Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bills fans decide to skip The Juice

In case you missed it - and you very well might have if you were fixated on the NFL draft - the Buffalo Bills unveiled their 50th anniversary team Saturday during a balmy, football festival at the Ralph.

I thought, overall, the fans did a good job of picking the team - though I think it would have been better had they chosen two offensive tackles instead of four guards for their starting offensive line.

To me, the most problematic aspect of selecting the Bills half-century squad is what to do with O.J. Simpson.

The fans' answer was to vote the Juice off the island. They instead went with three wideouts and only one running back - Thurman Thomas. Clearly the Thurmanator is most deserving, given his extraordinary and diverse skills as a runner, receiver and blocker during Buffalo's Super Bowl run in the early 1990s.

But I still wonder if you can have a true all-time Bills team without the most gifted player in team history.

Yeah, I know, the guy comes with incredible baggage. Any objective person deduced from the evidence presented at the trial of the 20th century that the Juice committed double-murder. The fact Simpson has been a constant thorn in the side of his adopted hometown of Buffalo ever since didn't help his case either.

Still, I remember what an incredible player he was for the Bills. He put Buffalo in the national spotlight in the 1970s. No athlete in the city's history was ever so loved.

So, I struggle with his omission, just as I struggle with whether his name still belongs on the Ralph Wilson Stadium Wall of Fame.

I suppose, though, you could look at it this way. Even if he had been voted onto the 50th team, someone would have had to accept on his behalf because no judge would have granted him permission to leave prison for the ceremony.


The Boston Red Sox have much more heart and grit than the over-paid, over-rated New York Yankees. And that statement comes from a guy who has followed the Pinstripes since 1961.

These Sox remind me in a lot of ways of the Yankees that won four World Series titles under Joe Torre. Regardless of your allegiance, you can't help but respect the way guys like Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jason Varitek play. And I like the even-handed, classy way manager Terry Francona runs his ballclub.


Speaking of the Yankees, their fate may rest not upon their jillion-dollar free agents, but rather on the arm of Phil Hughes, who's been called up from Scranton/Wilkes Barre in hopes of stopping their slide. And if the young phenom does come through for them maybe it will remind the impetuous Steinbrenner boys and Brian Cashman that the those last four World Series titles in the Bronx were won with a core of homegrown players.


I don't know what it is with my wife and keys, but lately they haven't been a good match. Last month, she managed to drop them down an elevator shaft and yesterday she lost them while we were walking through the neighborhood.