Bills 2008 Season Outlook – 10 Things I Think

Man! How long have we waited for this?! Even with the disappointment of the last three games of 2007, I was ready for the season to start in June. Instead, we had to wait until now.

Welcome to 10 Things I Think. It’s a column I write after most Bills games – regular season and playoffs – and occasionally during other times of the year. I go to most home games, and I watch the others in sports bars near my home in Connecticut or, when possible, at home. I try to write without having listened to or read much commentary about the games, so you get what I think about what I saw.

In previous years, 10 Things I Think has appeared on the message board at, and last year it also appeared at This year, I’m happy to post 10 Things at I hope you enjoy it.

Okay, here we go.

1. The plan Marv Levy and his staff put in place when they took over is now completely clear: Clear out the older players and the me-first players, and begin a complete rebuild. Keep the best younger players from the old regime, draft high quality guys, and sign good, young free agents. Do it year after year. Some of the players who had to go were gone in 2006, the rest in 2007.

The 2006 free agency and the draft was a start. The team actually played better than I expected. The Bills made more progress in 2007, but they still had holes. The defensive line needed help, the linebackers were weak or untested, and the receiving corps needed an upgrade.

Now the basic rebuild is done. For the first time in recent memory, the Bills come into the season without glaring holes and with some quality depth. There’s more to be done, of course – young players like McKelvin, Hardy, Posluszny and others still have a lot to learn, and there will be more upgrades during the off-season. But now we have a team that should be able to stay on the field with anyone.

It’s a good time to be a Bills fan.

2. No holes? Well, one: an unplanned hole at left tackle. The Peters saga is perplexing; we probably will never know the entire story. The Bills undoubtedly are weaker across the line without Peters; the important question is “how much weaker?” We’ll begin to find out on Sunday. Walker is a good player, and Chambers has potential. The Bills can’t count on Bell. The best solution is for Peters to report, get game ready and knock some defensive ends on their rear ends.

3. Trent Edwards is the starter. Some fans talked during the off-season about a quarterback competition. Against the Colts JP showed, as he has on occasion in the past, that he has a lot of what it takes to be a starter in the NFL. Still, Dick Jauron has been totally clear that Trent is the starter. He talks as though he’s just waiting to get John Elway back into the lineup. That makes me think that Trent must really have the goods. We’ll see.

4. Marshawn Lynch has been the forgotten man this summer. We haven’t seen much of him, and he isn’t talking. What’s he thinking about? The offensive line. Wouldn’t you?

5. Hardy’s already had a bigger role than I expected early on. He won’t be a star in September, but now I’m looking for him to be a factor early and all season long.

6. 2008 will be a big year for the defense. No one says much about Marcus Stroud, but they all say the same thing: powerful. Poz will be a big upgrade over DiGiorgio in the middle – DiGi had a lot of trouble getting to and controlling his gap last year, and it hurt the Bills. Mitchell, too, will be an upgrade, the corners are solid and eventually McKelvin will assume a bigger role, Simpson’s return will help, and there’s better depth all around. This is a defense that will put pressure on the other team. What it needs is the opportunity to play with a lead. That means that the offense has to move the ball and put points on the board.

7. As good as McGee and Parrish are, McKelvin has to return punts or kickoffs or both. He’s special.

8. As always, takeaways will be the key to the season. One way to get more takeaways is to buy them. The Ball Burglar already is promising to pay more than $100 for every takeaway the Bills get this year. When the Ball Burglar’s bounty goes over $1000 per takeaway, Ralph Wilson Stadium will be louder than ever before. Add your buck or two or five to the Burglar’s bounty at Thanks.

9. The coaches are on the hot seat this season. They have players who can play. The coaches have to give the players the plays, the plans and the opportunities to win.

10. Obviously, the fans are expecting great things. Season ticket sales are up, and there’s a lot of buzz about the Bills. The national media are starting to take notice. Everyone who’s paying attention can tell something’s happening in Western New York. The competition is fierce in the NFL, and the Bills really haven’t been competitive for ten years. Finally, it looks like things have changed. All that’s left is for the Bills to do it on the field.


Show Schedule

Special Episodes of the BBR

You’ve undoubtedly noticed that we’ve been cranking out a good number of “special episodes” here this pre-season. That was planned, and the cool thing is, there are many more planned!

We’ve already recorded and published the episodes featuring Tom Calderone (from VH1, Bills fan, and BBR listener), the Ball Burglars, and Steve Christie. Hope you have enjoyed those as much as we have.

We have some great shows in the queue, including a few we can’t mention just yet (not officially scheduled). But there are two we do have scheduled. We will be putting out two shows during the bye week, featuring Donte Whitner and James Hardy. We contacted Donte through his Team20 Foundation, and connected with Hardy via that route as well. We’ll be talking with Donte (and James) about the work he does through Team20, and other community involvement, and of course… Bills football!

