Thursday, October 15, 2009

Let the rebuilding of the Bills begin now

Let’s be honest, this season isn’t salvageable, so the Bills should plunge themselves into a full-fledged, rebuilding mode. Besides jettisoning Dick Jauron, I would also find competent football personnel people to replace the underachieving Tom Modrak and John Guy. Of course, you first must hire a coach with a track record of success and allow him to bring in his people to run the scouting department. So, luring that new coach needs to be priority No. 1.

The other thing I would do is immediately begin stockpiling draft picks. Hey, if you aren’t going to use Terrell Owens, you might as well cut your losses and attempt to get something for him while you can. Unfortunately, Owens’ age (35) and declining production (he’s on pace to make 38 receptions for 740 yards and 3 TDs) means you probably aren’t going to get more than a mid-round pick for him.

I’d also look at dealing Roscoe Parrish. He’s no longer the dangerous punt returner he once was, having fumbled away two returns in recent weeks. At best, you’re probably looking at a later-round pick for him.


I know this doesn’t make the painful present any easier to stomach, but while researching and writing my fifth book relating to Buffalo Bills history, I’m reminded that this isn’t the franchise’s low point. That occurred from 1967-71 when the Bills went 13-55-2 and suffered two one-win seasons, and five 10-loss seasons in five years. That said, a case can be made that the 2000s have been the worst decade in the Bills’ half-century history. Buffalo has had only one winning campaign this decade and ZERO playoff appearances. (The Home Run Throwback loss in Tennessee on Jan. 8, 2000 was part of the 1999 season.)


There are rumors that Notre Dame will heavily court Jon Gruden should the Irish lose to the University of Southern California this Saturday. Though the Irish are off to a 4-1 start under Charlie Weis, they have lost six straight games to Top 10 teams and have been humiliated by the Trojans the past two seasons by a combined 76-3 score.

It’s not certain though if Gruden wants to go the college route, return to the NFL sidelines or stay in the ESPN Monday Night Football booth, where he’s doing a bang-up job as an analyst. Gruden’s one of the guys I’d love to see running the Bills, but other struggling NFL teams also covet him, including the Washington Redskins.

Although Skins owner Daniel Snyder can throw ridiculous money at Gruden, some coaches believe that Washington has become a coaching graveyard because Snyder is a control freak who loves to mettle.

The fact there are so many bad teams in the NFL right now should heighten the sense of urgency Ralph Wilson feels. The courtship of the next coach needs to begin now.


Belated Happy 99th Birthdays to two of the classiest people in sports – Bob Sheppard and John Wooden.

I miss hearing Sheppard’s elegant voice boom over the P.A. system at Yankee Stadium. While interviewing scores of players for my book about the old House That Ruth Built a few years back, I was struck by how important Sheppard’s voice was to the grand ballpark’s ambience. Both Yankees and opposing players said their names never sounded any better than it did when Sheppard announced it.

When I introduced myself to the Voice of Yankee Stadium and told him I was from Rochester, his eyes lit up. “Rochester, N.Y.,’’ he said in those unmistakable dulcet tones. “Home of my favorite orator of all-time – Bishop Fulton Sheen.’’


I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more “alert’’ athlete than Derek Jeter. It’s amazing how the guy’s brain is always one step ahead of everyone else's on the diamond. It clearly isn’t coincidence why the Yankees shortstop is involved in so many crucial plays.


I’m rooting for an all-Joe World Series – Joe Torre’s Dodgers vs. Joe Girardi’s Yankees – but I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if the Los Angeles Angels and Philadelphia Phillies wind up playing for all the marbles.


Love, like sports, can be a numbers game, too. I speak from experience. Three years ago, on Friday the 13th, my soul mate Beth and I went on our first date. My favorite number is 7 (after Mickey Mantle) and her favorite number is 6. Seven plus six equals a lucky 13.

As an aside, I spilled red wine on the restaurant’s table cloth while toasting Beth that evening. Fortunately, she didn’t notice what a klutz I was. Either that, or she was so kind she pretended not to notice.


I like the moxie I’ve seen from Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen this season. If he orchestrates an upset of USC he catapults himself into contention for the Heisman Trophy on my ballot.


Looks like my heart got in the way of my head concerning my alma mater’s football team. I thought Greg Paulus might lead them to six wins this season, but things aren’t looking so good after his dreadful performances the past two weeks, in which he threw six interceptions. SU should beat Akron and Louisville. That would give them four wins. But I’m having a tough time finding two more wins from a schedule that features superior Big East opponents Cincinnati, Rutgers, UConn and Pitt.


Betsy Wells’ latest update on former Times-Union sportswriter Gene Duffey is a good one. A month after suffering cardiac arrest, Gene us up and walking around the hospital and regaining his strength. His friends report that his trademark sense of humor is intact. Gene is being treated for a skin infection. Once that subsides, doctors will be able to insert a defibrillator into his chest and he’ll be ready to return home.

Gene says he really appreciates all the cards and letters he’s received from well-wishers. You can write him at: Select Specialty Hospital, 2130 W. Holcombe, Houston, TX 77030.


If professional hockey is going to survive in Rochester, Amerks ownership is going to need to find a way to mend the fences with Sabres owner Tom Golisano and renew the working relationship with Buffalo's NHL team. Drawing just over 4,000 for your home opener, then following it up with announced crowds of 2,000 your next two home games is a sign that the future of the Amerks here is on the thinnest of ice. Think about this: Rochester Institute of Technology drew 7,400 for its game last Saturday, nearly more in one game than the pros attracted in three games. Not good.


Anonymous said...

You mention the throwback loss in Tenn. That was, as I recall, the game in which the coaches opted to start Rob Johnson instead of Flutie, even though Flutie had put together a number of (admittedly ugly sometimes) wins.
I think Flutie also may have been the last winning QB for the Bills. I've often wondered if he used a voodoo doll on the Bills after that season. It's been nothing but downhill -- and no more playoff appearances -- since. (And, as is typical with the Pats, they allowed Flutie to go out in style.)
Gary C

MattRichWarren said...


You mention jettisoning coaches and personnel people but the problem is nobody is available right now. You can't just go hiring guys off other staffs. If they are going to hire a GM they would have to go with someone who is currently out of work and those options are unappealing to me. Let the season finish out (Gregg Williams didn't get fired after all) and then hire a new football guy at GM and let that GM pick his new coach.

I love reading your stuff.


kidflash said...

Hi Scott,

I'm a Rochester native spending the year in London (getting an MA Journalism degree, btw) and I just wanted to say thanks for the blog, it's a way to keep connected with home. In that sense, it saddens me to hear about the Amerks' continuing problems.

It's fantastic that RIT hockey is doing well, but it's also a sign to me that Styres and Co. also misjudged the interest in hockey in the area. It's one thing to let the Orioles leave when they had clearly lost interest in Rochester, it's another to decide that a 30-year affiliation with a team 60 miles away isn't worth fighting for, especially since their games would still be available on TV.

While I wish the Amerks well, the switch didn't increase my willingness to watch Florida games, and I'd bet that a majority of fans feel the same way.

(I'd also comment about the Bills, but good taste refuses to let me type out the unkind words.)

Keep up the great work.


Jeff said...

Isn't it 'meddle', and not 'mettle'?

Anonymous said...

Hey, Scott,

Remember back in l969 when a couple of umpires were fired by then America League president Joe Cronin?
Cronin said at the time they were being terminated because of their incompetence. The umpires were Alex (Bobey) Salerno and Bill Valentine (not to be confused with the onetime Rome mayor). Salerno, who lived in Utica,has since passed away; Valentine went on to become president of the Texas League.Their firing was the result of them trying to organize an umpires' union. Bet you a cup of coffee today's bunch of incompetent umpires never heard of Salerno or Valentine's attempt to form an umpires' union. Perhaps it;s time to do a little house-cleaning among today's umpires.It might be in your interest to research the firings and come up with a column. Take care and continued success in all of your endevears.
Phil S