Crankypants Rod Watson won't let Bills fans enjoy their week

As you undoubtedly know by now, the Buffalo Bills are a playoff team for the first time since I reached puberty. Doug Flutie still won't be their quarterback for their showdown in Jacksonville, but another quarterback who's a slightly undersized dual threat will be under center so it's all okay.

Since the last time the Bills played beyond Week 17, we've lived through eight Fast and Furious movies, four presidencies, the deaths of Robin Williams, short airport waits, AIM, and Osama bin laden, the entirety of Arnold Schwarzenegger's political career, and the releases of 25 different variations of Pepsi. The fact that no Bills playoff games occurred in the same span that featured two separate TV shows starring Kevin James and Leah Remini is something to marvel at.

But Buffalo News columnist Rod Watson is not amazed. Or amused. Or even apathetic. In fact, he's downright angry.


At the inevitable watch parties, we should use halftime for mass therapy sessions to reaffirm what should be obvious: There are things more important than Tyrod Taylor’s quarterback rating. A city with Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan masterpieces, Underground Railroad sites and a burgeoning medical campus should not have to fixate on LeSean McCoy’s all-purpose yardage.

Watson's beef lies not with the fact that football is the talk of the town now. It's that he believes we need to be focusing on other things more. Fine. Valid point.

But allow me to rebut.

The global issues stirred up in the editorial include:
  • Donald Trump's chaotic presidency
  • Kim Jong Un's obsession with launching a nuclear warhead
  • The stripping down of the EPA
  • The moratorium and repeal of various civil rights and liberties
  • The newly-passed Republican tax bill
While closer to home, these are also going on:
  • Corruption trials in Albany
  • The perennial failure of the Buffalo Public Schools
These are unquestionably weighty subjects with immeasurable impacts on our daily lives. But it's nothing new that Trump tweeted something he shouldn't have and we're all aware of the problems that plague the city's schools. But here's the thing: Nearly every single student in the district today was born after this playoff drought began on January 8, 2000. It'll be 17 years and 364 days since the last time the Bills made a postseason appearance when they finally make their next one. The rarity of this event is why people are so eager to talk about it.

And Eric Simons, author of "The Secret Lives of Sports Fans," cautioned in a 2015 Washington Post op-ed about changes going on inside a fan’s head.

"It is not an obnoxious affectation when a devotee uses the word ‘we;’ it’s a literal confusion in the brain about what is ‘me’ and what is ‘the team,’ " he wrote.

All of which is great.

But are these the delusional souls you want to trust with your stock portfolio, your next surgery or your car’s brake job?

I'm going to take a wild guess and assume that the majority of people Mr. Watson has interacted with since Sunday have been his colleagues at the Buffalo News. By following his logic, should we also me wary of trusting those "delusional souls" being able to accurately feed us the news?

Think about the average evening news cycle on WGRZ or World News Tonight. The lead stories are usually the hefty ones: What Trump did on Day X of his presidency, what legislators are fighting about now, a looming Supreme Court ruling, Governor Cuomo's latest State of the State, the annual report showing BPS still can't graduate 65 percent of its students. After the same old same old, they move to new stuff including weather, accidents, homicides, and at the very end, the feel-good stuff like sports and community heroes.

There's a reason these broadcasts are formatted that way. Whatever is most important is put first. Like arranging the meat shelves at a grocery store, the more urgent stuff that needs to be put out first is placed up front for consumers. That'd be the beef or chicken that's set to expire sooner. The meat that can wait - that people can essentially take their time to get to - is put in the back, and is cycled forward as buyers come through and pick it off the shelves. The news is no different. People need to know what's going on, so producers ensure the essentials are covered first. After that, what is covered and what is heard is completely discretionary.

In a town that knows disappointment is hardly contained to a patch of green turf, give people a break for finding something new to discuss that's inherently positive.

Of course making the playoffs is a plus; all I’m asking for is a little perspective.

What perspective? We're not oblivious to what's going on in the world around us. We finally have something that isn't just inherently positive but can rally and unite the community in a way few things in the last 18 years have. The proposed Bass Pro Shops was a disaster, but with great effort the corpse of the waterfront was revitalized into something that's become a beacon of the turnaround. People loved talking about that when it was being built (and still do!), and what does it really do in the long run? Give kids a place to skate, adults a place to enjoy music, and celebrate a ship designed to be used in war? Not exactly big picture stuff, but these things still matter.

So spare me the nonsense of my financial adviser not being able to focus on my portfolio because of a football game. My financial adviser is my dad and believe it or not, he's extremely capable of thinking about football when he wants to and his job when he needs to.

Spare me the lunacy of filling my halftime with talk about a Frank Lloyd Wright house that has been there for over 110 years. It's a fine house and a decent ego boost to our city but it doesn't require daily acknowledgement. When's the last time you went to Niagara Falls, Rod?

The truth is, the Bills making the playoffs doesn't affect how diplomatic our president will act tomorrow. It won't bring an end to corruption in politics, it won't solve the problems children face in school, and it won't even help me put food in my belly tonight. For that, I had to go to work two weeks ago and wait for my direct deposit to hit. I'm at work right now, and despite the fact I'm talking about a playoff team in Buffalo, it still hasn't deterred me from being able to do my job effectively. In fact, if you want tickets to the game in Florida, Mr. Watson, I would be happy to help point you in the right direction.

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