Ed. Note, by Brian Galliford: Bumped from the FanPost section, not for its hard-hitting analysis, but for its just being a fun read. Nice work, riverssyr. End Note
So I decided to head out to the Ralph this past Saturday to check out the Bills’ open practice. I live right around the corner and don’t really have anything better to do on a Saturday afternoon, so it seemed like a good idea. I guess around 3,500 other people also thought this would be a good idea, which is a decently impressive turnout. It was a nice sunny day, and I think my bald spot even got a little tan. Similar to my “optimistic rally cry” post, I’m just going to dump out my thoughts on the day:
1. It’s always weird pulling into the stadium lot without any traffic or police around. It’s usually around this time of year anyway that I make a visit to the Bills store just as an excuse to get close to the stadium. I even went to some redneck boat show in the fieldhouse a couple months back for the same reason. Man, was that a scene. There was this sad little kiddie pool filled with fish that little kids could pay a dollar to try to catch. Just think about how many times those fish have been hooked! You think they’d get it by now – stay away from that little piece of hot dog on a string! Either that or they’d just try to flop out of there and face death instead of constant humiliation. But I digress…I’m getting off topic…
2. I only got there about 20 minutes before the practice started but the tailgate contingent was pretty impressive. It was kind of like the first preseason game – dudes were drinking, drunk chicks were screaming annoyingly, and little kids were throwing footballs around. I didn’t see anyone pulling the “open-car-door-used-as-a-shield-to-urinate-and-try-not-to-pee-on-your-shoes” move though. One of my personal favorites. Once you see that you know the season is in full swing. Lots of jerseys on display for the day as well. I rocked my 1994 Jim Kelly throwback which is always a safe bet, but others were a bit more adventurous. It blows my mind how many people still wear Flutie jerseys. I seriously saw a family of FIVE (dad, mom, Billy, Tommy, Jenny) ALL ROCKING FLUTIE JERSEYS. These kids weren’t even alive when he played! This had me thinking: did mom and dad buy these kids sized jerseys 10 years ago anticipating having three kids? After I thought about it for a while it creeped me out and my brain started to hurt, so I kept walking.
3. Since I am in my mid to late 20s, finished with college, and one of the last of my friends to still live in Buffalo, I of course went solo to this thing. That’s right, by myself like those creepy fat guys with the radio and Bills hat circa 1986 you see sitting alone in the 300 section. The cool thing about this is that you get to eavesdrop on everyone else’s conversation and hear their thoughts on the team, what they are up to for the weekend, or just how sweet they are. On my walk in these two guys (I’d say in their 40’s) were trying to figure out whatever happened to former #4 pick Mike Williams. I thought about telling them, but they quickly switched topics to wondering what beer would be served in the stadium, if any, so I didn’t bother.
4. I eventually made my way in, and with 15 minutes to spare until the start, figured I had plenty of time to grab a beer. This is where the story of the day comes in, so bare with me here. There were three concessions windows open. All lines look equal to me, but by my count, only one is selling beer. (By the way, “half price concessions” did not include beer. Still $6.50 for a 16oz Bud Light). So no big deal, line was short, it was hot, I was thirsty. Seemed like a solid equation that would result in a cold, overpriced beer.
So there’s about 8 people in line in front of me. Little did I know that the C-Team concession staff was on hand that day. I look behind the counter, and literally every dude is over 300 pounds. Now, I’m no skinny guy myself (I run about 230-240), but these guys were just big. Each time they had to maneuver past each other to get to the nacho cheese machine it was like some bizarro ballet going on. They’d have the nachos held high above their head, doing a spin move, bellies just slightly rubbing together. Also, the dude at my register must have been in charge of jalapeno pepper quality control. He’s up there literally removing pepper rings from the jar, one. at. a. time., tapping each one dry until there isn’t a speck of juice on it, and placing it on top of the chips. What is the definition of insanity again?
It didn’t help that BEER AND SODA WEREN’T ON TAP. They’re literally pouring Pepsi out of 2 liter bottles! To make it worse, instead of leaving it out on the counter, they’re pouring a cup, screwing the top back on, and putting it back in the fridge that is 10 feet away every time! To complicate matters, every season ticket holder was given a ticket for a hot dog, soda, and box of popcorn. So every…single…person is getting a Pepsi personally poured for them, fresh trip to the fridge and all. The popcorn process was equally dumbfounding. Every time someone wants a popcorn, the guy has to fold a new box (which apparently is as difficult as solving a Rubik’s cube) and scoop fresh popcorn. Of course the popcorn machine is falling behind so they’re waiting for individual kernels to fall out of the thing to fill the box.
