From time to time, Beth and I like to play the hypothetical game. You know, “What if you inherited a million dollars out of the blue?” or “What if you had the ability to fly?” or “What if you could meet any person in history?”
Well, yesterday my better half asked me what would be the first thing I would do if Ralph Wilson decided to give me the Buffalo Bills. And I told her I immediately would announce to the fans that I was lowering ticket prices across the board as a thank you for enduring the rotten football of the past 11 years.
I bring this up because later in the day I saw that Ralph had spoken to The Associated Press and accepted blame for the general manager and coaching carousel and lousy drafting of the past 10 years. That was commendable. But I didn’t like his response when asked what message he had for the fans. “Two words,’’ he responded. “Pain and patience. P and P.”
Bills fans who have paid their hard-earned money for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in a decade and is off to an 0-5 start this season have been more than patient. And they know all about pain.
They are smart enough to realize that there is no quick fix, that it will take a few more years, at least, to climb out of the abyss.
I think as a show of good faith, Ralph should do something unprecedented. I believe he should take a hit in the wallet and buy up the unsold tickets for the remaining home games (Detroit, Cleveland, New England) and distribute them to fans in Buffalo, Rochester and southern Ontario. The first people I’d offer the freebies to are the 13,000 who decided not to renew their season tickets this season.
I know this is radical thinking and would be quite costly. But it would ensure that those games would not be blacked out and also send a message to the fan base that we’re sorry for having subjected you to this sub-standard product and we appreciate your loyalty and hope you stick with us.
I know it’s a pipe dream. But something dramatic needs to be done.
Speaking of dreamers, congratulations to my friend, Tony Liccione, for reviving the Hickok Belt award, which from 1950 through 1976 was the most prestigious individual honor in professional sports We have a press conference with Mayor Robert Duffy today at City Hall to announce the return of the award to Rochester after a 29-year hiatus. (The last five years of its existence, it was presented outside of Rochester.) It also will be an opportunity for me to plug my new book, Jewel of the Sports World: The Story of the Hickok Belt Award, which will be published by RIT Press on October 25.