The 2015 Buffalo Offseason Gets A Different Tom Petty Song

15 Apr

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For as long as I (and many other Buffalo sports fans) can remember, hope about our Bills and Sabres could have been characterized by the simply-tuned-but-deeply-intentioned Tom Petty hit, “Free Fallin’.”

(So simply tuned, in fact, that Sam Smith wandered himself into a legal battle with a similarly simply-tuned hit, “Stay With Me.” We could go further, but this is a blog about sports, not the music industry…).

But this year, we might consider replacing that song with another timeless Petty treasure. As the hook goes, “The waiting is the hardest part.”

One could certainly argue that the last 15 years of Bills football was actually the hardest part, and they may be right. Coach after coach, quarterback bust after quarterback bust, the team for too long had been a whirlwind of mediocrity at best. Or perhaps far too often, utterly incompetent.

Or a dedicated Sabres fan will point to night after agonizing night watching pathetic teams get outworked and outplayed to losses. At the point of convincing yourself that rooting for the team to finish 30th was a viable method to see the completion of 2 years of intentional misery, the players and coaching staff work harder than ever to prolong the haunting that has seemingly become your life story.

But I think right now is the hardest part.

We’ve spent the last decade-plus numbing ourselves to the slogans and the public relations campaigns. Embracing “It’s Our Time” or some variant of the past-forgetting style was like giving a hug to a hornet’s nest most years. Getting stung was almost certainly going to happen, but maybe things would work out fine if you didn’t grab it too vigorously. Most gamedays were about preparing yourself for the worst. A victory? Utter elation, causing friends who followed successful teams to roll their eyes and say, “Wow, that’s pathetic, I’m happy for you (right).”

Today though, we’re in new territory. The two teams are inviting you in with more than just a slick phrase and an outstretched hand. asking for your season ticket money. There is a chance for real hope right now.

So that’s why I think the current status of “Waiting” that is the hardest part.

On one hand, all of the new faces at 1 Bills Drive, and the guarantee of Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel for the Sabres.  The other, recent history.

The anticipation of the next phase in Buffalo sports history could not be higher, but we’ve all been burned after letting down our guard with these teams. We have months ahead of optimistic player & coach interviews, belabored sports talk, and even the discussion among ourselves. But none of it will matter if the results don’t come. And that’s a scary proposition.

Fittingly, Petty’s song, “The Waiting,” appeared on the album, “Hard Promises.” Get ready for a tumultuous summer, Bills and Sabres fans. The last thing we want to be saying to our teams is, “Don’t Do Me Like That.”

 

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