The NFL is the Buffalo Bills’ world and we’re all just living in it.
The Kansas City Chiefs, Joe Brrrr..Bengals and the Philadelphia Eagles dominate the discourse, but Buffalo is the Forrest Gump of NFL franchises. Not in the sense that someday a generic leading man will depict Josh Allen in an eponymous biopic. No, the Bills are the Forrest Gump whose fictional exploits lead him to influence pivotal events of the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s.
There are 32 teams, but the Bills are the most unintentionally influential team of modern times. From the passenger seat, they’ve altered the arc of recent history without actually doing anything extraordinary. An assortment for your viewing pleasure:
For instance, Monday marks one week since Aaron Rodgers ruptured his achilles on Monday Night Football and the reverberations have not been fully fleshed out yet. However, few people outside of upstate New Yorkers will remember Leonard Floyd as the Bills outside linebacker who sacked Aaron Rodgers on the Jets’ fateful fourth play from scrimmage. At so many nexus points in recent NFL history, Buffalo has been in the peripherals of the frame. It’s too early to predict how quickly Rodgers’ injury will create a butterfly effect, but based on Sunday’s result, it’s painfully obvious that eventually, the Jets will desperately reach for an above average quarterback placeholder who can give them a fighting chance this season, and more importantly in the postseason.
In January of 2022, the Bills participated in one of the most electrifying fourth-quarter offensive back-and-forths in NFL playoff annals during the final seconds of their Divisional Round matchup against Kansas City. Ultimately, Travis Kelce’s overtime touchdown catch prompted an overhaul of playoff overtime rules in favor of ones that would have given the Bills a chance to match Kansas City’s offensive score.
In Week 3 of the 2022 season, Tua Tagovailloa’s head bounced off the turf leading him to wobble off the field. Tagovailoa attributed his stumble to the sideline on his back. Days later, on Thursday Night Football Tagovailoa’s head dribbled off the turf a second time, causing him to involuntarily tense up into a fencing response, which led to enhanced concussion protocols. That’s not quite as glamorous as teaching Elvis to dance, but the chain reaction of events Buffalo set in motion is significant enough.
It doesn’t take six degrees to identify the roles Buffalo’s trainers played in saving Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s life as he sprawled out motionless on the field. Hamlin collapsing and the 15 minutes when medics performed life-saving medical procedures to resuscitate him was the most traumatic NFL experience on national television since Lawrence Taylor accidentally snapped Joe Theismann’s tibia and fibula on November 18, 1985.
The last time the collective NFL world watched with bated breath while someone’s mortality swung in the balance was 16 years earlier when Bills tight end Kevin Everett‘s life was saved on the field. After Hamlin was released from a lengthy hospital stay, the status of his health became fodder for some of the most unhinged corners of the internet–aka the App Formerly Known as Twitter.
In a more trivial development, the Minnesota Vikings shattered Buffalo’s nearly 30-year-old record for the largest comeback in NFL history during Week 15 against Indianapolis. But that pales in comparison to how the ills sale impacted the world stage.
About a year before he launched his presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s bid to purchase the Buffalo Bills blew up as a consequence of his falsified financial records. Had Trump been approved to purchase the Bills, there’s a real possibility his corruption could have been contained to the NFL. The world’s axis may have swung on the NFL’s decision to sell the franchise to Terry Pegula instead of a high-profile grifting billionaire. If we had access to a time machine, it would be the easiest trolley problem involving such a high-stakes dilemma this side of the 21st century. Sacrificing the Bills to serve the greater good would be an easy choice. The arc of the universe is long and it bends towards jest.
When the Buffalo Bills make a football play or a football personnel decision, a hurricane forms in the Atlantic. Even a text message from Bill Belichick intended for Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll changes how the entire league does business.
Three days before Brian Flores’ interview for the New York Giants head coaching job, Bill Belichick congratulated him for his impending announcement as the next Big blue head coach in a text that read, “I hear from Buffalo & NYG that you are the guy.” Moments later, Belichick realized homes texted the wrong Brian and awkwardly texted back, “Sorry – I fucked this up. I double checked and misread the text. I think they are naming Brian Daboll. I’m sorry about that. BB.”
It doesn’t matter if Belichick was being Machiavellian by throwing the Giants under the bus and accidentally ensnaring the Miami Dolphins. Belichick’s accidental text to Flores instead of the Bills’ Daboll is the opening paragraph in the former’s class-action discrimination lawsuit against the NFL. The Dolphins even lost a first-round pick as a result of the investigation that sprouted from Flores accusing Dolphins owner Stephen Ross of asking him to recruit Tom Brady, while he was still under contract with Tampa Bay.
Former NFL Network reporter Jim Trotter’s lawsuit features excerpts of damning comments allegedly made by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Pegula.
For better or for worse, the Buffalo Bills are movers and shakers. They may not start it, but Buffalo is always in the middle of something.
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