So at this point my mouth is dry and I’m wondering if I’m just being impatient because I’m there by myself and noticing these little things, or if I’m just going absolutely insane from beer withdrawal. My last obstacle to refreshment is Mr. Order Each Item One at a Time, Wait for the Cashier to Come Back, and then Add Something Else. After his tenth and final item (a giant box of Skittles for his spoiled kid who is buried behind a stack of hot dogs, popcorn, and nachos), I FINALLY get to the front of the line.
So as I mentioned, no beer on tap. They’re pouring from cans. Of course after my long wait, my order is now for two beers, one of which I plan on chugging immediately. I watch the guy place two cups on the table and crack open the beers. He’s going for the double pour. Problem with this method? You don’t have an extra hand to tilt the cup to prevent foam. I watch this guy go to work, and as expected, both beers start foaming all over the place. Not sure what to do, he puts down the cans and just stares at the cups, like by some David Copperfield trick the process will reverse itself and no foam will be there, just two cold beers. After the hamster wheel in his head turns a few times, he decides to just push the two cups aside and start over. Seriously. He puts down two new cups in the now foamy mess of a counter. Not learning from his process at all, he goes for the double pour AGAIN. This time though, he’s pouring each one little by little, waiting for the foam to die down, and then pouring a little more. Unreal. Finally, this process comes to a close, I pay the $13.00 cost of the 20 minute entertainment I just witnessed, and make my way to the seats.
5. The team comes out, and with no names on the back of the jerseys and stupid me forgetting to grab a roster on the way in, I’m scrambling to figure out who’s who. Sure I know most current player’s numbers – but who would know that Torrell Troup was #96? I managed to locate a roster from a nice guy next to me (probably felt bad for the chubby, balding dude sitting there by himself) and I was in business. The QBs walk over towards the bench and this West-Coast-Choppers-Wannabe looking dude immediately starts heckling Trent. I mean bad. If you were there you had to have heard this guy. There’s no music playing, no crowd noise, everyone in the place can hear him. Now I’m not a huge Trent fan, but this is totally uncalled for. Very awkward moment. Some people even come to Trent’s defense and start telling the guy to shutup.
6. So at this point I’m getting pretty pumped for some football action. The airhorn goes off and the team lines up like they’re going to practice a kickoff. The crowd is pretty pumped and people are cheering and clapping as Lindell runs up to the ball on the tee, just like the opening kickoff of the first game of the year. So right when he’s about to kick the ball……he swings through…..and misses the ball. There’s this strange moment of confusion where the crowd is trying to figure out if he missed the ball, or if this is some sort of simulation. Once they see Spiller make a fake catch (is this considered his first “touch” as a Bill?), there is a collective groan from the crowd as they realize they’ve been had. They do a few more of these pretend kickoffs and then move into some very boring drills.
7. Naaman Roosevelt definitely had the biggest ovations of the day. He must have had tons of family there (I saw a lot of UB Bulls Roosevelt jerseys), and each time he touched the ball even in mundane catch passing drills he got a huge ovation. Good for him, must have been a really exciting day. He’s got good hands so maybe he gets a shot, but I have a feeling he may be the odd man out in that receiving corps.
8. Completely different subject: I always get a kick out of kids asking for mascots’ autographs. Do they notice that Billy Buffalo is holding their autograph book up to his mouth? Does he have eyes between his two front teeth? I remember when I was a kid my family used to go to Disney World every year (we had family in Orlando). I would wait on that ridiculous line to get into Mickey’s “dressing room” the reeked of sweat and baby puke to get his autograph in my special “Disney Superstars Autograph Book” that cost like twenty bucks in the gift shop, thinking it would be worth something one day. I remember the next year I went back being completely puzzled why Mickey’s signature looked completely different the second time. My mom gave me some explanation about Mickey learning cursive, which of course made complete sense to a 6 year old. Point is, well, I don’t know what the point is. Back to the practice…
9. The real excitement started when they got into 7 on 7 drills. I didn’t take notes, but I seem to remember Brohm getting first reps, which I thought was interesting. I’m not as high on Brohm as some in Buffalo are, but he seemed to have the most zip on his throws. He looked pretty impressive, especially threading the needle on a 30 yard rope to Roscoe down the middle between three defenders. That got the biggest ovation of the day. Trent looked unimpressive for the most part, throwing behind defenders and checking down afraid to throw the deep ball. I wasn’t on the field so maybe they were working on check downs, but I’m not sure Trent needs to practice that, he’s pretty much a master by now.
10. On the opposite side of the field, the defensive line and linebackers were really going at it working on swim moves and pushing the dummies and stuff. There was a lot of shouting and they seemed to be getting pumped up, which I considered a good sign. Maybin still looks small. Troup is a beast. Stroud looks to be in good shape for the switch to DE.
12. All in all I’d say the open practice was somewhat boring, but it was good to get a little taste of football in early June, and to hang out in the Ralph for a bit. If anything it definitely pumped me up for the season to start. Sorry if you were expecting an in depth analysis of drills and stuff on here, but unfortunately that’s not my style.