Bison Soup: Who Made This Nasty Minestrone?

Sometimes you throw your tried and true ingredients together and the soup comes out just fine. Sometimes you might even take a little extra time and make sure it’s special with some kind of unique garnish. Sometimes you throw what is your tried and true recipe together and the unthinkable happens; it stinks.

Not only does it stink, but you have seven people showing up at your house in two hours and no soup for them. Whaddya gonna do? Sadly, the Bison Soup for this week involves the same problem, only on the football field instead of the kitchen (I know… where most of you think I belong!).

Holy snortimer… this team is BAD! How can this happen? How did this happen? What? The Bills are BAD… AGAIN? Even the national sports media harpies are shaking their heads at this version of the Buffalo Bills. I’m certain Buddy Nix is not sleeping well at night these days, because neither is most of WNY and those of us who are far-flung from the homeland.

So… who really would have predicted in June that on October 22nd, Chris Kelsay would be calling out his teammates (and himself) for a lack of consistent effort on the field? Chris Kelsay? The most loved to be hated player by groupthink fans?

(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Being the fossil that I am, Kelsay’s impassioned plea for effort and accountability immediately brought me back to the 1984 Buffalo Bills. It was a similar time in that the team was at (another) nadir point. You could tell the team was fractured and broken, just like it seems they are right now.

That team was coached by Kaye Stephenson, who was another in a line of unsuccessful head coaches for the Buffalo Bills. The Stephenson choice appeared to be yet another set of moves made in a reactionary fashion by the owner, or at least that is how many fans viewed the situation at the time.

Fast forward to 2012, and I ask myself how much has really changed about the Buffalo Bills over the last 38 years? Well, they did go to four SBs and enjoy the “glory years” of the 90’s during that interval. At least they now have a glimpse of what it’s like to be a successful franchise in the NFL.

I have no idea what the payroll for the entire team was in 1984, but I’m guessing it would not have paid for Mario Williams signing bonus this year. If I were to take a wild guess at what is eating at the Bills DL, the two names Dareus and Mario Williams come to mind.

After watching Chris Kelsay speak at his locker yesterday, I was reminded of Phil Hansen. Some Bills fans love to rag on Kelsay because he has never been a flashy player in terms of productive stats, but like Phil Hansen, Kelsay has been Mr. Reliable year after year. Now he steps up to the plate, along with Kyle to speak out about a lack of effort being identified as a problem for this team.

It reminded me of how you would sometimes see Phil Hansen at his locker gritting his teeth when Bruce was acting like a diva back in the day. So… seven games into this season we find out there is a malignancy of malaise going on inside the belly of this beast? Hmm. So. Not. Good.

Here we are, once again, struck by the Halloween curse, the ‘Footie’ curse, or the curse made by someone’s Aunt Tilly for all I know. The Bills stink. Again. It’s almost reaching a point where it is comforting in its predictability.

What is less comforting (probably because of my fossilized status) is the effect of social media on the relationship between players and fans. I look at the #BillsMafia as a fabulous organization which provides a wonderful platform for the player/fan interface.

However, just like any shiny new toy, it comes with some danger. Sometimes both fans and players cross the lines of appropriate behavior because of the anonymity that is provided by the internet. A lot of really strange stuff sometimes gets exchanged, especially after the Bills have been blown out in a game.

Sometimes fans like myself even feel a bit patronized when a player, (who may have been in a Bills uniform for a few years at most) tries to tell people who have been fans for over 50 years to “chill” when the team lays its FOURTH rotten egg of the season. Ouch. Don’t go there, please.

Some of us have been on this pony ride before and don’t need ‘helpful advice’ for managing our fanhood, though the gesture is actually appreciated for its intent. The interface with players and fans on social media is certainly changing fan experience. I think it’s made it a much richer and more complex experience, but the jury is out on whether or not that proves to be ‘better’ in the end.

And…

just when you think you cannot be surprised by the fate of the Buffalo Bills during any given football season, they manage the nearly impossible task of underwhelming us once again. The most comforting thing about going through this now is the realization that history is a great teacher, and wisdom from experience tells me that this team is ripening for a major positive change.

Check out Wikipedia’s nice concise entry about the 1984 Buffalo Bills. I know a lot of people don’t like Wikipedia as a source, but I like it for gathering concise info in one place.

For those of you who remember the 1984 season, go back in your mind and think about the stuff Bills fans were talking about at the time. You can see the crisis as it is unfolding now, and actually it might be exactly what this team needs at this time.

It’s not a given that success will follow, just because that is what happened within a few years after the nadir of 1984. However, those of us who remember those Bills teams can attest to (or not), how the crisis period of that time helped to shape the fortunes of the Bills for the next decade.

Bills fans, take comfort in knowing that this franchise has ‘been here’ before, and from the depths of a team identity crisis can come the dawn of a new and more successful era. Take a little stroll down memory lane and smile. Besides bad hair, 1984 was not such a bad time to reflect upon. Let us stay united as friends during this tough time because we all want the same thing: a championship for the Buffalo Bills.

I don’t know who made the ‘Nasty Minestrone’ in 1984, but it looks like the first batch for 2012 has failed. Let’s hope that a bye week and some gut checks can bring a revival to our moribund team (and yes, they ARE moribund at the moment). If the “Bickering Bills” are any clue to what we are in store for… things are about to get very interesting. Stay tuned!

About Robyn Mundy

Robyn Mundy is Editor-in-Chief of the BillsMafia blog at BuffaloFAMbase.com. She's a retired oncology nurse & psychotherapist who loves to write about her life-long passion for the Buffalo Bills, and occasionally something of clinical or social relevance. Robyn lives with her husband Gary and their dogs in the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming. Robyn is also a proud founding sponsor. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynMundyWYO.