It’s been a run of 26 successive Buffalo Bills home games fans have been afforded the opportunity to watch their hometown team on television. Sadly, that streak is but a few flips for the calendar from coming to its conclusion. The Bills are winless, appearing more unwatchable than ever, play an unappealing Jacksonville Jaguars team this Sunday, and more than 11,000 tickets still remain.
Can you hold fans accountable for that?
Forget the Super Bowl era glory days, it feels like centuries ago since the Drew Bledsoe and Eric Moulds-led Bills even had a winning season. Yet week after week, ever since December 24, 2006 when they hosted Tennessee, Ralph Wilson Stadium has sold out. Through thick and mostly thin, loyal fans of Bills football are a glutton for punishment.
That may not be the case anymore.
The Jaguars game is going to be blacked out and it won’t be the lone occasion fans that refuse to purchase a ticket to the game will be searching for something else to do on a Sunday afternoon. Bills Vice President of Communications Scott Berchtold said more than 12,000 tickets remain for three other Buffalo home games: Detroit on November 14, Cleveland on December 12 and New England when they come to town the day after Christmas. It’s not clear the Chicago Bears game in Toronto November 7 will sell out either.
Potentially, that’s five Bills blackouts coming this season.
The grounds for the lack of faith and dollar spending from fans are obvious, provided you’ve actually caught a few glimpses of the 2010 Bills. They’re winless and have played uninspired in doing so. There’s no player worth buying a ticket for and if C.J. Spiller is the exception, the coaching staff has a funny way of recognizing it. He has all of 14 carries in four games.
Simply put, fans are tired of plopping down hard earned money to spend a Sunday witnessing first hand such an abysmal product. Things were supposed to change with a new head coach and general manager. Even if the Bills continued to lose for the short term, they’d at least bring entertainment value in doing so. They haven’t. Instead, this edition is ineptly bland to the point many are already comparing them to the worst teams in franchise history.
Donte Whitner last week complained that opposing teams were laughing at them near the conclusion of games. That’s child’s play compared to this past Sunday, when a Jets player referenced Buffalo players as “them bums.”
If you ask me, it’s time for Ralph Wilson to step up and show that’s he genially remorseful for this abomination of a season. He should express good faith to a fan base that’s more dedicated than the organization has been, and purchase the left behind 11,000 or so tickets for the Jaguars game.
At the very least, he’d be prolonging a stay of television execution.
Look at this way—the average Bills ticket price right now is just under $60. If he were to buy out 11,000 tickets to lift a blackout, it would cost him around $660,000, which is approximately half the money he saved two weeks ago when his club sent Trend Edwards packing and pocketed $1.3-million in the process.
It would also bring the organization something unprecedented in recent months; positive Buffalo publicity. Surely, such a move would be reported on ESPN and all major outlets, a mortified owner feeling awful enough about the performance of his team to be willing to give the hard working, ticket and merchandising Bills fans a free television pass in exchange for suffering through this calamity of a quarter-season.
I’m not suggesting Wilson buy up thousands of tickets every home game simply because his on-field product stinks. That’s not going to happen, nor should it. But even if it’s a one-time deal, Wilson could send a message with his wallet that he’s yet to deliver with his mouth.
“I’m sorry for what you’ve been forced to see.”