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Those Buffalo blues


The Patriots sacked Drew Bledsoe seven times --- five on Buffalo's last two desperation drives --- during the Bills' 31-17 loss on Sunday. New England scored the game-clinching touchdown when it sacked Bledsoe, forced and recovered his fumble, and ran it 68 yards to the end zone. The play epitomized the long season Bills fans seem to be in for this year.

There were good things though. Buffalo had 337 yards of offense. Terrence McGee returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.

But Buffalo was penalized 11 times for 94 yards, and committed too many errors to beat the defending Super Bowl champions.

That all adds up to misery for Bills fans.

I have a friend named Pete who takes Bills' losses hard. I went to Pete's house to watch the AFC Wild Card game between Buffalo and host Miami in January 1999, and every time the Dolphins seemingly sealed the 24-17 win, Pete would concede defeat, go to his bedroom, and play his guitar, leaving his guests to do whatever they wanted. Pete didn't care if they hung themselves.

Pete conceded defeat three times during the last five minutes. After each of those moments, he left the room disgusted, and went back to play guitar. Years of watching Buffalo have turned Pete into B.B. King.

But I can understand his blues. When I was a teenager, I too was a Bills fan who wore Buffalo on his sleeve. I became so angry when the Bills lost one time, I slammed a chair down at my parents' house and gouged a huge hole in the kitchen floor. Luckily, they weren't home. So I glued the piece back in place, but I knew what I had done. It was like that murderer who heard his victim's heart underneath the floorboards in Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart. That covered hole in the floor remained my scarlet letter throughout childhood.

Fortunately, my parents have a new floor now.

But back then, whenever the Bills lost, I thought of all the crap I would take the next day, particularly from my friend Tom, who is a Miami fan. I'd have to think of witty ways to defend the Bills.

Tom often called up and tormented me during Bills games. Of course, when Buffalo was kicking Miami's butt during the late '80s and through the mid '90s --- a stretch when the Bills won 17 of 21 games --- I mercilessly tormented Tom, too. Basically, Buffalo was the reason why Dan Marino only got to the Super Bowl once.

I've since grown up, but there's an occasional lapse in sportsmanship when it comes to football. I was in Tom's fantasy league last year, and when it was apparent that my team, the Unspeakable Horror, stunk, I waived my entire roster. I knew I could do that without incurring any transaction fees because I didn't pick up any players. It was a loophole, and I figured it would make Tom and the rest of the league's players angry. But I was within the rules, and doing that gave me a twisted sense of retribution.

Tom has barred me from participating in his league, and he passed the new "Doser" rule this year, which states that waiving players will cost the owner money. I'm glad I made a lasting impression in Tom's league.

Overall, Bills fans will be facing more tough times, so I want you to learn from the psychological coping techniques I've employed in my adult years.

In order to remain calm, you should accept that Drew Bledsoe and the Buffalo line is a disastrous mixture during obvious passing downs. Expect a sack nearly every time. Now, if they convert, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

And if people bug you about the Bills at the water cooler, or if they call you up incessantly to rip on them and bring you down, do what Dr. Wayne Dyer, a motivational expert, suggests whenever people get on your nerves. Refuse to ingest it. Remain calm and simply say, "I'm sorry, that's your stuff, and that has nothing to do with me."

Remember, feelings are always internal. You process information, and feelings are the result. Only you control how you feel.

If that doesn't work, lace your Sunday salsa with Prozac and Morphine.

Now if you responded to that last statement with, "I'm sorry, that's your stuff, and that has nothing to do with me," you're already learning.