It’d be easier to leave pessimism behind if it didn’t hunt us down like a mob capo looking for a gambling debtor. The Bills’ biggest rival is an intangible noun. It’s hard enough to win without your best player getting hurt in the most mundane setting imaginable. Nobody on the roster has torn a muscle opening a pickle jar, but training camp hasn’t started yet.
There’s only good news for Kiko Alonso if my swearing helps cure him. The desire to enjoy watching him play is apparently too greedy a request. Despondency isn’t an occasional challenge with which to cope: soul-crushing updates are scheduled as regularly as practices. Can Samson Reinhart play linebacker?
Forget even anticipating eminence. Bills backers have long been relegated to merely hoping that nothing will go badly. Even simple longing for aversion from calamity has been fruitless. A prophet capable of finally leading the team out of an intolerable exile lost his second season, which is tough for those who lean toward disheartenment.
Planning around injury isn’t a new hobby. The tendency for setback was already anguishing enough by the time defensive kingpin Sam Cowart’s season ended partway through the 2001 opener. In geological terms, his Achilles injury may as well have been the first day.
This wouldn’t be the Bills without the sense that everything’s about to fall apart. We’re already accustomed to every error being magnified. By now, a disastrous injury as far from the game as possible doesn’t even feel surprising. Small missteps shouldn’t routinely turn into cataclysms.
A devastating busted knee preempted the usual in-season chop block. It’s practically an annual ritual in Western New York to brace for the defense faltering if the offense is stalwart, or vice versa; if they’re both playing well, a kickoff lapse will doom them. I was once innocent enough to think Mike Pettine leaving would be this year’s biggest personnel change to address.
If life’s purpose is to handle hardship, those following the Bills are better equipped than any other sports fans. Still, it would be nice if the squad could recover from its traditional sucker punch. Other franchises seem able to overcome injuries instead of resorting to Morrissey-level self-pity. Booting the grime of this world in the crotch is a tougher plan than it seems. It takes active resolve to see crises as a way to build strength. When all you’ve known for a decade and a half is crushing news, today’s bad break is more likely to make you mope semi-permanently.
Some lamentation is normal. Rueful Mafia members may not even presently feel like spreading tales of Alonso’s legend, although the surgeon should be prepared to dent the scalpel. Until then, Nigel Bradham has the opportunity to establish his own lore if he can cover enough ground this camp. This team should be determined to swarm to rushers and clog passing options without Kiko, even if it seems sacrilege. Pitching in while he’s hobbled would be creating depth before his return, for which we’ll still count the hours.
While disappointment came early, so did the chance to recover from it. The interval from Canada Day to Labor Day provides ample time to either pout or learn. I know which one Kiko would choose. The franchise has an entire training camp to not only replace the irreplaceable but also focus on how there are still 16 games to go no matter how daunting each of them seems now. They can’t let themselves feel defeated before the opener, as wallowing in anguish creates self-fulfilling prophecies.
At least Buffalo has time to work through these melancholy moments. Fate wounded fans earlier than usual, but at least the Bills can deal with the worst now. The only way Alonso’s injury could have created more anguish would be if it happened during the opener and left them having to patch the corps during a game week.
Superman’s knee getting whacked with Kryptonite leaves an obviously daunting security lapse that can nonetheless be managed with the help of the other Super Friends. The only thing close to heroic asked of fans is to not assume the season’s over before it begins.