Modified Wishes Granted for Buffalo Bills

New Bills owners Kim and Terry Pegula relish the moment before the Bills game against the Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. on Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. (James P. McCoy/ Buffalo News)

Every genie story warns about the perils of not phrasing wishes properly.  I didn’t literally mean that I wanted to be made of money, sir.  Unforeseen outcomes embody cruel fate, which brings us naturally to rubbing the lamp with the Buffalo Bills.  There must have been another way to word the request for a free-spending fan of an owner.  Please be more careful with massive contracts, request fans who’ve endured enough irony.

The Pegulas are a granted request that nonetheless hasn’t made dreams come true.  At least, it hasn’t happened yet.  Magic takes some adjustment to the real world’s physics.  They’re recalibrating spells that seemed to work well as daydreams.  It’s much tougher to control events than projected, which they’re learning through the pain of imperfect experience.  So, they really are Bills fans.

One earner with the future in mind could put a bit of a paycheck into a 401(k) while another prefers to finance daily blended coffee beverages.  Both are moving their money, but one will spend retirement jittery while living in a park.  Kim and Terry are learning to spend wisely instead of just spending.  Like a 300-dollar Brock Osweiler Cleveland Browns jersey, a significant purchase may not be a great investment.

At least there’s been a financial upgrade.  It may seem ungrateful to complain about the man who created our team and kept it where it is.  But the underwhelming win-loss record speaks for itself, with receipts for confirmation.  Buffalo fans can recognize every major contribution Ralph Wilson made while noting what he didn’t do.  Paying players in returnable Coke cans wasn’t a reliable way to build a winner.

It’s nice to appreciate having a team to boo.  Still, avoiding relocation isn’t enough.  The franchise has most commonly merely existed while rarely excelling.

We’ve often felt obligated to be grateful without demanding too much.  Be fine with ramen at every meal because it provides marginal nutrition.  Sure, there’s no contrast or enjoyment in those seasoning packets.  But you’ll have enough energy to scrape yourself off the floor.

Off their diet, the Bills overindulged in empty calories.  It’s nice to have a franchise no longer known for cheapening out.  The alternative wasn’t as fun.  Any backers born earlier than this decade lived through the coupon era.

Yet paying guys to not work fails to buy championships.  That’s true even if it’s preferable to the first owner not paying enough.  Rex Ryan getting a fortune to not coach is preferable to Chuck Knox taking his success to Seattle because he was offered the football equivalent of minimum wage. Still, high employee turnover remains.

Photo of Chuck Knox from AXS.com.

A big stake is meaningless without return.  The one thing better than the willingness to fire a failure is hiring someone worth retaining.  Spending a ton on J.C. Penney stock is bold without being prudent.

The only fear with a giant budget is allocating wastefully.  An extravagant offseason purchase might be justified by not having to surrender an asset in return.  But there’s a difference between overpaying for something worthwhile and getting nothing.  Spending more isn’t impressive on its own.

A prominent addition can devour lots of salary while still producing.  Teams fear not waking up from the nightmare that is the overpaid underachiever.  The classic example not only in Buffalo but throughout sports is all-time zero Ville Leino, who scored as well as he draws.  By contrast, Brandon Beane knows spending a fortune on free agents usually generates the most excitement on signing day, not during games. Mid-level signings offer depth and the chance to pleasantly surprise.

Teams may as well be bad on a budget.  Owners of lousy clubs get the same return if they’re cheapskates.  If you’re going to be bad, why pay a lot for talent?  It’s better to have marginal players that don’t make much than shell out a fortune for talented slackers, at least according to cynics.  Wilson was the sort who counted the pennies in the ashtray. On the other hand, you can’t expect a problem to be solved by throwing currency.  If it did, Paris Hilton would’ve grown up by now.

Grumbling about poor records is a sign the Pegulas have become accepted.  Their normalized ownership is like, well, Buffalo having fun things to do.  It’s no coincidence that the area’s profile has risen concurrently with the Queen City’s royalty.  Dedicated residents always liked it.  But you don’t have to search as hard to find what’s worthwhile.  This poor club’s fans hope their teams soon reach the same status.

Like us, those at the top of the Bills depth chart want to be more than merely glad the teams are here.  Not spending the entire allowance by Saturday morning means fun over the rest of the week.  Having to learn how to budget is a byproduct of success.  A day job is worth it for funding a hobby, which in this case just happens to be a pro football team.

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Anthony Bialy

About Anthony Bialy

Anthony Bialy lives in New York City and acts like he's still in Buffalo. He thinks "Buffalo 66" is biographical and considers it a crime against mankind that Steve Tasker is not in the Hall of Fame. He knows every bodega in Manhattan which sells Labatt Blue. Follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyBialy.

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