Welcome to Day 7 of our Celebrity Blog Series!
As you all know, Bills fans are everywhere. In all areas of the world and in all segments of society.
A few months ago, we came up with the idea of asking some of the more well known fans in the media and Twittersphere if they’d be interested in contributing a guest column for BillsMafia.com to help kick off the 2012 season. The topic could be whatever they chose to write on. The team’s outlook, the team’s history, their thoughts on the Bills Mafia movement… anything really. One contributor will even be sharing his Fantasy Football tips.
Wait, “one contributor?” What’s that supposed to mean? Well, we’re going to have some fun with it and wait until the article is actually posted to reveal who that day’s writer is.
Today, Kevin Connors, SportsCenter host for ESPN and avid Bills fan, shares his thoughts on the 2012 Bills.
Do you believe in Miracles?
Forgive me if I don’t.
Try as I may to put the sting of the Music City Miracle behind me, it lingers like the stench of those Super Bowls – ones that need not be identified by their Roman Numerals. Every Buffalo Bills fan knows which Super Bowls those Super Bowls are.
Wide right. Thurman’s lost helmet. 52-17. The one that got away.
And yet the 2000 AFC Wild Card Playoff game remains another haunting reminder of the Bills snake-bitten past. To this day I’m not convinced Frank Wychek’s pass wasn’t a forward lateral – and I’ve broken that play down like it was the Zapruder Film. Regardless, the game remains the last moment of real relevance for a franchise – our franchise – which enters the 2012 season as the owners of the NFL’s longest current playoff drought. 12 years without a postseason game. 12 years without a double-digit win season. 12 long years.
But where there is despair there is hope – a dangerous word in Buffalo since the turn of the century. Still, hope is a good thing – maybe the best of things – and entering Bills Training Camp 2012 it abounds.
The signing of Mario Williams in March was the spark that lit the powder keg, the clearest indication in years that the franchise’s frugal ways of the past have given way to the desire to win, and win now. Landing the market’s marquee free agent spoke volumes about the team’s plans to identify itself on the defensive side of the ball.
Fellow free agent Mark Anderson followed (leaving the Patriots of all teams) bringing his 10 sacks from a season ago with him to Buffalo. Williams and Anderson will pair with D-Line anchor Kyle Williams and emerging 2nd-year stud Marcell Dareus to give the Bills, arguably, the most formidable front four in football.
What if Nick Barnett can play with the same chip he had on his shoulder in 2011, after being all but given up on by the Packers? What if Aaron Williams can live up to expectations that warranted his 2nd round pick in 2011? What if Stephon Gilmore is the physical tackling, ball-hawk blend Buddy Nix said he was surprised to see on the board when the Bills drafted him 10th overall this past April?
What if Ryan Fitzpatrick is the quarterback we saw through the first seven weeks of the 2011 season – the one that threw 14 TD’s & seven INT’s, and not the one we saw over the final nine weeks of the 2011 season? Fitzpatrick threw just 10 TD’s and had a terrible 16 INT’s over that stretch. What if Stevie Johnson finally puts it all together and receives more praise for catching the football, than he does flack for what he does after he catches the football? What if Fred Jackson can finish in the top-three in rushing yards (he was third in the NFL through 10 games of the 2011 season before suffering a broken leg in Week 11) and what if CJ Spiller can realize his explosive potential? What if?
As my own network – and countless others – bathe in coverage of Tim Tebow, Jerry Jones and Peyton Manning, as well as the other usual suspects, I’m part puzzled, part pleased that the Bills remain on the periphery. Relevance and recognition should be earned and Super Bowl titles are not won between March and August. Still, the dream of ‘what if’ seems that much more vivid this summer. Hope seems less dangerous of a word.
Is this season the start of something special in Buffalo? Do you believe in miracles?