Some people are fans of the Buffalo Bills. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Buffalo Bills. This 2021 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your team: Buffalo Bills.
Your 2020 record: 13-3, in which the Bills broke the Patriots’ stranglehold on their division, broke their own 25-year drought without a playoff victory, and made it all the way to the AFC title game. Let’s a take a look at what happened when they did:
Buffalo was up 9-0 at the beginning of this game, and then gave up three touchdowns to the Chiefs in the second quarter alone. Their strategy of clawing back into the game? ALL KICKIN’, ALL THE TIME. It’s like trying to escape from Alcatraz using a fucking shoehorn. I expect this kind of behavior from the Bills in a Super Bowl. But in the game prior? For shame.
Last year, a lot of Bills fans wrote in and said, “We’re gonna win the Super Bowl right in the middle of a pandemic because life is shit,” which is a pretty galling humblebrag when you think about it. But those fans turned out to be broadly correct in the absolute funniest way possible. In 2020, the Bills established themselves as a conference powerhouse and then field-goaled themselves right out of a chance at the Super Bowl. And, save for a few VIP mothballs they let in for their two home playoff games, no one saw it. The greatest season the Bills have had this century, and it may as well have happened in fucking outer space. And they didn’t even get a ring out of it. How marvelous.
Your coach: Sean McDermott. Why’d you pull a Martyball, Coach?
“Maybe if I had to do it all over again, I would have went for maybe one of them.”
Call it a 25 percent chance he does anything differently after being presented with an extraordinary amount of evidence to do so. It’s as if Bill O’Brien died for nothing.
Do they have a Guy on the coaching staff? Former Heisman winner Ken Dorsey is your quarterbacks coach. Heisman winners make great Guys to Remember: Dorsey, Chris Weinke, Eric Crouch, Jason White, O.J. Simpson. Remember O.J. Simpson? Whatever happened to that Guy?
Your quarterback: Josh Allen, the country bumpkin who magically went from a busted Juggs machine to an MVP candidate the second Stefon Diggs came into town. The Bills then rewarded Allen with $150 million in guaranteed money. Meanwhile, Diggs is currently the 19th-highest paid wideout in football. I’m sure this’ll cause no internal strife of any sort.
You might think that Allen’s deal ensures stability at quarterback and that the Bills will win 12-plus games a year every year going forward. But lemme tell you something: No other quarterback in football screams Local Hayseed Wins Powerball And It Ruins His Life more than Josh Allen. Come Halloween, he’ll hand out little baggies of meth that he brewed out of his gold-plated bathtub. He’s Ryan Leaf with better coaching, and I still don’t think he’s vaccinated.
Speaking of Ryan Leaf, your backup is Mitch Trubisky.
What’s new that sucks: You know.
Cole Beasley actually made the NFL 100 this summer, which means that the NFL doesn’t have 100 good players in it. Counterintuitively, the advent of the COVID vaccine means that NFL players are in greater danger of ending up on the COVID list in 2021 than they were last season, when there was no vaccine at all. Cole Beasley is the reason why. And while Beasley may be the loudest and stupidest anti-vax athlete out there—against stiff competition—he’s hardly alone in being the only Bills player protesting the idea of preventable death.
“It’s tough. It’s frustrating. It’s challenging, however you want to say it,” McDermott said Thursday, via John Wawrow of the Associated Press. “But I can’t make the decision for them.”
The Bills placed four unvaccinated players, including Beasley, into five-day self-isolation on Tuesday after the players came in close contact with a vaccinated trainer who tested positive for COVID-19. Receiver Gabriel Davis and defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Vernon Butler were the other unvaccinated players who must continue to quarantine this week.
This is what your season is gonna look like, Buffalo. When GM Brandon Beane rightly said he’d cut unvaccinated players this offseason, he got a stern call from the principal’s office and never ended up making good on his threat. So all that triumphant shit you that you Bills fans had to enjoy vicariously a year ago will be quickly wiped out by half of the roster getting put in dry dock because a quarter of the roster left town on the off day to go bow hunting. Everything you loved about the 2020 season will only appear in fits and starts. The rest of 2021 will resemble something like this:
Elsewhere on the roster, Emmanuel Sanders arrives from whatever team he was last with. There are no tight ends. The guards are crap. The running game is still unreliable. The Lake Effect Diner closed. And Isaiah McKenzie’s vaccination card is probably forged.