Stay tuned to the website, and our Facebook page, for more updates as they are available.

For the full list of special episodes, check the archive page.


Buffalo Has Legs at Cornerback

The Buffalo Bills are in a situation that many teams, including the AFC Champion Patriots would envy. They have more quality cornerbacks than they know what to do with: Terrence McGee, Jabari Greer, William James, Leodis McKelvin, Ashton Youboty, Reggie Corner, Dustin Fox and Kennard Cox. Only Fox and Cox are likely to see their names on the cut sheet this week although each has made a fairly strong case on Special Teams. Buffalo has a history of keeping strong special teamers, but special teamers lose out to players who can perform on defense. Especially when the six guys ahead on the chart are so good.

They say you never can have enough good corners in the NFL and it really showed in 2007 for the Buffalo Bills. When injuries came the Bills had to go deep into their backup pool and it showed. In the off-season, Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell and Head Coach Dick Jauron made sure that they wouldn’t get caught short handed again by loading up the roster. They added Leodis McKelvin and Reggie Corner in the draft (along with Kennard Cox who will likely be on the Practice Squad) and picked up William James in free agency. Seeing the writing on the walls, Jabari Greer and Ashton Youboty have really stepped it up in camp. Greer is building on what turned out to be a breakout campaign in 2007, but since he came from obscurity he still has something to prove. Youboty has mostly disappointed coming into 2008 but has looked great in the preseason.

All six of these players are talented and it showed last night when the Bills Defense made a mockery of Indianapolis’s 3rd and 4th string quarterbacks when Jim Sorgi showed up limping to the game. Given the situation you would expect the Bills defense to force some turnovers, but the Bills came up with 5. Youboty and Corner are clearly number 5 and 6 in the Bills’ current lineup but each came up with athletic, leaping interceptions. Making huge plays when the coaches are thinking about possibly cutting you is a good thing! Leodis McKelvin made a few dramatic leaps to break up passes, but most impressively boxed out the Indianapolis receiver on a deep route that made the commentators “ooh and ahh”. He was in perfect position to make it impossible for the receiver to make a play on the ball. A less intelligent player would have just run deep and tried to swat at the ball at the last moment.

These corners have hands. Terrence McGee also made a nice play scooping up a fumble recovery and taking off with it, and nobody can catch McGee. Opponents will not want to throw against these guys. They will be cutting off routes and leaping in front of receivers. This defense will be exciting to watch. Especially considering the team has great depth at safety and linebacker also. With Marcus Stroud making a mess up at the line this could really be a top 10 defense. An injury to stroud is probably the only spot where the depth is not strong enough to endure the loss and it would be devastating.

So what do the Bills do? They can’t carry 6 corners on the roster can they? I say they can and do. Both McGee and Leodis McKelvin will be returning kicks as well and Corner and Youboty will find plenty of work on special teams. The Bills will not have as many “special teamers” on the roster this year. In fact they have already cut most of the guys that fit that description. Overall its a sign of improvement on the team. Hey its only preseason, but if you consider that the Redskins were playing their 2nd preseason game to the Bills 1st (a big advantage) and the Bills Defense has smothered Pittsburgh and Indianapolis who both have strong teams, the Bills are looking pretty good. Its only the preseason, but its better to look good in the preseason than bad. Its never bad to play well, and the Bills defense is playing well. If its totally meaningless, why did the Indianapolis players look so agitated towards the end of the game? Because the Bills routed them good and a route always hurts.

Current Bills Pre-Season

Buffalo Bills: The Real Deal

OK folks, before you think I’ve gone off the deep end, I am completely aware that the three “games” we have seen our Bills play in this fledgling 2008 season have all been pre-season games. I realize that not only do we not see the best players and play books that our team has, we also see more (or less) of the same from the opponent. It’s really very hard to make any sort of judgments about a team from pre-season.

But I don’t believe that’s what I am doing.

I believe I have said for quite a while now that between the massive pruning that Jauron and Co. have done since the start of their tenure with the Bills, to the great – and key – additions they have made through mainly drafts, and a few very good free agent signings…

This really could be the Bills year!

The pre-season contests we have seen have simply confirmed what I have been seeing through flashes in recent years, reading in various articles and on-site reports, and seen through OTAs and training camp. (Save, of course, the lackluster Washington game where the Bills did not look like they got the memo that it was a live game.)

Tonight the Bills disposed of the Indianapolis Colts (first game in their brand new stadium) fairly easily, posting a 20-7 victory. The end result is almost meaningless in pre-season contests, but the way they got there is not.

