I have mixed feelings about one of our tags. In some ways it is exactly why we started this blog in the first place, yet what we criticize is absolutely essential to what we do here as well. There are times the media is unbearable, yet without it blogging becomes quite impossible.
The term “media” is just as formless and nondescript as the word “blog” or “fan”. What the “media” is depends on what adverb is attached to it, and often that phrase determines my thoughts on the matter. All four of us have used the “Why I Hate the Media” tag in the 2+ years we’ve had the blog, but we’ve each had different reasons for using it.
To be completely honest, I don’t hate the “local” media. I think the majority of those working in Western New York have a good feel for the fans in this area and their obligations when it comes to reporting. We happen to have quite a few quality writers around here whether people like to admit it or not. Put it this way: with one notable exception it’s very rare that we’re outright offended by someone locally.
However, on a national scale is where there are bigger problems. Not only does it seem like the national media outlets have lost track of what real sports fans want, but they especially struggle with places like Buffalo. I’ve written about these things before, but national media writers and the media as a whole simply can’t understand a place like Buffalo.
We are going to see a ton of Bills coverage this season, and I’ve tried to brace myself for all the misinformation and stupidity on the horizon. Buffalo is going to be portrayed as the hopeful town waiting for a Super Bowl title to be delivered by a one-year contract with a reality show. It’s a bunch of garbage and I don’t know anyone with such delusions, but oh look it’s Gene Wojciechowski:
Nothing changes with Owens, except his age (older) and his receiving stats (worse). I even can tell you almost exactly how it will play out in Buffalo this season.
Right now, we’re in the Niagara Falls Honeymoon Phase. That means love is everywhere as the 35-year-old Owens reports Monday for the start of the Bills’ organized team activities. But remember, this is the part of the relationship when the new team and its fans develop T.O. amnesia. They simply forget what he’s done in the past.
Instead, desperate Bills fans will convince themselves that Owens’ arrival means management is serious about winning, that Owens and Lee Evans will transform a passing “attack” that accounted for just 14 touchdowns a season ago (only five other teams had fewer touchdown passes), and that opposing defenses won’t be able to load the box against running back Marshawn Lynch. (That is, when Lynch returns from his NFL-imposed suspension.) And if it were Anquan Boldin instead of Owens in a Bills uniform, I’d agree.
Now that’s an adorable use of local landmarks and prognostication, but that block quote can go to hell. Does any Bills fan really forget the baggage Terrell Owens carries with him? Is any Bills fan loving Owens all over the place yesterday? Everyone knows the media circus that will follow Owens, even at OTAs; but has the city itself unfolded its arms and cradled #81 like a newborn being rocked to sleep?
Once again I’m baffled. Are we really seen nationally as that stupid? Bills fans are “desperate” for sure, but that’s what happens when you miss the playoffs for almost a decade. Does any rational Bills fan really think Owens has changed at all? That T.O. will finish his career with the Bills? Super Bowls and victory parades?
Hell no. We know what’s at stake here, and we know that things can end very, very badly. There are no illusions of grandeur here, just a flier on a 35-year-old wide receiver who might destroy us all. The most rational thing I’ve heard is that if Owens explodes, we crash and burn with a decent draft pick. That sounds a lot better than another 7-9 at this point. That’s reality.
Still, I can’t get over stories like this. These poor, stupid Bills fans with their salt of the earth work ethic. We have no idea what lurks behind the T.O. show; what untold damage it will do. We’re not going to be abused, dismantled, and left behind. We’re not fools here; we know better.
And yet there we are, letting VH1 organize what they want Buffalo to look like and giving away keys to the city in front of apparently nameless art galleries. Organized crowds and publicity appearances all around on Owens’ first day in Buffalo, and loving headlines splashed across the 6pm news and ESPN alike.
Sometimes I wonder if they are right after all.