What has always sucked: The Bills’ stadium lease is up two years from now. SO WHO’S FIRED UP FOR ANOTHER ROUND OF NEW STADIUM FRAUD?!
Every nascent stadium deal is born in a stupefying whorl of idealized numbers (60,000 seats, 60 suites, 72 IV stations for drunk fans who just shat themselves) and blurred logistics. Like so:
At issue is how quickly a deal can be approved, and how the construction costs would be split between the team and taxpayers. The Bills have already said team owners Terry and Kim Pegula are committed to sharing part of the cost, but have not identified how much.
I bet they haven’t.
The expectation is the state and county will be asked to cover more than 50% of the project.
I BET THEY WILL.
This is how the fuckery begins. It also sets in motion an even bigger loss than the AFC title game was. The Bills might have the least leverage of any NFL team horny for a new stadium. Their test run in Canada already resulted in Torontonians all but telling them to fuck off. No one outside of Buffalo gives a shit about this team. The only politician to pay attention to Buffalo itself since McKinley got shot was Andrew Cuomo, and now he’s gone, with his project to revitalize Buffalo (HAHAHAHAHA) going down as but one of his minor disgraces.
The Pegula family had a three-year head start with owning the Buffalo Sabres. So if you want a preview of the Bills’ longer-term outlook, it’s not great. They’re gonna spend the next two years oscillating between celebrating their stadium plan and making transparently idle threats to leave for Austin. And then they’ll either move the Bills or—and this is more likely—they’ll successfully extract a few minor concessions from lifeless WNY suckers to build a new stadium in Orchard Park that’s 10 percent nicer the old one and 60,000 percent more expensive.
Again, that’s precisely what these fans deserve. I have some affection in my heart for Cleveland fans, who, like the Bills, had the bittersweet experience of watching their team finally un-fuck itself in the middle of the pandemic. I harbor no such lingering affection for #BillsMafia, which is comprised exclusively of Stoolies, heavyset aunts wearing Tevas, and people determined to make the end of the Afghanistan war their new Benghazi.
It was really nice to see you guys win the AFC East, but I assure you that was a one-year blip. Mac Jones will become the Terminator. The Patriots will be on top of the East again faster than you people can eat a whole stack of cheese slices. Cole Beasley will murder half the offense with his COVID spittle. Allen will retweet a Blue Lives Matter account endorsing ivermectin to cure blackness. McDermott will begin kicking field goals on THIRD down. And then you’ll be right back where you’ve been for the past two decades: sitting there alone, in a boring stadium, surrounded by clinically depressed slobs all while your team scraps its way through an unwatchable 6-11 season. You’ll be unloved, unmissed, and utterly forgotten. This is for the best. I lived through the ’90s and if I could have erased the Bills from that part of my life, I would have. Enjoy Purgatory 2.0, you fucking losers. And fuck Beasley with an American flag.
Ratto says: Cole Beasley is a self-absorbed dunce. That is all. Nothing else about Buffalo is annoying enough to mention, but Beasley clears all tables. The idea that anyone would pay him not to get sick is hilarious. I would absolutely give him distemper and Dutch elm disease for free. BEST NAME TO HEAR ON TV: Rachad Wildgoose.
What might not suck: Have you seen the rest of this division?
HEAR IT FROM BILLS FANS!
I don’t trust this shit.
…I don’t trust this shit.
I’ve been a Bills fan for 20 years and this was unequivocally the greatest season in my life. It *still* ended the same way virtually every other season did: with Tom Brady going further than the Bills and winning a damn Super Bowl.
The amount of delusion that Bills fans had leading up to the AFC title game against the Chiefs would make even the biggest QAnon believer say, “Calm down with your bullshit.”
