The Off-White Glow

by Ryan

With the Bills sudden acquisition of Terrell Owens, Buffalo has been on the mind of every sports fan, if only for a moment. Of course, it’s been a very long time since that has been the case. Many fans hope that this sudden focus of attention can be an opportunity to change the national opinion of the city and the area. Most residents are tired of the same old same old that is discussed by outsiders, and it is important we utilize this attention to sculpt how others see our hometown.

Yeah, like that’s going to happen. With the T.O. signing there have been two major discussion points in the national media. They are as follow:

1) Terrel Owens is a bad fit for a small town like Buffalo.

2) Will the Bills make the playoffs with Owens?

That’s been about it, with the exception of this beauty, which wonders if the offseason moves will push the Bills to a Super Bowl appearance. Somehow I’m thinking no. Either way, there’s not much variety with the columns we’ve seen thus far.

We’ve already talked about the magic that is Hat Guy, and some have lamented all the stupid, misguided columns we’re going to see this season because of Owens. Now while the petty blogger in me is excited for all the columns Rich will get to tear apart for us, the fan in me does get upset about all the stupidity that some will fall for.

But that’s the problem with national columnists: they don’t understand us. They can call Buffalo “hard working” and “blue collar” all they want, but they don’t understand anything outside of those cliches because they’ve never been here and don’t know what it’s really like. That’s why people around here get so upset when we make “Most Depressing Cities” lists and said lists make national news. Miami may be on a list like that, too; but it’s not the city people remember for something like that.

Chris and I were talking about this yesterday and he made a great point. He said that very few national guys get us because they aren’t fans like us. He cited what Will Leitch had to say about the Owens deal on Deadspin. Here’s what Will had to say:

Because of The Lady, I make a yearly trip to a Buffalo Bills game, and I have to say: I’m looking for it more now than I could have anticipated. Think about it: Is there any team in organized football that Terrell Owens could have signed with that you would have preferred more than Buffalo? I hate Terrell Owens, and I was excited to see him go here. Buffalo desperately, profoundly needs something to get excited about, and Terrell Owens is just the prescription. If he’s great, Buffalo has an identity again, something to rally around, someone for everyone to talk about and get angry at. If he’s terrible, Buffalo will be unified, and overpowering, in its malevolence. Buffalo hasn’t been relevant enough to cheer against lately, to have gravitas, to put some meat on its bones. Terrell Owens provides them that. I still hope he somehow hurts himself. But if he were going to redeem himself anywhere, it would have to be here. Admit it: If Terrell Owens can bring a Super Bowl title to Buffalo — which of course he isn’t going to do, but still … if — you’d re-evaluate him a little bit, wouldn’t you? I would.

You may not agree with all of what he says, but I think that’s as close to what any of us in the Buffalo Blogosphere have had to say about the signing. Chris said that’s because Leitch is a fan, too; and I tend to agree with that. He may not always say great things about Buffalo, but he has at least visited the place enough to gauge how people would react to Owens without doing a phone survey first.

The point is, over the next year there are going to be a lot of people writing about Buffalo that have no idea what they’re talking about. We will know better and will get upset at times, but there’s not much we can really do about it. The national spotlight has its advantages, but a major disadvantage is that a lot of people think they know a lot of things they don’t. Personally, I welcome the change and hope people get a chance to learn more about a place that rarely sees the big stage.

It will be fun to see who gets it right over the next year or so. We’ll be here to clean up the ones that miss.


  1. dave in Rocha

    Interesting analysis, and I know I often find that I tell myself that these national pundits/rankings/columnists haven’t spent enough time here to “get” us.

    Then I wonder, what other places are inaccurately portrayed by these sorts of things? Can we really trust any of OUR impressions of places we haven’t spent much time? More than likely those impressions were shaped by the very columns and rankings that we rush to disown when they’re about us… should we discount them altogether?

    Just something to keep your mind busy until puckdrop.

  2. Ryan

    That’s a really good point and I’m glad you brought it up. I think one of the great things about the rise of blogs is that the national columnist has someone to answer to when they talk about a particular region. I can go to an Eagles blog or Maple Leafs blog and get a feel for what people that really experience these things are saying. There are better examples than others, but what it gives us is another angle to look at something from.

    You’re right, a lot of what we think does come from what they say and that’s cause for concern, but I think it’s our job to either confirm those stereotypes or figure out what’s real and what isn’t.

    The difference between an informed fan and one who thinks the same as everyone else is how hard we try to confirm what we hear, you know?