Editor's Note: This article, composed by Joe P, was written in response to the article immediately following it, composed by yours truly. In it, Joe P expresses his opinions on the Buffalo Bills' potential future move to Toronto. It's worth a read. Nice job, Joe. End Note
"Greed" and "Invaders" seem like accurate descriptions from the Canadian point of view. I don’t blame Canadian writers for aggressively trying to defend their league. In fact, I applaud them. They see the writing on the wall. Sticking your head in the sand and hoping the NFL doesn’t kill the CFL doesn’t seem like a winning strategy to me. Appeasement of an aggressive invader has never worked throughout history, just ask the French. Canadian writers are not suffering from paranoia. They are trying to save the teams and the CFL that they love. I can relate. Supporters of this home games in Toronto idea have tried very hard to make us believe this is not a prelude to a permanent move by the Bills. Many of the arguments given to both CFL fans and Bills fans are a joke. Since I am not a fan of the CFL and know very little about the league, I will address my arguments as they pertain to the Bills.
To think that having Bills home games in Toronto is anything other than a test run by the NFL to see if it is feasible to have a team in Canada is impossible to believe. The idea that having a Bills game in Toronto will somehow sell more tickets at the Bills' other home games is naive at best. Canadians have their own football league in the CFL and can watch the NFL on TV, or travel to the US if they really want to go to an NFL game. A home game in Toronto is more apt to have a negative impact on the amount of Canadians that come to The Ralph to see a game. They will wait and go to the ones in Toronto. What to you think will happen when they get a taste for Bills football in Toronto? Do you think they will be satisfied with one game? I think not! They will ask for more Bills home games in Toronto. Even if the Bills don’t uproot and move to Toronto, how long before they want two home games a year, or three, or all?
To expect Bills fans that live in the greater Buffalo/Rochester area to be happy about it is absurd. Yes, we have lost a home game and all of the fun and economic stimulus that goes with it. But, it goes deeper than that. Let's say you and your wife/girlfriend of many years are having some problems. Would you be happy about her dating some guy who has said he wants to take her away from you?
Some Bills fans try to console themselves by saying "Toronto is close to Buffalo. It is better than if they move to L.A. or Portland.” How does the Toronto Bills (if they even keep Bills) beat the Portland Bills? I am a Buffalo Bills fan. I started watching games at the "Rock Pile" and have happily frozen my tail off at Rich and Ralph Wilson stadium. I am not alone. The Bills are more than a football team to the people of Western NY. The Bills are a part of the identity of our community. The players and coaches eat in the same restaurants as we do, and their kids go to the same schools as our kids. They are contributing members of our city. Without the Bills, would we have Hunter's Hope? How about all the other community events supported by the Bills? If we lose our team it will hurt us economically. But the real loss will be in ways that are hard to measure. How do you put a price on community pride and unity? How many of you can still sing the Bills "Shout song" and "Talkin' Proud"?
If the Bills move to Toronto, make no mistake, they will not be our Bills. The Bills will no longer be the team I grew up loving, nor a team that reflects the values I identify with. To me, they will represent everything that is wrong with the NFL and, to a certain extent, our society today. They will not be a "blue collar", underdog team of the common man. They will quickly morph into another big market team with a "Jerry Jones" clone of an owner. How could I possibly be a fan of that?! Tickets will cost over $200. Tell me how I can afford to take my family to a game... I will have to take out a loan.
How big is big enough for the NFL? This is the National (United States of America) Football League. It is not, and should not try to be the World League, NFL Europe, XFL, or the CFL. The NFL had better be careful not to forget the fans that have made them what they are. The day the Bills leave Buffalo will be a sad day. It will be like the death of a good friend. It will also be the day I gather up my Bills gear, have a bon fire, and become a Cleveland fan.