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Why The Bills Playing In Toronto Stinks
December 5, 2008 - John Whittaker
This weekend, the Miami Dolphins will make their annual trip to cold, snowy …. Toronto?
That's right, Bills fans.
Your most heated rivalry is being played three hours from Buffalo, before what could turn out to be a country club crowd in a city that likely doesn't understand how big Bills-Dolphins games used to be.
So, Bills fans, even though we've had our ups and downs, I feel sorry for you. A team that isn't eliminated from the playoff race (they're hanging by a very, very, very slim thread) has to play a key home game with a division rival on the road because the NFL thinks it's a way for the team to grow more revenue streams.
Think about this one. If you're a Bills fan and have a ticket, here's what you have to do to attend your "home" game: hop in your car, sit for at least an hour and a half in customs to enter Canada, drive another 90 minutes or so to Toronto, navigate your way around a city you probably don't know too well, get drilled on the Canadian exchange rate if you want to buy anything, watch the game, then drive home ä with another hour wait to get through customs.
Sounds fun, doesn't it?
Ralph Wilson Stadium is sold out for almost every game - especially when the team puts a decent team on the field. The parking lots outside the stadium are full of Bills fans six hours before a game. You see Bills gear throughout three counties in Western New York. It's often been said pizza sales in Jamestown are affected by how good the Bills are.
I guess my point is, isn't this all a sign that instead of growing revenue streams, maybe the NFL should be concentrating on finding ways to lower costs so it's more affordable for teams to remain in existence and for fans to go to games? Yeah, the NFL has a salary cap. But, when the average NFL team is worth more than $1 billion, yeah, with billion with a B, while the average player salary, in 2006, was $1.4 million. Yeah, some guys make less, but that means a lot of guys make more.
Here are a few interesting questions that are running through my mind:
Q. Why is it an offensive lineman needs to have a salary that rivals the Gross National Product of Bolivia?
A. Take Jason Peters, for example. He wanted a contract paying him between $8 and $11.5 million a season. He's, at best, a middle of the road offensive lineman. Why does this guy need to not only be a millionaire, but be a millionaire by the second game check of his season? If they remade the musical Annie right now, Daddy Warbucks would be a professional athlete because, because the best way to get rich is to be a good athlete. I wonder what Telly Savalas' 40-yard dash time was?
Q. Why are ticket prices for a Bills game so high?
A. Because the team has to pay Jason Peters half of the Jamestown Public School District's yearly budget to be a mediocre offensive lineman (and yes, I'm using Jason Peters, who complained all summer about how he was UNDERPAID, as an example). The News Gal and I had tickets given to us a few weeks ago with a face value of $130 a ticket. In this economy, who can afford that? That's a third of what I'll spend on my family for Christmas this year, and the NFL expects that Western New Yorkers can pony up that much to attend a football game? I know Roger Goodell has ties to the area, but I don't think he spent quite enough time living here.
Q. Why are loyal Bills fans being denied their chance to see the Bills play the Dolphins in a rivalry that dates back to the glory days of Bills football?
A. Because the inherent greed in the system is making the monster eat itself. Eventually, there will be no new revenue streams available. Fans will stop coming because they can't afford to. Teams won't have anywhere to move to, or threaten to move to, because they'll have extended to every city that could sustain a team and found the team becoming insolvent.
Eventually, all pro sports leagues (I'm not just picking on Buffalo, because fans in that city are knowledgable about their sports, turn out if there's a decent product on the field and spread like a weed) need to take a hard look at themselves. What's so wrong with following the Packers model - having the team owned by a public trust and board of directors. Fans know their team is staying put - you'll never hear the Packers leaving Green Bay to play a game in Canada. The town is invested in their team. There's a trust between the people running the club and the fans. Buffalo has the same things, except for the legal documents.
Bills fans are just as rabidly supportive of their team as Packers fans - but the ownership situation is murky. Ralph Wilson is 173 years old, nobody in his family wants to run the team, and despite Jim Kelly's best efforts, I doubt the NFL will allow him to buy the team. The "Former Star Player Buys Team And Runs It Into Ground" ship sailed with Mario Lemiux and the Penguins about four years ago. It's not a far stretch to see NFL football moving across the border into Canada, and Bills fans left watching on TV as the moving vans pull away.
There are no professional sports without the fans, yet it's the fans who are getting the shaft while the suits in charge of the game look for more and more and more ways to make money rather than finding ways to take care of their most prized assets - the fans who pay for the whole thing.
Doesn't that make more sense than making a team play the game its fans look forward to more than any other game on the schedule three hours away from them. I'll stop with this thought.