Consider that the Bills were 10 of 18 on third down conversion. TEN of EIGHTEEN. First, they got eighteen chances to convert on third downs, that’s rather impressive for a notoriously anemic Bills offense. But then, they converted on ten of them! And some were long conversions! The Bills kept drives alive (especially the first team guys, who really included several second team guys – including the QB) and they finished drives, scoring points on drives of 13 and 18 plays in the first half.

Also, this Bills defense is not only talented, but aggressive. The first play of the game for the Colts ended in a big sack by multiple Bills defenders. And they kept coming. That forced several turnovers from a usually sure-handed Colts offense.

On offense, defense, and special teams … this Bills team has so many pieces in place. They will be a challenge for any team who plays them this year.

Add to the great plays by the players the refreshingly innovative play calling, and this team really stands a chance to have a much better than average year – perhaps culminating in long-awaited return to the playoffs.

Again, it’s just pre-season. And things are not all sunshine and lollipops for the Bills. Langston Walker left the game in the second quarter with an injury to his left forearm. X-Rays at half-time were negative, but more will be known on that injury in the days to come. That left the Bills with 7th round draft pick, Demetrius Bell to occupy arguably the most important position on the offensive line. Not good.

Starting QB Trent Edwards could have benefitted greatly from playing in this game with the starting unit for an entire half. The third game of the pre-season is often looked on as the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season, but Edwards’ thigh injury was not healed enough for the Bills to take the chance of having him play on it.

But all that did was allow the backups to shine.

Turk Schonert’s offense definitely utilizes the strengths of these players much more effectively. The offense spread the field more, opening great running lanes for Lynch and Jackson. Josh Reed looked like a star, making many grabs in the opening quarter. Even J.P. Losman looked more than competent under center. Xavier Omon had a decent showing as well.

One thing that stands out on this Bills team is that there is a decent amount of depth. Some is still a bit raw, but there are definitely second and third-stringers who will be making a contribution to the success of the team this season. Definitely.

Jason who?

There is one more pre-season contest to play. That will determine the last several slots on the 53-man roster. Should really be interesting to see who makes the cut this year.

Whoever they will be, the 53 men who will represent the Bills this year will have the best chance of making the playoffs -and doing well in the playoffs – that a Buffalo team has had in a very, very long time.


Jason Peters

Do we need Jason Peters to make the playoffs?

Earlier I thought no way we make the playoffs without Peters. After the Pittsburgh game I started thinking we might not actually need him. We will see week one of the season for sure. If the o-line plays well without him, then Peters is disposable. Too bad he is a great player.
Nice knowing you Jason… enjoy hibernation!
Current Bills Players

J.P. = Just Problems?

What is it with the initials J.P.? The Bills currently have two players with those initials on their roster, and in many ways, both are “Just Problems”.

The obvious problem is Jason Peters. Peters managed to go for the entirety of training camp without reporting, but, perhaps even worse, not communicating with the Bills. (At least, according to all public reports.) I really think there must be more to the story than we know, because how can any intelligent negotiator think that this is a good strategy? Peters is under contract (for three more years!) and has, in my opinion, tossed any leverage he had right out the window by not showing that he is committed to the Buffalo Bills team and organization.

Bad move #1 by J.P.

Now there is another Bills player who is more commonly known by the initials, J.P. That of course is our beloved (now backup) quarterback, Jonathan Paul Losman. Losman decided to speak to the press following Tuesday night’s practice this week, which may have been a mistake. He had been publicly silent since after the Jacksonville game last season (his last as a starter) and apparently, judging by his comments Tuesday night, that was a wise move.

The full-bearded QB was pretty forthright in his comments, for which he should be commended, but unfortunately, those comments revealed the real problem with this J.P. – he is not (at least yet) a “professional” athlete.

What we heard from QB J.P. was that he is doing the team a favor by being here, and practicing hard. We heard that it’s “hard to get motivated” (apparently because he’s not the starter) and that he has to think “overall big picture.” It is obvious from his comments that he does not plan to be with the Bills next season. (And realistically, I don’t think the Bills plan for to be here either.)

The professional athlete would not find it difficult to be motivated. The motivation should not come from some given or earned position, but rather just to do your best, and contribute to the team. There’s no need for any other motivation. The man is being paid millions of dollars to be ever-ready to jump in and lead the team. He is still (as of now) the second quarterback on the team, which is actually a very important position, both in practice and in the game should there be an injury to Edwards.

A professional athlete is motivated by his own drive to be the best he can be. Period.

Bad move #2 by J.P.

Message to all Bills bearing the initials J.P.:
Football is a TEAM game. You are not the team, nor are you even the focus of the team. The team will go on without you. Your apparent lack of understanding may be jeopardizing any career you hoped to have in the NFL.

I really hope that the Bills do not have to rely on the QB J.P. this season for any length of time. His comments betrayed his “overall” attitude. And that’s unfortunate. I really do like the kid. I think he is also really talented. But he doesn’t get it.

