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Bad News, Bad News, and More Bad News

5

Not the best weekend to be a Buffalo sports fan.

Buffalonians were dealt the following TKO in less than 24 hours:

The Gut Punch

The Bills decided that 1950’s economics still make sense when building or maintaining a brand in the 21st century, as they retained the right to blackout television coverage if the fans fail to fill every seat in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Here’s a study by leading economists on why this is stupid.

Here’s what Forbes Magazine had to say on why this is stupid.

Meanwhile, a WGR poll shows that 29% of Bills fans say “it (the Bills’ stance) doesn’t bother me either way.” Here’s a run-down on what Stockholm syndrome is, which is stupid.

So, what is the difference between a 100% sellout and an 85% sellout at Ralph Wilson Stadium? $90 grand. That’s about 4 Hyundai Elantras. Yea, that loss would really sink the Bills’ ship. Stupid.

You may have noticed that I just had to type “Ralph Wilson Stadium.” We’re arguing over $90k/game while Ralph Wilson refuses to sell naming rights to the stadium. Here’s a link to what other team owners are making based on naming rights. Stupid.

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And here’s Steve Ott showing you how I feel about Ralph Wilson right now.

The Glancing Blow 

Sergei Fedorov, GM of CSKA Moscow (the crap-assed KHL team which I will not waste my time linking to) has made an enormous offer to Mikhail Grigorenko. I’d be surprised if Grigs abandoned all of his work and progress towards a very successful and very lucrative NHL life in Pegulaville. Plus, the new rookie class of Sabres SEALs would kick his ass.

Then again, he hasn’t signed yet. From “Sports.ru” (translated via Google Translate):

Sergei Fedorov: “Grigorenko guaranteed a place in the team of CSKA with very good financial condition”

The general manager of CSKA Sergei Fedorov said that CSKA are going to rely on young players, adding that it would very much like to see in the striker Mikhail Grigorenko.

– What are your plans for the young players? How can they prove themselves in the company of such masters as Alexander Radulov?

– According to the regulations in this part of four hockey player gaming. But we have to produce on the ice at least two. If we have two worthy candidates, of course, they will play. We would very much like to have, for example, Mikhail Grigorenko. You can even bring a few names, places to eat. And without them, the application will be very difficult to apply the match. In general, the famous CSKA and will be famous for talented youth.

– And you have a decent selection of this year.

– It is. Of course, it is necessary to make tough decisions, competition is very high – we tried this. I gave the example of Grigorenko, because he really guaranteed a place in the team of CSKA with some very good financial condition. But our young people want to try overseas. Therefore, with such players as Grigorenko, it is difficult to negotiate. But we still try – quoted Fyodorov Sportbox.ru.

Recall that Grigorenko was selected “Buffalo” in 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the 12th number.

NHL94 injury Bad News, Bad News, and More Bad News

This afternoon, the old Sega Genesis is coming out of the attic. Line changes will be set to off. Buffalo versus Detroit. Line of Ray-Sweeney-May, Donnelly and Sutton will be dressed for the Sabres. Fedorov goin’ DOWN.

 The Uppercut

Fedorov’s offer to Grigorenko might actually garner a little more leverage if the NHL CBA talks endanger the NHL season. Right now, it’s at least in danger of being postponed. Link.

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Screw the smelling salts. This is a beer breakfast kind of day in the B-lo.

Well, we did get news of the Girgensons signing, which is great news for the short and long term future of the Amerks and Sabres. We also were awarded the news of the French Connection Statue that will be built at the FNC – in the newly named “Alumni Plaza.” Fans can buy a brick for a hundred bucks, and get their name inscribed to join the legacy.

Hell, that’s where some Buffalo sports fans might find relief from all the bad news. Anyone who just cancelled plans to buy a ticket to a Bills game this season can redirect that money towards a Sabres brick.

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Buffalo Sabres Nation does not, in any way, condone throwing bricks through Ralph Wilson’s windows. This is just a stupid metaphor. For a stupid day.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, everybody.

Go Sabres.

Go Bills.

And god bless the fans.

 

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The ‘Stache, The Bills New 4-3 Defense and Bad Things, Man

I love the moves the Bills have made recently. Of course it’s all “on paper” and nothing guarantees more success than last year. But there’s a lot to love about the new defense.

And of course if you’re going to talk about the defense, you’ve got to mention the man behind it, the new defensive coordinator, “The ‘Stache”, Dave Wannestedt.

