Jock Washing and the Anti-Buffalo Bias

by Ryan

Being a Buffalo sports blog, we are pretty big homers when it comes to all things Buffalo. However, even we’re not sure what this is all about. Media Matters took offense to a Bill Simmons line from a mailbag a few weeks back. Here’s the entry:

There is one silver lining to Buffalo’s Cinderella season slowly falling apart to the point that the Bills now might miss the playoffs. I am not allowed to mention it, but if you rack your brains, you will figure it out. Think about the insufferable way that Oprah attached herself to Obama, and you will be getting warm.

Anyone want to fill me in on this one? What media figure has been propping up the Bills this year? Chris Berman has certainly said nice things, and he even donned a Buffalo hat at one point. But Obama won, and Oprah was happy, whereas the Bills are losing …

I’ll assume for now that this is a dig at Simmons’ ESPN colleague, Berman, which is only further proof of anti-Bills bias at that network. It has hired two former members of the 1990s Dallas Cowboys, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith, both of which openly root for their old team on the air; Smith even served as spokesperson for his old team when a (very) critical book was written. Such criticism is especially ironic coming from Simmons, one of the biggest jock-washers for the New England Patriots in the mainstream sports media. But profess fanship for the Bills? Tsk tsk, how insufferable…

First of all I’m not so sure the assumption is correct. Many people took that as a dig at ESPN for nixing his Obama podcast a few months back, as well as his picks column the week before. He’s the first person I’ve seen to directly claim it a crack at Berman, but if that’s the case I suppose I’m wrong.

Here’s the thing about Berman: even if he is a Bills fan he’s really annoying. The nicknames, the tired routine; it was cute when I was seven, but now I’d like to hear something… different. Even so, a personal opinion about Berman doesn’t imply an “anti-Bills bias” at ESPN. In fact, I think that’s the furthest thing from the truth.

What ESPN has when it comes to the Bills is not a bias, but rather sheer indifference. When you think about it, what reason does ESPN have to rally against the Bills? The fact of the matter is that a small-market football team doesn’t make the headlines the “majority” of America wants to see. Only WNY and some expatriates want to know about the Bills, unlike the huge followings of Dallas, Washington, and New England.

Also, what have the Bills done in the past ten years to warrant any special coverage? A long playoff drought, shortage of superstars, and a whole mess of other reasons have conspired to push the Bills off the front page in the sporting world, not some hyper-conspiracy against them. Norby doesn’t hate the Bills, he just doesn’t give a crap about them. Simple as that.

The interesting thing about these claims of bias is his mention of Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith, two former Cowboys who currently have jobs with The Four Letter. He must have short-term memory because it wasn’t long ago ESPN had both Jim Kelly and Marv Levy under its collective wing. Times change, and so does the overload of players from a specific team.

He did get one thing right, though: Simmons can be a huge jock-washer at times. Still, call me when he get three rings things right…

One Comment

  1. Slacker867

    I’m hopeful that Barry Melrose will return to the ESPN podcast now that he has some additional free time.