The BEAST - Buffalo's Best Fiend..............................................Issue 58 9/15/04--9/30/04

TEFLON TOM

If Donahoeís Embarrassed, What Are We?

By Ronnie Roscoe

A full house ushered in the Mike Mularkey era in Buffalo on Sunday, when the Bills hosted the Jacksonville Jaguars. The game was uneventful for the most part, but remained undecided until the final play, and when Byron Leftwichís prayer was answered, the Jaguars left town with a 13-10 victory.†

That final play was a microcosm of the four quarters; ugly, somewhat effective and competitive. It also appears to be a good indicator of what to expect 15 more times this yearóclose, competitive, sometimes effective, ugly football. The Bills will win a few and lose more than a few, but the team and the upper management are just giving the Bills fans what they want, right?

This game was a sellout, almost every other game is going to be a selloutóheck, preseason games have sold out. It would seem as long as there are 53 people dressed up in Bills uniforms the seats will be full. The state of affairs at One Bills Drive has never been better. Bills GM Tom Donahoe is second only to God in Ralph Wilsonís book, and he is gaining ground every day. Not even during the Kelly years did fans show up like they do now. Donahoe has the Sabres brass shaking their heads in amazement. How does he do it? The Sabres have been putting, an ugly, sometimes competitive, sometimes effective product on the ice for years now, they donít get that kind of fan reaction. In fact, they get ripped apart in the media and throughout the community for it.

It was about nine months ago when Donahoe fired (technically the Bills chose not to re-sign) former coach Gregg Williams, much to the pleasure of the fans of the team. Many would say it came too late; the media and most fans had been calling for Williamsí head for the better part of two years, but Donahoe stuck with him until the very end. When he let Williams go, he admitted that he had made a mistake in hiring Williams three years earlier, and claimed his next hire would be better. I need to remember thatójust admit you were wrong, and then itís okay to screw up your job.

But that was only half the story that day. He also made comments regarding the fans, the media, and all others in the area who seemed to take pleasure in questioning the strategy of the former coach and taking shots at the team. He actually said he was embarrassed to be a part of a community that acted that way, and that we should be ashamed. Maybe Donahoe doesnít understand that fan is short for fanatic. Once a few people in the PR department explained to Tommy boy that probably wasnít a good thing to say, he came out later in the day and held his own press conference to try to re-spin his comments. Crazy thing is, all was forgotten. Five months later tickets went on sale, and the show went on like nothing happened. The man is the Teflon Tom.

Well after the Billsí performance on Sunday, it is time to remember those comments. Mr. Donahoe, do you want to know what an embarrassment is? Itís that product on the field Sunday afternoon, not the community that stands behind it. When a GM is hired, there usually is a three or maybe even a five-year plan for success. This is the fourth year of the Donahoe regimeówhat kind of plan are the Bills on here, anyway?

I understand this is only the first game, and Buffalo could win the next 15 in a row, but time for a reality check: that is not going to happen. That wasnít Joe Montana, Tom Brady, or Peyton Manning going down the field the last two minutes that was the Jacksonville Jaguars, led by Byron Leftwich. Yeah, I know Leftwich was a first round pick, and I know some prognosticators are picking the Jags to challenge for a wild card this year, and maybe they will; who cares? That isnít the point. The Bills should be in the same boat, but unfortunately they are more likely to end up with last yearís abysmal 6-10 record than a chance at the playoffs. It should be viewed as unacceptable, but apparently, judging by tickets sales, itís okay with most Bills fans. After all, somebodyís got to suck, right?

The team does have some decent young talentóJP Lohsman, Lee Evans and Willis McGahee, to name a few, but that is two or three years away. I guess that puts the Bills and Donahoe on a seven-year plan. Iím not sure what I like less, the thought of four more years with G.W. Bush or Tom Donahoe.