The ‘Stache is one of those guys we’ve had to hate with other teams, and I can’t think of worse ones than Dallas (during the early 90s) and Miami. I could appreciate him during his stint with the Chicago Bears from 1993-98. He always had that Bill Cowher-esque scowl while he contorted his mustache into various configurations – all of them implying anger.

 The Stache, The Bills New 4 3 Defense and Bad Things, Manbuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Dave_Wannstedt-150x150.jpg 150w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

It's not true that the eyes say it all, nor the eyebrows... mustaches convey more emotion than either of these.

I love the guy as our D-coordinator. He’s one of those guys that never quite translated as well as a head coach but can be awesome as a coordinator. However he actually had decent success as a head coach: he was only 41-57 with Chicago, but he was 42-31 at the helm in Miami and that was with QBs such as Jay Fiedler, Ray Lucas and Brian Griese. He actually made the playoffs his first two years at Miami (remember 2000 when our own Thurman Thomas played there? Ugh.) It’s worth mentioning that his NCAA record is 42-31.

His defenses typically rank pretty high in terms of yards allowed, points scored and takeaways. He had some off years with Chicago, but his Dallas and Miami defenses were amazing.

With Wannestedt though, everything is predicated on the defensive line, as it should be. That’s where the action starts, and if you can control the line of scrimmage you can typically control the game. As The ‘Stache says in this TBN article:

It’s going to be a defensive-line friendly scheme, and by that I mean we’ll be as good as our guys up front play,” he said. “That’s how it was at Dallas, at Miami, every place where we’ve run this scheme. The guys up front, it all starts there. If we can get a good rotation going, keep some guys healthy, you know that kind of sets the foundation for what we’re trying to get done here.

The Bills’ 4-3 will be an attacking defense as well. Not one that reads and reacts, but one that uses the talent we have very well. Says Wannestedt:

Our defensive linemen will never hear the phrase, ‘You gotta use up a double team or use up a block.’ We want them making plays.

By going to the 4-3, the Bills also get players back to their natural positions. It’s likely that the 4-3 defense was planned when Chan Gailey and buddy Nix took over but they didn’t have the personnel for it. We have the talent now. I couldn’t say it better then Pat Kirwan does:

Kelsey returns to his natural position (DE) but relegated to backup, too, and this improves depth. Andre Davis is gone. Barnett is better suited to play in a 4-3 front (scheme he played when originally drafted by Green Bay) and Merriman becomes a situational pass rusher which adds length to his career which has been up and down with injury. The only change in the secondary is McKelvin, who is now third string.

So a new defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills and a new scheme in the 4-3. According to Wannestedt, there’s no reason whatsoever to worry that the switch to the 4-3 will be difficult or won’t happen in time for the regular season (from the same TBN post):

Every day we’re putting in something different. Every day it’s a different coverage, it’s a different front. It might be a different blitz and we’ve got it organized pretty good,” Wannstedt said. “I think when we get to about Day 11, 12 [of spring practice] we’ll be about ready to play a game, really. And then the key will be to come back in training camp and start over again.

SuperMario, Marcel Dareus, Kyle Williams, Mark Anderson… if those guys can stay healthy it could be the harbinger of very, very bad things for opposing QBs and RBs.

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Joe D. And The Biscuit Working For A Safer NFL

As Bills fans, most of us have heard about Joe DeLamielleure even though not all of us have seen him play. He was a bit before my time but I’ve always heard how he was a huge part of the Electric Company that blocked for The Juice. Of course our hero OJ has fallen in stature since those days, but Joe D surely hasn’t.

In fact, quite the opposite. Joe DeLamielleure has been fighting for pension increases for players. He’s been a harsh critic of how the NFL handled players before the collective bargaining agreement and free agency in the mid-90’s. He says that some players that retired before 1994 get under $1,000 a month to live on. He himself gets about $2,100 before taxes – and that’s for a guy who played 13 years and is in the Hall of Fame.

But now Big Joe D is fighting for player safety and is trying to shed light on the issue of concussions. Hit that link for a great yet sobering read. To pick out some parts, Joe says that one time he got hit so hard he thought he was working in his Dad’s bar because the smelling salts reminded him of the ammonia used to clean the bar. But of course he went right back in the game.

Those guys were TOUGH.

 Joe D. And The Biscuit Working For A Safer NFLbuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/joe-DeLamielleure-buffalo-bills-199x300.jpg 199w" sizes="(max-width: 380px) 100vw, 380px" />

Put this guy on your list of people not to mess with. The word "Badass" comes to mind.