There’s no fucking way that Cole Beasley isn’t gonna “LET’S GOOOOO” into everyone’s mouths and cause a string of forfeits.
Bills fans have been waiting over two decades to return to relevance, and somehow the only thing anyone is really discussing re: the Bills is how many of these guys think they are tougher and meaner than a virus.
It’s comforting to know that we’ve already hit the high-water mark of the Josh Allen era with our AFC title game appearance. Because we ain’t ever getting past Mahomes and the Chiefs. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. We needed two Justin Tucker doinks the week before just to GET there. Gonna bank on that happening again?
The most publicly-visible portion of our fanbase looks like the rave scene from the second Matrix movie was recast with the rednecks from Deliverance.
It’s literally impossible to emotionally invest in our quarterback.
When people tell me they’re taking their kids to a Bills game, I contemplate calling Child Protective Services.
I can’t wait for Cole Beasley to bring the whole thing crashing down.
Allen and Beasley are the most unvaccinated men the league has ever seen. Emmanuel Sanders is hot garbage but once Beasley contracts the Epsilon variant he’s gonna become the #2 option. This team is designed to cruise to 13-4 and then get smacked by the Chiefs 42-7 in the AFC championship.
What is the point of going to games if I have to pay attention and get nervous in the second half instead of just getting excessively drunk? God damn it.
Remember when the Bills sent me a season ticket renewal postcard with Brian Moorman punting out of the endzone against the Browns?
The last Bills game I went to was Bills/Jets in December 2019 where I chugged Twisted Tea from a medical pouch out of someone’s coat jacket while standing in line to enter the stadium. I was violently ill for the next week and a half.
I still own a James Hardy jersey.
The only solace I have in living in Buffalo is that it will be the last place in the USA not transformed into a 120-degree hellscape by climate change.
We wasted the window where Josh Allen had to contend with zero crowd noise, and now Cole Beasley will spread the Zeta variant throughout the entire locker room. It was fun while it lasted.
Sean McDermott is so health-obsessed he thinks Greek yogurt is an indulgence and even his moron players won’t get vaccinated.
I’m more disappointed in them now than I was when they lost their fourth Super Bowl in a row.
I live an objectively pleasant life. I’m loved, I’m happy, I’m healthy, I’m lucky in so many ways. If the Bills ever win a Super Bowl, I will almost definitely die in a snowbank that night. And that’s the happiest possible timeline for me.
Sorry, mom. You tried.
I started watching EPL a few years ago and glommed on to Everton because Tim Howard played there and he’s cool. I explained to my wife when she asked if they were good that they’re usually middle of the pack, pretty good but will probably never be good enough to win it all unless they get on some crazy run of luck. Might back into the Euro League a couple times a decade.
Her response: “You had every soccer team in the world to choose from, hundreds of teams from dozens of leagues. Why the hell did you choose the Bills?”
I follow Chelsea now.
Drew, I have dreamt about what it would be like to have this team go on a run. Would I go home to Buffalo and watch playoff games with my family? Would I have a watch party at my house with my closest friends? Would I go out to watch the game at a local bar celebrating with strangers? Or maybe I’d actually get to a playoff game in person! Oh, the joy of being in a stadium full of fellow fans as our collective team secures its first playoff win since I was a kid!!
No Drew, I got to sit on the couch alone in my house, trying to keep the volume down so I didn’t wake my wife and toddler. And now, with the pandemic slightly less deadly, I actually could fulfill my sports watching fantasies. But I know for a fact that Cole Beasley is going to give this whole team COVID and they’re going 7-10.
And you know the saddest part? I bet if there wasn’t a pandemic for the playoff run I would have been in the exact same god damn spot, eating soggy take out, watching Patrick Mahomes crush my hopes and dreams.
Just a quick update on how Terry and Kim Pegula’s non-Bills ventures are going.
-The Sabres are starting another rebuild after finishing last overall in the NHL for the fourth time in eight years, and are a year away from breaking the all-time record for most consecutive playoff misses. Meanwhile, they’re allegedly losing $40-60 million per year on the team.
