It's a new year, and suddenly there's a new stadium lease and a new man in charge for the Buffalo Bills, so I thought now might be as good a time as any to construct a quick wish list for the Bills in which I promise to not to mention the words "quarterback," "13-year playoff drought" or "Buddy."
1. Stick with those blue pants.
The sports sartorialist in me has to say that one of my favorite developments of the 2012 season besides the emergence of C.J. Spiller and the consistent excellence of Stevie Johnson, was the Bills' use of blue pants in their uniforms, as their kind of alternate jersey. Like Joan Rivers always says, if you can't actually be good, might as well look fabulous!
2. Rogers tells the Bills "thanks but no thanks," and Bills stop playing in Toronto.
So far the lease hasn't been renewed, and the guy who masterminded the first lease for Buffalo just got promoted to team president, announcing that there will be no limitations or restrictions.
Chances are, he's putting the Toronto lease off until the stink of the 2012 season begins to dissipate and changes are made. But here's to hoping it won't ever happen. It's an odious part of the Bills' existence, one that has to affect its coaching search.
If an elite coaching prospect had a choice, why would he come to Buffalo where it give away a home game?
3. The NHL lockout ends immediately.
Just had to throw that out there. It's tradition, after all, for Buffalo fans to turn their attention to the Sabres, whose season seemingly always picks up when the Bills' season wanes every November. It's like the trains in Switzerland.
4. Russ Brandon starts speaking like a real person.
I never went to business school, but I know plenty of people who have who are somehow able to avoid using words like "product" when the mean "team," "inventory" when the they mean "tickets" and "greatest asset" when they mean "season ticket-holders." But then again, not every business school graduate gets to star in a commercial hawking fine suits.
5. Retool the "Shout" song.
I know it's a classic, but it's only a classic because of our collective memories and associations with the Super Bowl-attending teams of the early 90s, right? I attended a Bills game recently with a Redskins fan and somehow never knew how kind of awesome the Redskins song is.
On a classiness scale of one to 10, it's a solid nine. The "Shout" song? Ehh...I don't even want to say it—it feels needlessly mean, but it's low. It's a really stupid song. You know how I know it's really stupid? Because the only part of it anyone every sings is the "Ay-ay-ayyyyy-ay, Let's Go Buf-fa-looow!" I have a feeling I'm going to come back to this.
6. Put the brakes on the whole downtown stadium thing.
Look, of course it would be wonderful to see a new stadium in downtown Buffalo, but I really hope people, elected officials especially, take a long, hard look at this. The prospect of a new stadium is one that excites the marketing machine of the Bills front office, and it's certainly politically delicate.
And no mayor, senator or congressman will want to be the guy who supports the Bills leaving town.
But I think Ralph Wilson Stadium is really a kind of neat place. There's an intimacy there that I think I would miss if the Bills were to have a shiny and sterile new indoor stadium. And Russ Brandon always sells the Ralph as having the "best sight-lines in the NFL," whatever that means, but I think he's onto something.
And secondly, it really rubs me the wrong way that so much public money is being committed to one of the region's most wildly profitable companies. Only sports gets this kind of love.
7. Let this be the year that Tom Brady finally looks old.
It has to happen one of these years.
8. The Bills and Jets scrimmage in the Carrier Dome.
Scrimmage, preseason game, whatever. The Bills hold training camp on the eastern edge of Rochester. The Jets are in Cortland. Halfway between those two spots (roughly) is a football stadium with a 49,000-plus capacity. Sell tickets for $10 and $20. Preseason football sucks.
One way to make it more interesting is by playing with venue location and giving the game an engaging narrative: "Battle for Upstate" or just "Rex Ryan Talks Loudly."
9. Which brings me to preseason football.
Please reduce it from four to two games. Please. It's embarrassing.
10. Get two quarterbacks.
Draft one in the top two rounds, trade or sign another one. In other words, do what Seattle did. In fact, do the same thing. Get Matt Flynn form Seattle and draft someone in the third round who redefines the position. Seattle's used to fleecing the Bills in trades, it'd probably do whatever the Bills tell them.
I said I wouldn't use the word quarterback, didn't I? Can only mean one thing: 2013 is the year of the next Bills quarterback.