Check this:

Repeated collisions over the years left two permanent divots in his forehead from the bolts in his helmet. “I bled every game for two years,” he says. “Some of the football card [photos] I wore a bandana” to hide the wounds.

(I will never complain about my job again.)

And this:

He’s lost 60 percent of the hearing in his left ear, a result of opposing linemen, most of them right-handed, slapping his helmet.

But perhaps worst of all is the short-term memory loss and anger problems:

I lose my wallet three or four times a day. I talk extremely fast, which I never did. Then you get a short fuse. Little things [set] you off. And it’s constant. I was never that impulsive.

Joe is very active in promoting these issues. To me he’s a real hero for the work he does. On his kids playing football he has this to say:

I loved playing. I was addicted to it. Now I won’t let my grandchildren play it. I have five grandsons, and I tell my daughters, ‘Don’t even think about it. Over my dead body those kids will play football until they clean it up.’

Joe D isn’t the only former Buffalo Bill to try to make the NFL a safer game. Cornelius Bennett is the chair­man of the NFLPA Former Players Board of Directors and he too is fighting for player pensions and better safety. This article at al.com talks about what Bennett is doing as well as how Mark Kelso might have been ahead of his time.

For the younger Bills fans out there, Mark Kelso was a free safety who wore a double-layered helmet that looked oddly way too big for him. He’d had a concussion or two and (smartly) wanted to make sure he didn’t have another. (For a little guy he really got into some collisions.) He was laughed at by many and called “The Great Gazoo” – but he didn’t suffer another concussion.

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The Great Gazoo was a Flintstones character who magically appeared to Fred and constantly called him a dumb-dumb. He's also a classic example of a "Jumped The Shark" moment for a TV series.

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Pic of Mark Kelso for comparison. Still funny. Still wrong to laugh because it's about safety. But still funny.

Getting back to “The Biscuit”, a.k.a. Cornelius Bennet, he had this to say:

We know the bubble helmets protect the head. But no matter what kind of helmet you have, there’s no way to protect the brain if you take the wrong kind of hit. A Kevlar helmet won’t stop brain trauma with the wrong kind of hit. But we’re making changes on a daily basis. Football is a great game, and we’ll make it safer.”

It’s a sad thing that our entertainment can lead to permanent damage to someone to the point where they even want to kill themselves (i.e. Junior Seau). Kudos to these former and current heroes of ours for the work they do and hopefully it will lead to fewer and fewer concussions.

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2012 Bills Draft Preview: Prepping my Draft Day Scream

Two words: Aaron Maybin.

Bills fans are in a prime position to be disappointed when the Bills make their choice at 10th overall today. The “sexy picks” of WR’s Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd will likely be already taken or simply passed up by the Bills in order to fill position(s) of more pressing need (OT).

Mind you, I’m a fan of LB Luke Kuechly, SS Mark Barron, and CB Stephen Gilmore, players also mocked to the Bills at tenth overall, but there’s a chance none of them will be available at that 10th pick. Ideally, the Bills should lunge upon Kuechly if he is still there at #10. He’s an elite tackling machine who excels in pass coverage. This  guy should really be up for serious consideration: how about a player who, along with helping the Bills’ run defense, would also better the pass defense? From the Boston Herald:

The 6-foot-3 Kuechly arrived at the combine at his ideal playing weight (242 pounds) and with a head full of knowledge on the evaluation process. Kuechly was described on the combine website as the “most instinctual and technically sound linebacker to enter the draft in years.” That would explain his 532 career tackles, second-most in NCAA history, and an ACC-record 191 last season.

Basically, imagine a hard nosed guy like Poz, but who doesn’t suck. One that can actually help to stymie Tom Brady. One that can help stop that damn running game.

But this is draft day. The kind of day where the Bills might reach on a player like they did with Aaron Maybin (11th overall in 2009) over a stud like Brian Orakpo. No one needed a few NFL seasons to know how that pick would turn out for the Bills. Most mocks have the Bills reaching for OT Riley Reiff. Don’t get me wrong, Reiff is a solid player – but he’s not a top ten talent.

In other words, if the Bills pick a player at 10 that they should trade down for, this will be the sound heard’ round the B-lo (fair warning: turn your speakers down):

 

 

At least that will be the sound from my couch.

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Do the right thing, Bills.

There’s also a good chance the Bills will trade up to land the elite OT Matt Kalil, or trade up for a guy like Kuechly. That tenth spot is pretty dicey in terms of what best player available will be left – and if that guy will be able to make a big impact on the gridiron for Buffalo this season.

