In a perfect world, Marquise Goodwin would have sat with me and watched the big picture emerge in snippets of 140 characters or less. He would have listened to the people, thereby avoiding his Twitter rant and sparing himself the indignity of commenting on his own comments.
Goodwin, 23, is like many young players who have come and gone since 1999, who believed their places inside the Bills granted them authority over others who have been here all along. Most players don’t realize how quickly they’re forgotten and dismissed into a heap with 14 straight seasons of missing the playoffs.
To review, Goodwin didn’t appreciate the Kids Day crowd booing the Bills off the field at halftime Saturday against Tampa Bay. The jeering, warranted after another putrid display by the starting offense, wasn’t about one preseason game or even one season. It was about years of futility with another approaching.
Along comes this gem from Goodwin, a second-year wide receiver who has accomplished almost nothing, via Twitter:
“Looks like we have to play against our own “fans” this year. Same ones booing prolly the first in line for autographs. Smh #FEWDM – @flashgoodwin
In the Twitterverse, “smh” stands for “shaking my head” while “FEWDM” stands for “For Everyone Who Doubted Me.” Just FYI. Of course, anyone watching Buffalo’s offense was shaking his head and had serious doubts about its effectiveness. But that’s not even the point today.
Goodwin is a relative newbie, too young, inexperienced and detached to comprehend the Bills’ disturbing stretch of failure. He’s one of many over 14 years who lacked perspective while banking millions of dollars made from fans who have sat through all the losses and still come back for more. It truly is astonishing.
During the second half, I took to Twitter and asked people to share how much their lives have changed since 1999. You gain a greater appreciation when tallying hundreds of messages, in 140 characters or less, for how much has transpired since “the last time the Bills made the playoffs …”
Some were historical:
• “… Gas was $1.27 per gallon.” – @Jimmer444
• “… George W Bush was running for Presidential nomination” – @Martello16
• “ … I was practicing law, Dennis Gorski was county executive and @RepChrisCollins was just a businessman.” – @MarkPoloncarz
Some were technological:
• “ … my boss was freaking out over Y2K crashing our store’s computers.” – @staglinglanes
• “… I could buy a movie on VHS @ Media Play.” – @brokenbat78
• “ … I put $.25 in a machine to phone a friend.” – @jj_erin
• “ … the internet was just a fad.” – @McBride
Some involved sports history:
• “ … Tom Brady was just some late round nerd coming out of Michigan.” – @louiegatbs
• “ ... ‘No Goal’ stickers didn’t exist yet.” – @krombko
• “… Connor McDavid had just turned 2” – @RockerTommyB
Some were hilarious:
• “… @EJManuel3 was nowhere near a starting NFL QB...oh wait.” – @diloreto
• “… Thursday nights were Friends, Seinfeld, sex w/my wife. All 3 are gone, & I miss those shows!!” – @6and10DoitAgain
• “ … my Aunt was still my uncle.” – @goehrigt
Mostly, they involved the passage of time, how they were in sixth grade when the Bills last made the playoffs but were now teaching sixth grade, how they had joined the military and were nearing retirement, how they were single and looking and now married with children, how they were married with children and now retired grandparents. And how many grandparents who longed to see Buffalo finally win a Super Bowl died before Twitter was born?
You think about how much hope, and hype, has been funneled into sewers over the years. Drew Bledsoe was a gift from the football gods. Willis McGahee and Travis Henry were going to carry the Bills to the playoffs. Terrell Owens was given a key to the city. Trent Edwards was the answer.
Do we really need to revisit all the can’t-miss, first-round draft picks who did, from Erik Flowers to J.P. Losman to Mike Williams to John McCargo and Aaron Maybin?
Bills fans have made numerous trips to the candy store only to find empty shelves behind locked doors. But, every year, they keep knocking.
Freshmen in college weren’t even born the last time the Bills’ actually won a playoff game, in 1995. They’re part of a younger generation in which the Bills were a punchline, a team they largely ignored after being born and raised in a proud football town that once had lofty standards.
“I was 20 last playoff game. I’ll be 35 in three weeks. I have never legally had a drink to celebrate Bills playoff berth.” – @RealErnieGreen
Fans’ attitudes have changed, too, since the 1990s. Once was a time in which they didn’t boo from inside the stadium. They voiced their displeasure in absentia, and for years that was enough for the organization to get the message. Once was a time in which the Bills needed their fans rather than the other way around.
The NFL has changed along with Buffalo’s place in the league. Fans for years have been terrorized by the possibility of relocation, a possibility that continues to hang over the head of this community. If fans stay home now, the team leaves. That much is guaranteed.
A region that has paid so much for so little will be asked to pony up more for a new stadium. That’s fine for many, so long as they get something in return. Really, they’re not asking for much.
Give them a competitive team with a competent quarterback who can lead them to a winning record and maybe, just maybe, beat the Patriots twice in a season. It also hasn’t happened since 1999, when the Bills finished with an 11-5 record and were consumed by, of all things, a quarterback controversy.
Goodwin is too young to understand, which is why he told reporters Monday, “I just felt it needed to be said” when – newsflash, Flash – he hasn’t earned the right to say anything to people who have been going to games longer than he’s been alive. More than anything, he needed to close his mouth and open his ears.
Allow me to summon Twitter contributor Bernadette Smith to put things in proper perspective for him in 140 characters or less.
“The last time @buffalobills made the playoffs @flashgoodwin was 8..and “prolly” not a Bills fan.” #BillsMafia – @gigix1.