Take Off From the Great White North

At least the Bills didn’t seem to disappoint anyone in attendance by losing in hideously frustrating fashion. A simultaneously miserable and bland outing was quiet enough to make the average operating room sound like a game at, well, Ralph Wilson Stadium. Rabid ticket-holders both inhaled and exhaled following every thrilling play. Go find something fun to do in Toronto, as a Bills game isn’t it. Taking away something fun to do in Orchard Park doesn’t even out things.

(Photo by The Canadian Press, Mark Blinch/Associated Press)
(Photo by The Canadian Press, Mark Blinch/Associated Press)

Playing a home game in a different nation could only be exacerbated by the unnervingly sterile environment. The utter silence gave fans opportunities to warily ponder the motivations of Rogers Communications. The Bills’ Cloud City experiment resembles a deal with Darth Vader, and fans are as rueful as Lando. Meanwhile, poor players are sharing a baseball team’s lockers.

It would be much more relaxing if the conglomerate getting the sample didn’t want the whole scoop. Rumors of relocation won’t stop until the team’s second owner cuts the ribbon at Mighty Taco Coliseum on Lake Erie’s waterfront. As for the nightmare scenario, Jon Bon Jovi could be the tone-deaf jerk who attempts to take away Buffalo’s other home games, which would be a bigger crime against humanity than his music. We’ll chase him back to the swamps if he tries.

The Bills belong in the elements. One of the endless unpleasant aspects of the erstwhile SkyDome is how the dullness of playing inside reinforces the primitive urge to play in the snow. Nasty weather is Buffalo’s 13th man; by contrast, the 12th man was inactive Sunday.

This team can do better at home. Whether a sports franchise or talented people, retaining what’s valuable starts with the right mentality. It’s easy for Buffalonians to feel resigned to the status of a glorified town. But those in small markets should be doing everything in their power to make the market big. Residents should focus on what could be done to grow their city instead of accepting that vacant homes will never be filled. Aspire to have more instead of settling for being a have-not.

Concurrently, Buffalo lovers must figure what is restraining the area’s productivity and stop the cause. Repeating what’s failed doesn’t quite seem wise. But at least a city that has shrunken dramatically has a precedent of thriving: we know it’s capable of expansion.

If this was an audition for Toronto, they don’t deserve a callback. As usual in this dreadful series, those who bothered to show up made about as much noise as the ample empty seats. It made for an even worse fan experience than the one created by the deserted lower bowl at Leafs games. Any of our Canadian friends who want to participate in the festivities can cross the border and visit the team’s true home. The alternative is yawning at a venue where cheering is apparently unsportsmanlike.

The morgue-like atmosphere really let fans focus on the gameplay. Polite football viewers wouldn’t want to distract C.J. Spiller as he galloped across the Canadian plains or Fred Jackson getting into the end zone as a test of will. Excessive cheers might raise the decibel level enough to cause ringing in the ears, so it’s best to act like attendees of a particularly uninspiring tennis match. The Bills lost this game. But people watching in person didn’t exactly try to help them seize momentum.

The crowd went mild instead of wild. In their defense, it’s tough to remember that you’re at a professional sporting event when the athletes are playing on a faded rug that looks like the backyard from The Brady Bunch. If anyone was heartbroken by not one but two gut-wrenching fumbles, they didn’t show it. Being staid is overrated.

Mafiosi have been editorially unified in declaring that the Toronto series’ costs outweigh the gains.

It’s easy to call for the Bills to play in their real stadium at every opportunity. But everyone is just noticing that the Devil rarely offers deals with no catches.

Fans find it stressful enough to invest energy in cheering without worrying about the franchise fleeing. There is one thing more depressing than another year without tasting the postseason, namely not even having a disappointing team to support. Still, there can’t be excitement about hosting more contests in a tremendously unexciting environment. Putting an NFL team in Toronto would be like the National Hockey League trying their luck again in Atlanta.

Heading up the QEW for quick cash has been consistently humiliating. Begging a rich uncle for cash should never take the place of hustling to make your own fortune. Besides, being eliminated from playoff discussion by losing while getting zero in-house support is bad for business.

Winning franchises don’t settle for handing off one game to the municipality which contains elements that lust for all eight. Both teams may as well have worn white during what was in no way a contest featuring an NFL atmosphere. The Toronto games have been memorable for being forgettable, which is the cost the Bills should be measuring.

About Anthony Bialy

Anthony Bialy recently moved back to Buffalo from New York City and acts like he never left. He thinks "Buffalo 66" is biographical and considers it a crime against mankind that Steve Tasker is not in the Hall of Fame. He likes getting Tim Hortons on the way to get Labatt Blue. Follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyBialy.