never been good. Not even close to good. At least the Jets threaten/tease to make the playoffs almost every year. I’ve been to a few Jets and Dolphins games at “The Ralph” and it was a shit-hole a decade ago. I can’t imagine what state it’s in now. They have the most ridiculous catchphrases in the world (Billeive?) and their fight song makes that atrocity that Scott Stapp wrote for the Florida Marlins sound like Mozart.
However, their fanbase is unquestionably one of the most dedicated in all of sports. They sit in the brutal Buffalo weather and watch their team lose again and again and again. They buy closets full of their gear and wear it proudly to places where it is sure to get them ridiculed more than they would if they wore an Obama tee shirt to a Waffle House in West Virginia. (By the way that list of places includes… Anywhere outside of western Upstate New York.) The Bills keep existing even though there is no possible way that a market as miniscule as Buffalo should be able to financially support an NFL team in 2014. They’re football’s lovable fuck-ups. As a comedian and noted bank robber once said, “They’re like the crackhead in your family. Every time you think they’ve got their shit together they steal your TV, but you love them anyway.” In a lot of ways… They are the Royal of professional sports.
I also have never understood people who support sports teams from states other than ones they live in or have lived in. It’s a foreign concept to me. I thought about the Giants. My son likes them but so does a person I loathe with the intensity of 1,000 burning suns. Hate won out over love this time around. And I look okay in red and blue so here I am. For at least one year or until Vick leaves the Jets or until the Bills get moved to Los Angeles. Whichever comes first. Maybe I’ll fall in love with them and stick around. Who knows?
For some reason, I thought that I’d have a few interesting or at least mildly amusing things to say about this venture into the black hole of sadness that is being a Buffalo Bills fan so I started this blog. I was a sports writer for a couple of years and I admit that I do miss it sometimes so this is an excuse to dip my toes back into that field. I’m not going to half-ass it. I’ll buy and proudly wear some Bills gear. I’ll watch the games. I’ll go to the Ralph. I’ll try and figure out who the hell any of these guys on the roster are. I’ll look on wikipedia and see what the “EJ” stands for and I’ll write about all of it here. Stay tuned? Keep coming back? I don’t know what you say when you sign off of a blog.