This afternoon, I was reading Brian Gallilford’s response to a Fan Post suggesting James Hardy is throwing in the towel. The thought was that Hardy was trying to force action from the brass at One BILLS Drive because his playing time will diminish due to our “three-headed monster” running attack. Brian’s response simply made me laugh out loud when he suggested it was far-fetched for a guy that “has not proven jack crap at this level.” It got me thinking, man how things change! It occurred to me that there is a life cycle in the way we hold a particular regard towards a player. Hence, let me demonstrate.
I call this the Honeymoon stage. This is when we find the next best thing sense sliced bread. You know, the bright light. The guy everyone drools over because every draft analyst known to man says, “he’s both physically and mentally prepared.” This is the guy you just know is going to take us over the hump and bring back the glory. Let me also state that this guy can come in many different flavors as well. It doesn’t have to be the # 1 draft pick. In fact, as it relates to Buffalo BILLS fans it’s quite the opposite. See, we just instinctually know our top draft picks will suck so we immediately start looking for the diamonds in the rough. For example, we are drawn to Steve Johnson because how cool is it to stand around the water cooler and say “Scuba Steve.” Deep down in places you don’t want to talk about at parties (yes that is a cheesy A Few Good Men reference) you need Demetrius Bell to succeed. Otherwise, your trivia knowledge of him being Karl Malone’s long lost estranged son is useless! Furthermore, how cool would it be to have a shut down corner named Reggie Corner? Only fitting, right? The examples go on and on. (See Ed Wang – 1st Chinese American player angle. Lonnie Harvey and Brian Brohm – practice squad drop outs. Antonio Coleman – overlooked and playing with a chip on his shoulder…etc)
Keep in mind; this is also the stage where you make ridiculous bold predictions. Examples of this are “he will make the pro-bowl, he will be rookie of the year, he will be come-back player of the year, he will lead the league in sacks, he will lead the league in INT’s, he will score the winning TD to finally beat NE, etc, etc, etc.”
This is the “Defend him to the death” stage. This is basically where you find every excuse in the book to throw at a guy because you don’t want to listen to Jiminy Cricket sitting on your shoulder saying, “I told you that you were developing a dangerous man crush with that guy.” This is a very tricky stage as subconsciously you know the guys stinks, but no matter what he does it’s not his fault. Fans in this stage of the life cycle say things like, “Look at his start in 2008! His brain is scrambled eggs! He hears footsteps in his sleep. I mean seriously, look at that offensive line. He’s been hurt and has struggled to get practice reps to improve. He came in late to camp. He came in early to camp. Just bad coaching and game management. It’s the scheme. He’s had 4 offensive coordinators in 3 years! Look what he does for all those charities. He just got wrapped up in the wrong crowd. How was he supposed to know someone would be dancing in the middle of the street in the pouring rain? What, you never ride shotgun with your boys to look at ATM machines with guns, tinted windows and wacky weed? He’s too small. He’s too big. If they just had a better dietary program. He was hand picked by Marv Levy. The last thing Bill Walsh did on his death bed was call in his recommendation!”
Interesting stage this is. This is basically your first step in admitting you where wrong. However, you qualify it with “Let’s get something for him.” See, nowhere in this thought process do you actually say, “I’m done with him.” In fact, you wouldn’t dare say it out loud as you don’t want to lose your man card with your boys. So, you have to play it very carefully. Much like that first note you passed to the hot girl in middle school. It said something like “I think you are great and I love being your friend. Have you ever thought about being more then friends? Please circle yes or no. If you circle no, I understand because I don’t feel that way either.” Slick, right! You get my drift.
So, in conversation or on message boards you start playing GM. “Hey, I was thinking. San Diego has this LT that we could use. If we got a 2nd or 3rd, I’d jump on.” See, the key here is to over state said player’s value. Even though you know the best you would ever get in that crazy scenario is a 5th, you need to go high. This accomplishes a couple of things. One, in your dream world that is just awesome! Two, when said aloud you have placed a certain amount of layered protection against yourself from your boys. If you say, “I think we can get a 5 or a 4 for him” your guys are going to beat you up. “What’s wrong JRA? You off your boy now? What, is your man-crush over? I thought he was the best thing sense sliced bread. You told me on “x” date that he was both physically and mentally prepared and was going to take you to the playoffs this year. You told me Bill Walsh personally recommended him on his death bed! Are you really ready to throw in the towel?” By going high on your draft demands you can still ride your high horse and maybe, just maybe if you are lucky, kill two birds with one stone without having to move to state 4.
To quote Brian again, this is the “He hasn’t done jack crap” stage. Simply put, this is where you have just had it and your frustration level comes to a boil. Is James Hardy there for Brian? Maybe, maybe not. But there are several guys in the realm of this category that drive that same reaction from me. Off the top of my head for me personally, I would place McCargo, Youboty, Huggins and maybe Kelsay. Interesting emotional response about this stage is you just don’t care about what anyone else says anymore. You’ve finally made up your mind and gone through all 4 stages in your due time. So, when your boys ride you, because they will, you simply ignore and proceed to throw the guy under the bus. Why, because you don’t give a crap anymore!
There it is Rumbling Fans. Your player Fanhood Life Cycle. I hope you enjoyed the read. For future fun, take out a piece of paper and make four columns with headers for each stage. Take a copy of the BILLS roster and place where you are with that guy in each stage. Be honest with yourself. The more truthful you are the better prepared you will be for tailgates, frat parties, fantasy drafts, guys night out and football Sunday! Go BILLS!!!
For the record, Spiller will be the greatest RB this Franchise has ever had. He’ll make everyone forget about OJ J