NIAGARA FALLS — I’ve never been to group therapy, but I’m assuming it’s like listening to any call-in sports radio show after the Bills julienne your heart once they’ve extracted it from your chest.
By yelling louder, callers believe they’ve created a genuine point, even though they’re typically offering the exact opposite message they did the week prior.
The Bills pass too much. The Bills don’t pass enough. The Bills aren’t creative enough. The Bills should simplify things.
Nobody’s making any sense, but we’re all ridding ourselves of pent-up anger.
Said therapy made Sunday’s ride after the Bills’ agonizing overtime loss to the Chiefs all the more entertaining. As you know if you’re a local sports fan, WGR’s Mike Schopp gets prickly just a few callers in after a loss, largely because his threshold for asinine points plunges dramatically. I’ve never really minded it, because he’s applying critical thinking to a topic that’s more about civic pride and pounding your chest. And as soon as Schopp’s flippant attitude starts to bother me, I remember that he’s confined to his own personal hell, having to field the same batch of calls week after week from half-drunk “experts” who want to yell the same thing into their cell phones that they did at the fire hall where the watched the game.
The whole thing works just fine since Schopp’s partnered with Chris Parker, the Bulldog, who’s clearly more empathetic to the plight of the average fan, and often tries to give callers a longer rope.
Schopp analyzes, Parker feels.
But if you happened to catch Bulldog’s rant after Sunday’s loss, one in which Ryan Fitzpatrick’s awful mishap near the end of regulation cost the Bills a chance for their first win, you missed a classic crossing point, one in which Bulldog finally let out a primal scream.
He likened fans’ recent infatuation with Fitzpatrick to a guy at a bar picking out the best of an ugly lot at closing time.
Pardon my paraphrasing, since I assumed digging for a recorder while crossing the north Grand Island bridge would be an serious lapse in judgment, but Parker essentially said he’d stayed sober through last week’s aberration, seeing Fitzpatrick for what he was. Others, grasping for the best in an ugly field, had allowed their beer goggles to run wild.
But Sunday’s painful loss allowed us to see Fitz in the morning light, and Parker seethed while slapping the noses of listeners who’d made more of the former seventh-round pick than should have been made.
My wife snorted before giggling — her first-ever reaction to sports radio.
“Now you’re going to meet the parents,” he said near the end of the rant, spent from his outburst.
Schopp was speechless, a rarity for certain, and the show had hit its climax early.
Fitzpatrick, to steal Dennis Green’s most famous line, is who we thought he was. He’s exactly who you thought he was, too, if you cared to look at it critically, and he clearly isn’t a first-string National Football League quarterback. He’s a dynamic backup, a guy who could easily hold the fort down for a few games if a frontline starter was sidelined. He makes exciting plays, but he makes awful throws, too, like the one picked off by Eric Berry.
And he’s a perfect bridge between these Bills and the franchise’s next incarnation, hopefully one that gets into the playoffs a little more frequently.
Keep whining, bleeding, and calling, but don’t lose focus on the future.
While Sunday’s loss to Kansas City was painful, it kept the Bills in line for a total rebuild, one that can eventually get the franchise back on track.
OK, enough. Your hour’s up. See you same time next week.