Back in August there was a day that everyone was told Michael Vick was going to be a Buffalo Bill. Twitter was blowing up, Chris was posting about it everywhere and in the end everyone had an opinion about it.
What it came down to was a lot of speculation, some truth to a rumor, and a lot of overreaction. In the end there wasn’t much to talk about: Vick signed with Philly, the news cycle ended and everyone moved on.
Except, of course, Tony Dungy. Since retiring as an NFL head coach, Dungy has made it his business to be in the Michael Vick business. He is the reliable source for information about Michael Vick, and since he works for NBC he has become an NFL analyst with reliable information about Michael Vick.
And so, when this happens you really can’t help but give it a bit of clout:
“I told Michael to just worry about this year,” Dungy said. “It’s technically up to Philadelphia. If they want him back, he has to stay there. If they don’t, there are some teams looking for quarterbacks: Cleveland, St. Louis and Washington.
“But I think a dark horse is Buffalo. They talked originally. There was some communication there. I think that could be a good spot.”
If anything, Dungy’s statements only confirm that there was a bit of truth to what happened last August, no matter how small that truth is. We will never know how close anyone got to signing anything, and my guess is still that it was “communication” and nothing more. However, the Bills’ statement of “no interest” sounds like a lie and is at best hearsay.
Now it’s far too early to speculate about what will happen to the Philadelphia Eagles’ third string quarterback in the offseason. The Bills are a bad football team, but they are not bad enough to worry about these things just yet. They are bad, but they aren’t that bad. We’ll save the rumormongering for the close personal aid of Mike Vick that also happens to get a paycheck from GE. Seems ethical enough.
Still what strikes me about all this is that it isn’t completely crazy anymore. As we’ve seen from the Bills this year, they are much more about flash and a lot less about on field performance these days. Even Tim Graham noted that in his post:
The move would work for the Bills. They have been more about big splashes than building a winner lately and could be in the market for a starting quarterback.
It may be a throwaway line in a Sunday night post about Mike Vick, but how true is that statement? What has made it so difficult for me to write about the Bills is that the effort to win seems comical. Not from the players on the field, but from the front office and coaching position for sure.
No one will deny that Dick Jauron coaching this team is a joke. His contract extension may go down as one of the stupidest front office decisions in Buffalo Bills history. The situation is so hopeless no one seems to be able to muster the appropriate shock and outrage necessary every week to demand a coach be fired. Morale is low, and it’s not going to get any better until January.
But everything we’ve seen from the Bills this year has shown it doesn’t matter. Despite trading away their Pro Bowl left tackle, they signed Terrell Owens. Everyone gets excited, the home games sell out. Sell some jerseys, cut the check and move on. There is no hope for this team whatsoever, but the Bills made their money.
The more we watch this team, the more apparent the importance of money becomes. The Bills are not built to win, they are built to make money. Bring in a big name, sell the fans on hope, try to float a mediocre team in a league chock full or parody.
When Owens signed with the Bills, the move was shocking for a few reasons. First of all, the Bills never seem to make a big splash. It looked like a risk, a change in philosophy that might be good for them. Sure some fans got overexcited and expected the playoffs, but at the very least the move looked like the Bills were serious about winning. Unorthodox, maybe, but different nonetheless.
Halfway through the 2009 season, the signing looks like nothing more than a desperate PR move. Owens has struggled, the Bills don’t have a quarterback to get him the ball or an offensive line to offer enough time to do so, and the offense is constant, chaotic failure.
But no matter how it ends up on the field, the Terrell Owens Experiment will be a success for the Bills: they made their money. Owens will finish out his Boy Scout campaign with nary a foul word, find some other team to schlep on for another season, and then bash the Bills for everything that happened this year. It’s coming, and it looks completely justified to me.
The only question is if the Bills think they can pull it off again. I have no idea if they take the chance on Vick. I have no idea if Bills fans will embrace Vick like they initially did Owens. The only thing I do know is what I’ve learned about the Bills over the past few seasons: if it makes money, they will do it.
There is nothing wrong with a football franchise that wants to make money, but right now that goal has clear priority over winning. Sad, but true. If Dungy’s long-lost son can take Russ Brandon to the bank next year, there’s no doubt in my mind he pulls the trigger.
Sad, but true.