So it’s the Bills turn to change uniforms again. By this town’s standards they were long overdue for this. I mean, it’s been since 2002. The Sabres (2006, 2008, 2010) and Bisons (every year, maybe some years twice, I don’t know, I can’t keep up) keep a pretty fast pace. In Buffalo, our sports teams like the quick buck. Just what they do with the money is another story.
The Bills’ stern don’t-call-us-about-this-we’ll-call-you-when-we’re-ready-thanks press release about the uniform change did reveal one bit of information: the new uniforms will pay homage to the team’s older outfits in some way. Good, right? Because in Buffalo the only way to look is backward.
I don’t know this but I assume anyone at the Bills proposing any kind of new look for the team was laughed out of the meeting. We’ve learned from the Bills’ last change in ’02 and more profoundly by the Sabres’ “slug” logo jersey in ’06 that anything new is bad. “Can you please just look like you did when Gilbert Perreault and Jim Kelly played here?” These are the wishes of the fans. (I think so anyway. Ridicule surely has awaited any dissenting voice.)
In ’06, the Sabres thought they’d come up with a look that agreed with the fans’ desires, switching to the team’s original color scheme while daring to create a new logo. Whoops. Turns out anyone at the Sabres with any particular talents in creativity should just stay home. It’s the past we want. Nothing else will do.
I think this unwavering attitude to make things like they used to be around here is a problem. The vision should be forward, not backward. Life is for looking through the windshield, not the rear-view mirror. Buffalo hangs onto a bygone era hoping it will magically reappear. And in the meantime, necessary changes to the landscape go unattended.
Would it really have been so offensive if the Bills had decided to change everything? We’re talking about one of the losingest franchises in pro sports. No playoff appearances in 11 seasons. No titles. A name synonymous throughout sports with getting to the big game year after year and coming up short. They’re the team O.J. Simpson played for. One good run (great even) in 40-plus years that with each passing non-playoff season looks more and more like a fluke.
I’m serious. What if the Bills instead of just tweaking their look (again), threw it out and started over? The name too. Whenever their next game came around they’d look like an expansion team, and I don’t mean in terms of their play. (Again, the idea is that they’d be different.) Even their stadium is a relic.
Of course, all this would go over about as well as the C.J. Spiller pick. Heck, any effort to change the “Shout!” song played after scores has had about as much chance of success as would a bill to lower Congressmen’s salaries. Change sounds to us like someone banging on piano keys. Terry Pegula, buying the Sabres, knock yourself out. Just don’t change our coach please. After all, in these long 14 seasons we did make the finals once.
If you think about this, how looking back is so much more comfortable for us than looking forward, the number of ways it’s evidenced are plentiful. A recent example from our show: For every fan who talked about the Bills’ chances of making the Super Bowl again there might have been five or 10 who wanted to rehash their Super Bowl XXV loss from 20 years ago.
I respect the traditions of Buffalo sports. I am not someone who thinks everything that’s ever happened here was a disappointment. The men who provided us with some great memories through the years deserve our respect, and some of these men have become friends of mine. Many of these people were childhood heroes of mine. I don’t wish to erase their contributions from our minds.
Rather, I want to represent for change. Our sports teams play a prominent role in shaping the psyche of our community. Should they be leaders or followers?
Having said all this, I’ll humbly step aside and let the debate continue between what helmets we want the Bills to start wearing again, those from the 1960s or 1980s. See you at the Executive.