-They fired the Sabres entire minor league staff seemingly without cause. When Sabres GM Jason Botterill refused to be the one to do the firing, they fired him and replaced him with a GM that had been working with youth hockey players and had no prior management experience. For his first season, he didn’t even have an assistant GM or most of a scouting staff.
-Kim Pegula serves as the President of the Bills, Sabres, Buffalo Bandits, Rochester Nighthawks and Rochester Americans (AHL) despite her having no professional experience of any kind.
-They fired almost everyone employed by the Bills and Sabres during the pandemic and have not yet gotten around to filling all of those spots. This came after a pre-pandemic series of video conferences with employees, which stressed being more financially efficient. One of the goals listed during the presentation was “maintaining the family lifestyle.” Soon after, they had to pause construction on their superyacht. But, there’s a happy ending: the yacht has since been completed.
-The gaudy, gigantic restaurant they opened outside of Keybank Center in Buffalo in 2014, which is basically a worse, more expensive Applebees, has been closed since March 2020 and will be reopening under new ownership.
-The other less gaudy, but still gigantic bar/brewery/restaurant they co-own with Labatt fired all of its workers in March 2020 and has yet to reopen.
-They’ve doubled down on the US fracking market despite other, larger firms cashing out.
-They cut one-third of jobs from their marketing firm just two years after forming it.
-In what should have been a stress-free, easy interview with the Athletic about his childhood love of baseball, Terry said that Roger Maris was treated more unfairly than any baseball player in history. This would, of course, include Jackie Robinson and every other player from the days of segregation.
So you could say I’m nervous about them potentially having even a little bit of control over the Bills.
I was at a house party a few years back where I witnessed a fis fight started before anyone had time to finish their first beer. The dust-up was over who was the better quarterback: Jim Kelly or Dan Marino. Pro-Dan Man wasn’t even belligerent or cocky, he was just having what he thought was a fun argument until he ended up in a headlock and his head was used to dent a refrigerator door. Toward the end of the night someone cut the breakers to the house, and when the lights came back on a few minutes later, there was a dogpile on Pro-Dan Man because Bills fans are Bills fans.
And Tremaine Edmunds can only make tackles 5 yards past the line of scrimmage, and can’t cover tight ends, but I’m not bringing that up at any party.
Most of Bills Mafia is a pack of barely-made-it-out-of-high-school mediocrities who spend
eighty percent of their income on season tickets to games that they’re too drunk and concussed to remember. They all live in the frozen wasteland between the city of Buffalo and the Pennsylvania state line, flying Trump flags outside of their shanties and sleeping with a gun next to the bed in case Antifa shows up one night to steal the tractor.
They venture into Buffalo twice a year, once for a Sabres game and once for “Dyngus Day”, a local Polish holiday where people go to their grandparents’ neighborhood to litter and complain about how great it was before “the blacks.”
August 2021: The Bills open training camp with a roster that rivals any in franchise history. Fans can’t believe that they get to unironically wear the same QB’s jersey for a fourth year running, let alone contemplate football in February. Sky’s the limit!
August 2022: Cole Beasley is the governor of breakaway Upstate New York. The seceded state’s flag is a silhouette of a mullet. Bills change logo to a vaccine card with “HIPPA” misspelled in crayon. Terry and Kim Pegula move the team to Florida, where they have been bunkered since refusing to issue refunds to fans for home games forfeited after Bills’ locker room unvax’d COVID outbreak. At the same time they’re paying four fired Sabres head coaches. We deserve every bit of it.