There is a finite pool of money in our country. There is a finite pile of wealth, and we're wasting far too much of it on leisure activities. Sports are multi-million dollar industries now while we, as a society, wonder how we can adequately pay for street plowing, police and fire protection, health care and retirement. Try telling three million could-soon-be-out-of-work auto workers that a mediocre left tackle making $3.25 million this season is underpaid. Try telling a reporter whose newspaper just closed down that Andy Pettitte should snub the Yankees because they offered him $10 million for next season rather than $16 million. Try telling a mother who can't buy her children all the Christmas presents they want that the kid's favorite team, the Bills, who made $18.9 million in revenue in 2007, might be moving to Toronto because they don't make enough money.
My head hurts.
On to the games:
Alabama vs. Florida, SEC Title Game: I normally don't worry about college games that much, but this game intrigues me. I'd like to see a college playoff (because the schools that acutally worry about academics have a playoff system to decide their champions), and Florida winning this game would be cosmic karma telling the BCS officials to COME UP WITH A PLAYOFF. I think the stars send them a clear sign when Florida whups 'Bama on Saturday. Alabama reminds me a lot of the Patriots ä they do things the right way, find ways to win games and don't beat themselves. I'm not sure if that formula holds up against Florida, especially if Percy Harvin plays.
Washington at Baltimore: Since I've given up hope of the Patriots winning the AFC East, this pick may be a bit biased. But, I like the Redskins to take out Baltimore and bring the Patriots into a tie for the final Wild Card playoff spot. This is the sort of game I can see the Ravens not taking seriously enough - two easy games leading into it and then Pittsburgh next week. I smell trap game (smells like chicken). Besides, Joe A-Flacco can't play like a 6-year veteran all year.
Jacksonville at Chicago: Poop Alert! Poop Alert! Chicago wins this game, but it will be ugly and smelly. Jacksonville is tied with San Diego for "Most Disappointing Team and Most Gamblers Ticked Off"' honors for this season, and Chicago's offense is just a tick better than putrid. Putrid's good enough to win this weekend, though.
Minnesota at Detroit: Fran Tarkenton could start this game at quarterback for the Vikings and it wouldn't matter (I mean, Fran is, what, 77 years old?). Adrian Peterson's due for a 200-yard game, and here the Lions are on the schedule this week. Coincidence? I think not.
Teska's Take: Minnesota: And the streak continues! (I just high-fived soemone).
Houston at Green Bay: By rights, Green Bay should win this game. Passable offense vs. a so-so defense. The frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Cheeseheads. But, I think I like Houston, even in a short week on the road with Sage Rosenfels at quarterback. It just feels right.
Teddy's Take: Houston: Welcome back, Matt Schaub and Green Bay truly does miss Brett Farve.
Teska's Take: Green Bay: Why are people NOT blaming Aaron Rodgers for the Packers quasi-mediocre season? I'm not saying its all his fault, but they've been terrible. However, at home they're a little better and Andre Johnson can't pass the ball to himself and line up in the backfield.
Cincinnati at Indianapolis: Insert your own Chad Johnson Cinco/Bengals suck joke here. I'm taking the Colts.
Atlanta at New Orleans: New Orleans is due for a "They Pull You Back In' game this week - they looked shaky last weekend and Sean Payton will have something special in store for Atlanta's defense. I smell a shootout (smells like perfectly cooked steak) and a New Orleans win.
Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants: I'm having a hard time picking against the Giants right now - they're the best team in the league. But, at some point, they have to lose, don't they? Can Donovan McNabb beat a team that isn't the Cardinals' defense? The Fat Penguin says … YES!
Teddy's Take: Philadelphia: Too many distractions in New York. Plus Tampa needs home field so we have to pick against the G-MEN
Cleveland at Tennessee: There may be chinks in the Titans' armor, but Ken Dorsey isn't the guy to exploit them. I hope Romeo Crennel has his resume updated.
Miami vs. Buffalo at Toronto: How, with your playoff life on the line, do you come out flat and with a horrible game plan for the 49ers last weekend. That was a horrible game plan and probably one of the worst pre-game speeches ever. Here's a tip for Dick Jauron and the rest of the Bills coaching staff -- doing your best Ben Stein impersonation during the pre-game talk isn't a good way to fire your team up. Showing your players their stock portfolio is a bad idea, too. Pulling your pants down is a great idea to get a team ready for a game. Hiring strippers probably is, too. The Bills didn't make Mike Singletary flip out once. Not one time. That one lies with the coaching staff. Dick Jauron has come under fire, and deservedly so, but I think I like his Toronto/Buffalo Argo-Bills to win this weekend.
