It's official (if not a bit belated, but I've finally seen it with my own eyes against my own team), what I said about the Tom Brady-Randy Moss combo at the beginning of the season, was completely off base. Last night it was proven so off base, that I nthought that someone must have forwarded my article off of the AFC East Report to Misters Brady and Moss, who seemed to be going out of their way, if only slightly (the way a steamroller might swerve to squash a chipmunk), to spite me. Brady hit Moss for four TDs in the first half! Then, they went for a record-tyring fifth in the third quarter, only to have a Bills defender miraculously make a play to break it up. Of course, Brady followed up with a TD to his tight-end, so what did it matter?
I must admit, in contrast to what many of his critics were saying at the beginning of the year, Moss is a complete football player when he wants to be. Last night he was running around throwing blocks, jumping on fumbles, playing D, and oh yes, even catching passes, incluidng TDs. He, Brady, and the rest of the Pats looked like the varsity going against a Bills' JV squad.
One sad thing about the game was that it made me recall how good the Bills used to be. Heck, with the K-Gun in full force, we beat the Raiders 51-3 in the AFC Championship game in 1990. But, that was a long time ago. Last night ,the score was 35-7 and half, and I recalled that 15 years ago, we trailed by a similar margin at the half against the Houston Oilers. But back then, even though we were down, we knew we had a better team. So, there was at least a glimmer of hope. Last night, the Patriots were clearly that "better" team, except they were winning. But, if they had been down 7-35, they still wouldn't have been out of it...
So, what happened between then and now? Bill Polian. Polian, of course, is now the GM of the defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts. But, in the late 1980s, he built the Bills, from a 2-14 squad to a four-time AFC champion. Then, in the middle of our Super Bowl run, he was dismissed. Why? No one is quite sure, from what I've read. But, he has a notoriously bad temper and apparently he pissed off Ralph Wilson. Now, I hate to rip on another member of the disappearing breed of people with "Ralph" as their first name, but Mr. Wilson looks like a fool. Did you see him last night propped up in the owner's box with the brand new, not even broken-in Bills hat and coat. Granted, he is 90 years ago, and shouldn't be expected to be fully lively and vigorous, but Wilson still fancies himself the CEO of our team. (Well, I guess in many respects it is his team.) But, the fact that he let Polian walk... I mean, Wilson deserves credit for promoting Polian to GM in the first place, giving him his first big break in the NFL, but it was almost like Wilson couldn't deal with the success the Polian brought. By all accounts Poiian was basically fired, and it has been a downward sprial (absolutely no pun intended, but Brady thows a helluva spiral, doesn't he?) ever since. I'm thinkin' if Wilson would have appreciated properly what Polian did, he'd still be in Buffalo, and the Bills-Colts rivalry would be akin to the Red Sox-Yankees, and, well, there'd be no talk of moving to Toronto, because the NFL wouldn't want to upset the balance of things.
Psychopathy and success
This brings me to the previous point we have discussed previously (mainly in reference to anther Buffalo icon, O.J.) about psychopaths and their ability to succeed in professional football. Terrell Owens and Randy Moss each had 4 TD receptions yesterday. Yes, I think you have to be a bit crazy to run across the middle of the field in an NFL game with your eyes trained on a spiraling football while some 200-pound, chiseled athletic maniac like Bob Sanders or Troy Polamalu has his eyes trained on you and is chomping at the bit to split your spine in half with one crushing blow. Moss and Owens take their craziness to the extreme and both enjoy tremendous success in the NFL, partially at least, because of it. Even Bill Belichick is nuts. He has pretty much sacrificed the rest of his life to be a great football coach. Like Richard Nixon, he's even sacrificed ethics when he really didn't need to.
Which brings us back to Polian. So, he was a little off-kilter, a little (well, maybe a lot, based on some of stuff I've read about him reportedly jacking-up a Jets PR guy) tempermental, a little, dare we say, psychopathic. If that's what it takes to win in the NFL these days, so be it. Wilson really dropped the ball by not recognizing this 15 years ago, when he canned Polian. Sadly, it seems that Leo Duroucher's old addage about "nice guys finishing last" was never more evident than in today's NFL. And it's too bad that Wilson, Levy, and Jauron are always getting praised for being such nice guys.
But, luckily for the Bills, everyone in the NFL isn't crazy, and we still have a chance of finishing at .500. By the way, that new Steelers' coach seems like a pretty down-to-earth guy, especially compared to that yelling, spitting, Super Bowl-winning lunatic that he replaced.