So the Super Bowl is over, and, wouldn't you know it, a team that's won it three times before took home the trophy. This of course would have been true had either the Giants or Patriots won the game. For all the credit the NFL gets for parity, when it comes to the Super Bowl the same teams always win.
That also means we had two quarterbacks with a combined five Super Bowl appearances and four wins facing off. In the end, Eli Manning, a former No. 1 overall draft pick captured his second title and also second Super Bowl MVP trophy. And fellow two-time MVP Tom Brady, the most famous and accomplished exception to the draft rule in football history, sees his record in the big one drop to 3-2. No quarterback in history has ever started more Super Bowls than Brady's five.
Manning and Brady. Last year Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger, two first-round picks. Before than Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. Seems to me Job 1 for the Bills in any effort toward joining the NFL's elite would be finding a great quarterback.
Is there even a Job 2?
I want to make two statements that each may look crazy. Neither falls under the category "conventional wisdom". And yes, that makes me like them more.
1. Draft at least three quarterbacks every year until you find a star. Every time I think about this I like it more.
We know that drafting a great QB is an inexact science. Yes, the majority of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks were first-round draft picks. But not all of them were. You know Brady's deal, and for that matter how about three-time Super Bowl starter Kurt Warner? They're not all blue chips. In all seriousness, why wouldn't a team lost in the desert like the Bills pick three quarterbacks and try them out, hoping to hit big?
Instead, we know they'll spend their mid-round picks on middling lineman and defensive back talent. I can't tell you that these players have no chance of being stars, because that would crack my QB argument. But what I can tell you is that in the best-case scenario, that they do make it big, they will not have the same impact on wins and losses that a quarterback of the same caliber would. QBs are simply much more important. I think this point was rock-solid many years ago, and the game is shifting more toward passing every year.
So you draft three quarterbacks and feed them your playbook. Come May, you line them up next to each other and your incumbents and let the tryouts begin. You don't think anybody's ready to step in and win for you, then hold them back and go there when the time is right. If you don't think any of them can play at all, cut them and repeat this drill in 2013. Heck, the Bills have dumped their entire 2007 draft already.
Maybe if you draft three QBs you'll discover two gems. I would not consider this a problem.
For all the grunt workers that bounce around this league on the waiver wire, one should think mid- to late-round picks used on quarterbacks is a chance worth taking.
Besides, who ever wins the lottery by buying just one ticket?
2. A star quarterback could save our city.
The Super Bowl was played in Indianapolis, a fine city. My daughter was born there in July and I liked my week there very much. It has hosted Final Fours and also a certain annual car race...
But the Super Bowl is on a different level. And you not only don't get the game without a new stadium, the new stadium all but assures that you get the game. The Colts have a new stadium because Peyton Manning showed up and turned a pathetic, irrelevant loser franchise into gold. There begot the stadium, and the Bowl.
Buffalo is a small market that's seen better days, but it is not the NFL's only such place. Ever wonder what the Green Bay Packers' existence might be had Brett Favre and then Aaron Rodgers not walked in the door? Before Favre, the Packers were farming out games to Milwaukee. (Sound familiar?) Now their stadium is not just a landmark -- it's been modernized. It's nice.
How about the Saints? When Katrina happened I thought the Saints would relocate. Their stadium became a shelter. But I'd argue that Katrina ended up helping the Saints. Drew Brees was ready for a challenge and adopted the city as his home. Players rallied around him, and the fans. They had a cause to play for. Inspiration is powerful, and lo and behold, the Saints won it all.
They did not draft Brees, but they did get him.
The NFL is a very different entity than it was when last the Bills were good. New stadiums abound, and they are palatial. They have malls next door. They are their own little cities and worlds. I'd predict that a resurgence by the Bills would have a different financial impact locally and regionally than it did 20 years ago. You never want to assume progress around here, but there's simply more money on the table than there used to be. And the more visibility underdog Buffalo could gather as a winning team, the more gain there would be for our area.
And you know what else? It's tougher to move a winner. There's more opposition and less indifference. Less call for rationalization -- "the NFL has passed Buffalo by", that sort of thing.
It all starts with a quarterback. Where it ends is a fantasy.