Part two: Continued from Part one of What it's Like to be a Buffalo Sports Fan.
After the Kelly era wound down, the last fifteen years have been a turnstile of coaches – Gregg Williams for three years, Mike Mularkey for two, the pulseless Jauron for four years, ancient Chan Gailey for three and Doug Marrone for two. Now the Bills have the bombastic savior Rex Ryan.
The search for a quarterback has delivered an even more absurd hodgepodge of names: CFL hero Doug Flutie, the portly Alex Van Pelt, the worst years of Drew Bledsoe, idiot JP Losman, Trent ‘Checkdown’ Edwards, journeyman Kyle Orton, Bran Brohm (who?) and the bearded Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw some great balls – directly into the hands of the other teams when the games were on the line. The big name Bills are long gone.
So many terrible games
Over the record-breaking playoff drought, the Bills have essentially lost two games for every game they have won. A 2008 loss to the Browns on Monday Night Football was just another acupuncture pin to the neck. Another 47-yard field goal sailed widerRight in that one. That loss only paralleled the previous year’s Monday Night disaster in Dallas, where the Cowboys overcame six turnovers and kicked a game-winning 53-yard field goal as time expired. Or does the 2009 season opening last minute loss to the Patriots trump both of those? Too many games with too many last minute misfortunes. And too many games being blown out by New England. A handful of 6-10 seasons later, and we remain as deflated as Brady’s balls.
Billboard calls for coach to be sacked?
You know things are bad in Buffalo when websites pop up that call for the firing of their front office staff, and enough money is raised to rent out a billboard, posted along a major route into the city, that demands the jobs of the coaches. Yes, that too happened in 2009, when some dude raised $1,400 to purchase a week's worth of time on a digital billboard, demanding the ouster of the then Bills coach Dick Jauron. Dicky was dumped that November.
But we are a resilient bunch, and we have our hometown hockey heroes to liberate us out of the doldrums of disparity. Unfortunately, our Buffalo Sabres have followed suit too often, thrilling us with electrifying moments, only to drop us back to the earth at terminal velocity.
Sabres to the rescue?
After failing for nine years to get out of the first round of the playoffs, the 1993 Sabres blew out the Bruins with the infamous May Day goal. Brad May gave his stick a prophetic kiss and then proceeded to make Ray Bourque look like he was in a Chinese fire-drill. The Sabres swept the Bruins out of the first round, only to find themselves swept by the Canadiens in the Division Finals. The Sabres’ teams that followed slowly got deeper and deeper into the playoffs however, until they found themselves playing for Lord Stanley’s Cup in 1999 against the Dallas Stars.
Whether or not the Sabres would have captured the cup that year is difficult to say. Odds are that the Dallas squad, packed to the rafters in big names, would have taken game seven. But No Goal left that "what-if" feeling burned in our sides, one that lingers on Western NY bumper stickers to this day. The legality of that goal, with Brett Hull’s foot planted firmly in the blue paint as he shot in the game winner over a sprawled Dominik Hasek, has been debated ever since, and the skate in the crease rule, a perplexing regulation, was quickly changed shortly thereafter.