Teddy's Take: Buffalo Won't win another game this year!!!!!!!!!!
Kansas City at Denver: "YOU PLAY TO KEEP THE GAME CLOSE!' That a boy, Herm. You're doing great. I like Denver to win by about 20 points. If Herm thinks he's coaching a college team, I wonder what his players feel like playing for a high school coach, especially when they see the ultra-prepared and professional Mike Shanahan across the sideline.
Teska's Take: Denver: In my Madden 2009 franchise, cutler threw three picks this morning before being benched in favor of Brock Berlin (6 TDs 400 yards). Let's hope that performance wasn't a preview of this weekend's game. If so, Berlin should get picked up by the Lions.
N.Y. Jets at San Francisco: Do the 49ers have enough in them to beat two AFC East teams in a row? Will Mike Singletary's pants stay on for his entire halftime speech? What is that tattoo of the Mona Lisa doing on Singletary's butt? Does the Mangenius have what it takes to stay awake in the fourth quarter? Will Brett Favre take his pre-game dump? And, did he eat his Wheaties? All these questions and more will be answered Sunday, on Fox. Would I go through that elaborate a joke if I didn't think the Jets are blowing out the 49ers to make up for that runny fart they laid last week against Denver? I like the Jets. Moving on...
St. Louis at Arizona: Kurt Warner gets back on his MVP track - and this game gets over by 5 p.m. at the latest in another case study for an NFL mercy rule. Not for the teams, but for the fans. Who wants to watch the Rams, down by 28 points in the first quarter, stumble around for another three hours? It's like be like watching two fat guys, drunk, trying to ice skate while text messaging? Wait, I'd pay to see that. I won't pay to see this game.
Teddy's Take: I hope Warner has a bad day 6-3 win here would be good. Fantasy football is more important.
Dallas at Pittsburgh: Hard Knocks ended before the first week of games, but I still have a hard time picking against the Cowboys. For some strange reason, and I can't explain what it is, I see Dallas coming in and upsetting Pittsburgh, with or without Marion Barber. I think Tony Romo gets it done, somehow. And, since the Steelers singlehandedly killed my fantasy team this year, I think that makes us even.
Teska's Take: Dallas: I am REALLY sick of the Steelers winning. Sure, last week I was okay with it, but it has to stop like right now. Romo should dominate like the Manning family already has. (Cooper is putting the moves on Tomlin's sister).
New England at Seattle: My God, the NFC West is terrible. On the plus side, if Washington holds up their end of the bargain, the Patriots will be tied for the final playoff spot with three weeks to play. I don't see Seattle hanging with the Patriots. On a related note, have you ever seen a"great' wide receiver with more inconsistent hands as Randy Moss? Jerry Rice never would have dropped that touchdown pass in the end zone or the 40 yarder in the first half that Moss flubbed on Sunday against the Steelers. You're still my boy, Randy, but those drops really killed the Pats on Sunday. Great receivers make those plays. Apparently, they didn't teach you to catch at Rand-U. Do you need more money to come up with a "key" catch? Is there something we're missing? More weed? A private sit-down with Snoop Dogg? What will it take for you to start catching balls? Did we trade for Braylon Edwards without anyone knowing? Do you need a PhD from Rand-U to catch a ball that hits you in the hands? Are you actually Captain Hook? These are questions to which I think Pats fans deserve answers.
Tampa Bay at Carolina: Wonder where Teddy will be on Monday night? I know Carolina is 9-4 and played great in the second half against Green Bay last week, but I think Tampa Bay's defense is a stiffer test for the Panthers, I'm not sure if Jake Delhomme can play well two weeks in a row, and I think I like Jon Gruden in a must-win game over John Fox. I smell a defensive battle brewing (smells like burned popcorn), and Tampa Bay coming out on top. Merry Christmas, Teddy!
Teddy's Take: I step closer to a home game for the Super Bowl!!!!!
Everybody can dream, my friend.
Fat Guy Trophy UpdateThings are really, really tight at the top of the Fat Guy Trophy standings. Coming into the week, Dennis holds a 1 game lead over Teddy and a 3 game lead over Sir Cumference. The Whitless Wonder is 7 games back and hoping for a miracle to win his own trophy. Why did I pick Syracuse and New England last weekend when I knew Syracuse was going to get killed and wasn't exactly sure about the Pats? What was i thinking taking Jacksonville, who I know is mailing this season in? Damn it.
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