Bills, you really blew it, almost as bad as the “Music City Miracle” wildcard match in 2000. As I read Donn Esmonde’s article “Blackout cheats Bills fans” in Sunday’s Buffalo News, revealing that the Bills declined the new Blackout Policy changes, a few adjectives could describe my state of mind. Perplexed. Befuddled. Stupified. Maybe I punted the perfect opportunity to wear my “I’m with Stupid” tee-shirt, the arrow pointing to the Bills final decision makers who dodged the new Blackout rule.
Okay, I am trying to be fair here, but when has fairness come through for Bills fans? Deep breath, here. Wide right, Music City Miracle, and Ronnie Harmon’s 1990 dropped TD playoff pass on the cover of Time magazine, forever branding him as “Butterfingers,” negates any fairness. It’s a hard knocks life!
THE NEW BLACKOUT POLICY
So, in light of all that, the Bills franchise had their opportunity, a free gift to offer lifer Bills fans. The new blackout policy only requires teams to fill at least 85 percent of their seats for local home games to be televised. A win-win solution for the Bills, considering that Ralph Wilson Stadium’s 73,967 seats advances the structure into the top-ten for largest NFL stadiums. Yet, the Bills decided to punt the policy. A word of advice: stick with Brian Moorman!
The 15 percent of unsold seats could mean a potential loss of $500,000 in ticket sales each season. With today’s hefty NFL contracts, it would probably take ten minutes to come up with that money. Hint: Each Bills player could dump some money into a collection helmet, paint some pretty pictures on it, and buy a money order. While $500,000 may seem like a lot to part with, Esmonde pointed out some other factors that I had not considered.
SHOW ME THE MONEY
2009: Bills pulled in a $20 million dollar profit.
1999: Bills amassed an $11 million profit
Bills Toronto Game: Each year, the franchise takes home $9.75 million
2014: League Broadcast will probably make $7 billion per year, each NFL team getting a “few” bucks.
THE GREED MONSTER
Said Esmonde, “By easing the blackout, the team could have given back to fans who don’t have the time, ability, interest, or money to go to a game. Instead, it just said no. It is no way to show that you care.”
I think the ugly greed monster reared its head. We are in a tough economy right now, unemployment and gas prices higher than what we desire. Many people cannot afford to attend football games, their budget barely covering basic expenses. To the Bills franchise, remember how we suffered through 2-14 seasons and the QB drought between Joe Ferguson and Jim Kelly? We suffer in snow, sleet, and rain to support our team.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
A picture says a thousand words, and I have a few. The Bills neglected the whole picture. With only 7 home games, thanks to Toronto, we are already behind the eight ball. Blacked out home games mean less business for bars, taverns, and restaurants. Their profits drop, which means fewer tickets that may have been purchased by these establishments for group trips to Bills games.
Seeing is believing. Want more ticket sales? Fans who see local home games on television and view how awesome the Bills have become, may decide to take it a step further. Some may give up coffee for month and splurge on a home game ticket.
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM
What boggles my mind is why the Buffalo Bills wrote to the FCC in the 1990s requesting a Blackout Policy change. It’s like polishing white shoes, then buffing them with motor oil. We need to get back to the love of the game, when money was second to football passion, and players like Andre Reed did not make a big stink about salary.
12-YEAR PLAYOFF DROUGHT
For Bills fans, not seeing the Bills advance to the playoffs since 2000 has been humbling. I agree with Esmonde that not filling stadium seats in December is largely based on our losing record. By the time the sun enters Sagittarius, the Bill’ post-season hopes are usually spiraling down the toilet. Getting frostbite and hypothermia for a team that is polishing their golf clubs is not a great enticement or ticket sale motivator.
Show me the Bills have a playoff shot in December, and I will endure a Pinocchio-like icicle forming on my nose. The truth is that I cannot lie and pretend I am okay with the Bills Blackout Policy decision. Surely, my nose would hit this computer screen.