Lean on Change: Why Stevie Johnson Matters

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After the Bills 23-17 loss to the Titans on Sunday, I got a tweet from a Jets fan who thanked me for Aaron Maybin. I didn’t know what he was talking about until I saw the highlights of Maybin icing the Washington game for the Jets with a sack and forced fumble. I should be angry, right? Jealous even?  Embarrassed? Just every single emotion that Bills fans have felt over the last 11 years should have went through my brain.

However, I’m not angry or jealous about it.

I’m completely numb to it. It’s the acceptance of being a Bills fan. When it rains, it pours. When it is suppose to hook to the left, it hooks wide right. When we are 5-2, it becomes 5-7. This doesn’t bother me anymore because as a Bills fan, I feel like we are use to this. I’ve seen this movie before. I’ve seen Marshawn Lynch have one of the greatest playoff runs in history. I’m seeing Willis McGahee hand and hand with the story of the year in Tim Tebow. I’ve seen Haloti Nata stuff the run and make plays while Donte Whitner was fighting with people on Twitter.

Critics have always said that Bills fans are always accepting mediocrity, alas, I think that has changed to excepting reality.

It feels like being Kevin Spacey in American Beauty, where you are just stuck in the everyday boring life of being a Bills fan and nothing exciting is happening. Even when Spacey’s loved ones/bosses are chirping in his ear about buying milk or doing a report, he didn’t get angry or annoyed, instead, he just felt emptiness. It’s waking up and seeing that Aaron Maybin is on Jim Rome or getting tweets from Jets fans laughing at you, while shrugging your shoulders and saying “whatever.” That is what it feels like right now for Bills fans. You are just complacent to the horror.

The Spacey character was so beat up because for years he went through the motions of his dull existence.  Nothing motivated him to try anything new. He woke up everyday to the same damn life.

“My job consists of basically masking my contempt for the a$$holes in charge, and, at least once a day, retiring to the men’s room so I can jerk off while I fantasize about a life that doesn’t so closely resemble Hell.”

Isn’t that being a Bills fan right now?

The a-holes in charge are the owner and his treasurer, and I don’t think anyone really likes them. Instead, people try to mask their contempt by looking for other positives. I often fantasize about what it would be like to be a contending football team. I’ve fantasized about having a LBs or franchise QB for years now. The fantasizing pretty much gets me to a point where I can expect playoffs in 2013.

Now, what was the arc in Spacey’s character? It was some underage cheerleader who came into his life and took him from the land of black and white to the land of OZ. In one fell swoop, he felt differently about life. There was a purpose. A sense of feeling something special and unique. It wasn’t the girl being that radiant really, I mean, she was kind of blah. It just felt fresh to him. It was like being in jail for 10 years and it was a first sign of life. He still had a crap life afterwards with his family being a constant rag, but the cheerleader made it seem worth while. 

To me, Stevie Johnson is that sign of life. He’s the cheerleader.

For the last 10 years, how many likable players, who were good players have the Bills had? Drew Bledsoe was a meat head. Lee Evans didn’t say anything of consequence. Willis McGahee and Marshawn Lynch had it for a time being, but broke the cardinal rule of Buffalo fans by hating the nightlife and bringing liquor into Soho.

Johnson represents something that Bills fans haven’t had in a while and that’s the popular guy. The funny guy (Every time I think of Stevie dressing up as Chan Gailey or having his birthday cake in the shape of his wife’s ass, I can’t help but laugh.) The guy who has captured the imagination of the Bills Mafia. Someone who relates to the 16-year old kid who listens to hip hop or who loves Twitter. He’s broken the mold of the stupid blue collar, steel worker stereotype that worked in this town for older people, by being a star for a younger generation.

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Re-signing Stevie Johnson isn’t about X’s and O’s to me. Could the Bills find a better option in the draft or free agency? Sure. However, it is about sending the message to your fans that the Bills are serious about winning. That they actually care about their fans. This isn’t Jason Peters or Aaron Schobel. This is a guy who reaches younger fans and has a nice following. How cool would it be if the Bills somehow turn it around, with someone like #13 being a part of it? Maybe in a perfect world, we can have a guy who had his faults like all 25-year olds and then five years from now, we can talk about how much he grew into being a man.

More importantly, Stevie really represents the only shinning light we have with this team right now. He’s the guy I feel good about without having to look at how many catches or touchdowns he has. He just makes it fun to be a Bills fan. If the Bills don’t re-sign him, I’m not going to just shrug my shoulders. You take away that cheerleader from Spacey, he goes back to normal. We would go back to thinking nothing good is going to come of this team….EVER! The doubts about ownership and commitment to winning come into play.

Stevie is just a player I feel good about in what has become a really crappy season for the Bills (Again). For years, Bills fans have had so many miserable times that they deserve something to keep them motivated. They need something to feel good about themselves. Yes, silver linings at this point may get us through this season and if the Bills re-sign Johnson, maybe, JUST MAYBE…it can be the start of something beautiful for years to come. 

Joe

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The Lord of Buffalo Wins

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