Niagara Gazette

October 14, 2012

CITY DESK: Yosemite Sam and football

By Mark Scheer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — When asked what he thought of his team's execution following a loss in what would wind up being a winless season back in 1976, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach John McKay famously responded "I'm in favor of it."

Buffalo Bills fans can relate of late.

Three Sundays ago, as the team from New England that shall not be mentioned's all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski galloped — untouched — into the end zone for a go-ahead score in a game the Bills led at halftime by 14 points, I had a genuine Yosemite Sam moment.

Expletives started spewing out of mouth as if I was speaking in tongues. Swear words. Inaudible grunting noises. Decades of disappointment and loss all manifesting themselves in a child-like tirade. 

It doesn't help when you arrive at your sister's house several minutes into the first quarter when the team from New England that shall not be mentioned already has a seven-point lead. 

It's a recipe for disaster when you turn to enter the living room and find the boyfriend of your niece's friend — a guy originally from Boston — sitting in front of the television wearing a Wes Welker jersey. 

At the breaking point in the game and perhaps my football watching life — just as the big Gronk slammed the football down in the endzone in celebration — I turned to my newfound Boston friend, shook his hand, said 'good game' and walked out the door, surrounded in a cloud of cuss words. The Bills went on to lose in grand fashion, 52-28. Thankfully, I missed a good chunk of the lowlights. 

I later apologized to my sister and other family members and, yes, I admit my behavior was unbecoming, both personally and as a fan.

I couldn't help it though. I was done. 

Not done with the Bills. I'm not sure that's even possible. Just done enough with that particular game to know it was only going to get worse, not better. 

This season as a whole feels a lot like that at this point. At the time of this writing, the Bills were in Arizona waiting to play the Cardinals, a winnable game. Things could still improve, I suppose.

Two Sundays ago, they were trounced — as I expected — by a far superior San Francisco 49ers team. I didn't watch any of the first half and tuned in for a few minutes here and there as the team fell apart in what turned out to be a second straight blowout, 45-3. 

No Yosemite Sam stuff this time. I promised myself: Not again this year. 

Not long after the Patriots game ended, as I was driving around the city trying to find some semblance of my sanity, my nephew called, describing for me his own anguish over having watched yet another bitter and disappointing loss at the hands of those guys from Boston. 

We talked it all out — the heartbreaking moments, the fact the Bills could have drafted Gronkowski — a Western New York native — but didn't, the shortcomings on the roster, plans for the team's future, how soon a top caliber quarterback could be acquired. 

We also talked a bit about our real lives, his 7-year-old twin boys and their recent fascination with all things super hero and their newfound interest in one of our favorite things growing up as kids - comic books.

We came to the conclusion that maybe instead of watching the Bills on Sundays we could find better ways to pass our time, like take the kids to the local comic shop or to a movie or something. 

Anything, we figured, had to be better than wasting energy and emotion on the soul-crushing Bills franchise. 

By the time we got off the phone, we had a few laughs and I was feeling better, more relaxed, reminding myself that it's just a game and there are more important things. 

As I drove out of the Pine Plaza parking lot where I had stopped to chat with my nephew, I took a deep breath, contemplated the shortness of life and counted my blessings for all God has given me. 

And then, I thought:  "Gronkowski! Wide Open?"

"Dang that rackin, frackin dirty son of a danged ole fin flappin' flounder!" 

Contact City Editor Mark Scheer at 282-2311, ext. 2250