Trade up, trade down, whatever you do, Buffalo, do it right.

Otherwise, my neighbors will be hearing from me.

Go Bills.

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Phil Kessel: The Most Hated Man in Skates?

It’s Superbowl/Puppybowl Sunday!

Which means that no one is reading hockey posts today.

For that reason, we reach deep into the file cabinet today and present you with a re-post on Phil Kessel. Call me a Sabres traitor if you will, but with cancer survivors Mark Herzlich and Marcus Cannon lining up against each other in the Big Game today, this post fits the day perfectly.

Oh, also, we have breaking news! You likely already know the headline story about the Patriots’ merciless decision to cut Tiquan Underwood just hours before the Superbowl. Not to be outdone by the NFL, Animal Planet has gone an extra step – and has cut Lil’ Tiquan.

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I'm man enough to admit I openly wept when I saw his eyes. Poor lil' guy.

Aaaaaanyway…
From the file cabinet. (Originally Posted on February 7, 2011.)

Most NHL fans know of the trade that sent Phil Kessel from Boston to Toronto.

In Boston, fans already were publicly vilifying him on message boards and Bruins blogs before the trade – but the hate hasn’t stopped since.

 

Don%27t Hate the Game%2C Hate the Player Phil Kessel: The Most Hated Man in Skates?
Fair enough –  the Leafs sent the Bruins a 1st and 2nd round pick in the 2010 draft, plus a 1st round pick in the 2011 draft.  That’s a steep price for a pure goal scorer whose two way game is good enough, but not exactly overwhelming.  Plus, his personality is often described as clumsy, and awkward.

But the hate isn’t necessarily going on just in Toronto.  A Bruins blogger put forth quite an argument to put an end to the booing and hatred of their once prime scoring winger, noting how he was labeled in Bean Town as a “team cancer.

Ouch.

People must have a short memory.  It’s never fair to tell fans to give up their rights to boo and hiss in the direction of a player they feel may have wasted a portion of their season ticket money, but Phil Kessel beat cancer at the age of 19.  In his rookie season.

Those who want to question Kessel’s toughness need to remember how he stood strong and bested one of the most vicious, most terrifying of foes.  Cancer is a life-altering disease – the Big C – which feels like a death sentence when a doctor hands down the news.  It’s the loneliest of battles.  There are no teammates that can help drive it away.

Embryonal testicular cancer.  That is nothing to laugh at.

“My first year in the league I had cancer,” said Kessel. “I got through it pretty easily and I’m healthy now. Obviously, (it was) a tough time in my life but it made me stronger.”

In all, Kessel missed just one month of that rookie season.

With a rookie season like that, consider giving Kessel some credit.  From there, all those draft picks that Toronto gave up put him in a pressure cooker right off the bat – and Toronto is not the kind of town to be kind to its stars on a good day.  Kessel beat the Big C.  He agreed to head into that trade scenario.

How has he responded since?

He had a 30 goal campaign in his 1st year with the Leafs.  This season, year two, he has 19 goals in 52 games.  He was selected for the All Star game, and then was the last player selected in the All Star draft – much to the amusement of the hockey community.

The hockey world erupted with laughter.

He had to put up with a lot of Twitter snark because of that.  And that is already beside the horrific mis-use of the ”team cancer” label, and the other depths that folks will go to berate this man – just check out HF Boards’ thread entitled “Phil Kessel…Ugliest NHL Player?”

NHL fans like to believe their sport carries a certain weight of class with it, that the players and their fans are somehow more traditionally steadfast, and noble, than those from other sports.

Well, in a way, they’re right.  When Kessel was picked last at that fantasy All Star draft, he was awarded a surprise sum of $20,000 for his favorite charity.  The look on Hank Sedin’s face, his head on a swivel, (at the two minute mark) says it all: “we didn’t see this coming.”

Kessel has had a lot of circumstances thrown his way that he never saw coming.  Then again, that is part of what makes an athlete able to compete at such a high level – to be able to be knocked down and get up again, and again, and again and continue to face difficult challenges in the eyes of the public and of one’s peers.  What do you call it?  Oh yea, toughness.

And of that $20k?

The money is heading straight to cancer research, to aid in the goal of someday curing the disease.

Kessel?  He has never asked for anyone to lay off.  He just keeps grinning, at his awkward best, and focuses on scoring goals.

Go Sabres.

And go Puppy Airedale.

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