I want you to imagine that you’re an Emergency Room physician. I want you to imagine that, for over a year and a half, you have been dealing with the worst pandemic in over a century. Constantly donning and doffing PPE, hand sanitizing, and watching helplessly as many patients die with their loved ones saying goodbye over iPads because we can’t allow visitors into hospitals due to risk of exposure. Now, imagine that the thing that you care about the most in life is the Buffalo Bills. Their improbable run to the AFC championship legitimately helped soothe some of your quickly-developing PTSD. But now, as the season rapidly approaches, they become the poster-child for vaccine “skepticism” led by a concussed slot receiver and the starting safety’s IG-thot wife. We are legit Super Bowl contenders this year and yet I long for the simplicity of the Trent Edwards days because at least then the bunch of MAGA-CHUD western NY’ers that make up a large portion of our fan base were too busy doing lines off of each other’s genitals and going through burning tables while high on Flutie Flakes to talk politics. Of course, this is the same city that is looking to abolish the position of mayor because a socialist won the democratic primary, so I’m not really sure what I expected.
“Hey, I decided I’m not gonna get vaccinated, it’s my choice and I don’t care what anyone has to say about it”
“Ok, sure thing dude”
“Seriously, I’m not gonna get it, everyone needs to just back off and respect my decision! I’m done talking about it”
“K, heard you loud and clear the first time”
“Whatever happened to God’s will! I’m gonna exercise and stay hydrated!!”
“I’d rather die living! I might have to retire if I don’t stop getting harassed”
“Didn’t you say you were done talking about it?”
At 33 years old, I’ve spent my entire life waiting for a Bills team do anything other than sell me false hope in the form of a Terrell Owens signing, or big draft trades to get “their guy” in Sammy Watkins or (gag) EJ Manuel.
Finally, we get that…in the year of the pandemic. You don’t know loneliness in sports if you’re not high-fiving your cat, shooing you six-year-old away from your chips and dip, and rewatching the fourth quarter of a playoff game via Twitter highlights because you got too far in to the bottle of Deep Eddy and don’t remember shit.
After years of futility and ineptitude, this bumbling franchise has finally put together a winner that is fun to watch, but my enjoyment of has turned to ash in my mouth. Josh Allen becoming a good QB just plays up all the insatiable Twitter defenses/racial dog whistles a loud segment of Bills Mafia employs whenever someone brings up the valid point that Lamar Jackson is a great football player, which then turn into the cringey “We’ll donate money to your charity to show you we aren’t bad people” drives.
Fuck Sean McDermott with Andy Reid’s playbook.
Fuck Tom Brady with the COVID vaccine needle he definitely never got.
Fuck Terry Pegula with the biggest, most ornate beer tap handle from any one of his shitty restaurants.
Oh and fuck Cole Beasley with a COVID-infected dildo in the shape of DeAndre Hopkins.
The 2020 Bills brought my brother and I closer together. We’d have weekly phone calls, and this franchise that has brought us all so much pain and embarrassment for more than two decades was finally a bright spot in our lives. I don’t think I’ve ever been as happy as when Taron Johnson picked off Lamar Jackson and took it to the house.
This was the best Bills team of my lifetime. And yet, all of this celebration and unabated joy for a team that still got run off the field during the AFC Championship Game. It feels somewhat pathetic that this relative progress is the absolute zenith of Bills fandom for anyone who didn’t witness the four Super Bowl losses in real-time. I can’t even fucking imagine what a Super Bowl appearance would be like, let alone a Super Bowl victory. They don’t make banners for AFC semifinalist.
All of this to say that is going to be the year the Bills win the Super Bowl, I’m sure of it.
A few years back I started going home once a year for a Bills game. During this same period I also lost the last remaining immediate family members I had in Buffalo. I’m not sure when/if I’ll get back home again or to a Bills game in Western New York.
Ultimately I know the Bills will get my hopes up only to be dashed in some way, occasionally soul crushing, never surprising. I know they’ll fall short. I hope they don’t. But they always do. That’s why they suck. That hope is also what reminds me of home, of growing up in the rust belt, watching the Bills with my friends and family. I may not make it back home for a long time (or ever at this point). But when the temperature is just right in the fall, the air has a certain smell, and I’m watching a game with friends and family that the Bills will ultimately lose, I will also smile because it will take me back to a time, place and life that I’ll never be able to get back to. But I’ll have my kids, wife and friends to laugh with and hope they do better next week.
Also, fuck JP Losman.
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