Columns

Worth It?

The Buffalo Bills blink of a playoff appearance is an important lesson on living in the moment.

Yes, it was fun to finally have a playoff team involved in the country’s most-popular television show. Not even OJ’s old pals, the Kardashians, can pull the numbers pro football does, even after so-called anthem protest protests. And the mass show of support in both Jacksonville and at the Buffalo airport are prime examples that the Bills, and more notably, the NFL, are the area’s ticket to the big-time.

The hope was to win; not necessarily a Super Bowl, which would be a ridiculous wish for even the biggest Bills fan, but win one playoff game, extend the season and prolong that hope one week at a time.

That didn’t happen, even in arguably the most-winnable road playoff game in franchise history.

And while the party may have been fun, there’s no telling how long the hangover may last.

Had Andy Dalton not found Tyler Boyd on that 4th-and-12 in Baltimore, the Buffalo Bills would be picking 16th and 22nd in the first round of April’s draft instead of 21st and 22nd.

In a year where quarterbacks will make GMs party like it’s 1983, time will tell if a five-spot drop will be worth breaking the proverbial drought.

In fact, it harkens back to another time when Bills fans got excited over hope that backfired.

Want more? Part of the reason fans were so excited for breaking a dearth of Januarys two weeks ago is thanks to a decision that imploded, leading to a “Donahoe Effect.”

Bills fans paraded then Ralph Wilson Stadium like it was the City of Jericho when Drew Bledsoe came to town. He rewarded the faithful with seasons of 8-8 and 6-10, the latter record being the same as the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After two seasons, the Bills decided they needed to make a decision under center, boxed themselves like a coffin kick, and announced to the world they would address position in the draft, despite the fact they were selecting 13th, knowing the Chargers and Giants needed two of the three best passers available at slots one and three.

The Steelers, at 11, took Ben Roethlisberger. The Bills grabbed WR Lee Evans, then traded back into the first round for the forgettable JP Losman because rumor had it the Packers were looking for the next Brett Favre.

The Bills surrendered a first-rounder in 2005 for the opportunity to jump the Pack and get Losman before Green Bay.

The Cowboys used that pick, the 20th overall, to take Marcus Spears.

The patient Packers found their next Favre four picks later, with Aaron Rodgers.

We all know the directions of the franchises involved since, two now being Donahoe’s former teams. Hence, the Donahoe Effect.

Bledsoe was bad, but not bad enough to land the Bills in position for a future Hall-of-Famer–at least not in 2004. But, everyone, including yours truly, ignored the signs of Bledsoe’s aging and thought he would finish what Jim Kelly’s Bills started. Hence, the palm-waving before reality set-in.

Looking back, that sunny day in April of 2002 was just simply an Orchard Park lunch party instead of a Super Bowl launch party. But, the trade set the Bills back another 16 years, and perhaps even more.

Yes. The drought may be over, thanks mostly to breaks and dumb luck, but bad football hasn’t necessarily been exorcised.

The Bills need to find a quarterback, and many other needs. They not only still have to zap Donahoe’s demons, but those of another Pittsburgh guy, Doug Whaley, who purchased vegan groceries for steakhouse chefs.

And, as of today, the Bills one-and-done against one of those former Buffalo cooks in North Florida dropped them five slots in the draft.

Two slots cost them Big Ben in 2004. And two years earlier, we thought the Bills were lucky to land Big Drew. Looks like the Rooneys held the four-leaf clover all along.

The Bills enjoyed the luck of America’s tallest leprechaun, Andy Dalton, three Sundays ago in Baltimore. But, will that luck work against them come April and beyond?

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. They’d better hope so. In fact, this writer thinks they’ll have to trip over a passer to get it right because this QB class is much more style than substance.

The Bills broke the drought. Gave people an extra week of football, filled with hope. Gave fans excuses to leave a wintry WNY to trash Jacksonville as if it were the Super Bowl. But, the last 14 days aren’t the right time to decide if this was all worth it, given the minimal payoff.

If the Ravens find their next franchise quarterback, at 16 mind you, and the Bills miss with two of their picks, imagine the day Ravens fans realize THEY should send Dalton and Boyd charity money. It’ll likely coincide with the day knowledgeable Bills fans will ask for refunds.

Not saying that will happen, but if life has taught us anything, sometimes it’s not necessarily that it’s better to be lucky than good, but being careful what you wish.

The anticipation of a the first meaningful January football game in four presidents was fun. But, the loss was not only disappointing, but frustrating; we waited 17 years to lose a playoff game by four points to a former head coach who has now flipped the franchise the bird twice.

It’s now up to Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane to take the franchise back.

In April, we’ll have the first real clue as to whether that trip south was worth it.

It was nice to be lucky for once. But did a playoff wish-come-true cost a trip to the Super Bowl?

Hopefully, we’ll never find out.