I am also (mayeb, was also) a fan of our LT J.P. He is a great story, seems like a good kid, and I was rooting for him. I guess my sub-conscious deadline was the end of training camp. Now that it has passed with seemingly no effort on the part of Peters at all to honor his contract and put the pressure on the Bills to make the next (first) move… I have lost tons, or possibly all respect for him. I am afraid that might be true of the Bills, too.

I am not certain what effect the players named J.P. will have on this 2008 Bills team, but I would caution the front office to think twice in the future about drafting or signing any players bearing those initials.

They do seem to stand for, “Just Problems.”

Coaching Staff Games Players Pre-Season

Could This Be Jauron’s Second Winning Season?

Dave sent around an email to his BBR cohorts this past weekend upon returning from his vacation, and catching the Bills game on “tape” delay. To my genuine surprise, it was super positive! He even said if Peters comes back that the Bills are a playoff team!

Could it have simply been due to a great vacation, making the world look a bit rosier? Or could the Bills really be such a good team that even The Drake can see the upside?

I’m going with the latter!

I was (along with every Bills fan I’ve heard or read) quite impressed with the first team offense and defense. We mixed up the play calls, even opening with several passes that stretched the defense and opened up the running game. We had long sustained drives (even a 90 yarder!) that included converting third downs, and scoring red-zone TDs. We even had TEs catching TDs!

And the defense certainly held their own against a talented Pittsburgh offense. Their first score was really against our second-string guys. The first teamers got an INT, and held them to a punt, and were pitching a shut out!

Do I need to mention Leodis McKelvin? This guy looked fantastic before he returned that kickoff 95 yards for his first (unofficial) NFL TD!

Right now, exclamation points abound for hopeful, excited Bills fans. Our team could really be good this year!

One major positive aside from the great play of the starters is the quality depth that the Bills have assembled. Think about guys like Keith Ellison and John DiGiorgio, George Wilson, Ashton Youboty, Will James and even Leodis McKelvin. Our D-line includes rotation guys like (right now) John McCargo, Spencer Johson and Ryan Denney. And on offense, Dwayne Wright and Xavier Omon are pretty decent third and fourth string RBs!

Dick Jauron, Head Coach Buffalo BillsThe biggest question for this team is perhaps its head coach. I personally think Dick Jauron has done a fantastic job turning around this team in turmoil. Now it is a team with great potential. Moving Schonert to Offensive Coordinator looks like it may be a huge help, as well. The issue is not his personnel moves, it’s his record. He has only had ONE winning season. Ever.

Let’s hope (based on the team on paper, and what we saw from the starting units last week) that this is the year he gets his second winning season!

Games Pre-Season

Buffalo Bills Offense… Boring?

Well the first pre-season game has come and gone, and does it perhaps tell you something when this BIG Bills Fan actually fell asleep at the end of a 3-point contest? Well, no, it probably doesn’t. It’s just been a long week. But honestly last night I did think of and use the word “boring” a couple times, as did a reluctant Steve Tasker who was calling the game.

Bills fans may have had expectations set a bit too high for this young offense, in the first game of the pre-season, against a team who had already gotten a pre-season game under their belt, but I did not expect boring.

We all know the outcome of the game is meaningless, and that coaches certainly do not come out with their best players nor their best playbooks, but might we have gone a bit too far when the first word that came to mind for this avid Bills supporter is “BORING”?

I believe I have made my point. But, let’s look at some of the good things that happened before we rehash all that was “boring” (and worse) last night.

The Good

Leodis McKelvin
Hooooey! This guy is going to be exciting to watch! He looked a little silly on a couple defensive plays (overcommitting, out of position, etc) but on the return game, he looked right in his element. He brought one punt return back nearly all the way, except for a hustling big guy tripping him up. We already have McGee and Parrish… McKelvin is going to make our return game just that much more dangerous. (And potentially productive on the score board!) Now Roscoe is just going to change his name to McParrish…

Roscoe Parrish
Speaking of Roscoe… did anybody notice that he was way more noticeable as a receiver than a return guy last night? He was making many catches, and big catches, and looking like much more than a “4th” wide receiver! That is definitely one position where the Bills are not lacking. Good on ya, McParrish!

James Hardy
And, speaking of the receiver corps… for the rookie, it was the best of times… it was the worst of times. Hardy went from miscommunications with Edwards (on a 3rd down play near the goal line), to a bad drop on a pass from Losman, to catching a TD on the fade route – which everyone anticipates he will continue to do in the regular season – to bring the Bills within two points of tying the game. He looked great on that play, and coach Jauron had very good things to say about Hardy and his ability and his work ethic in a half-time interview… I can’t wait to see what he can do for this team in the regular season, rookie mistakes and all.

Paul Posluszny was back, and overall (though he didn’t play much) looked like the tackling machine that he was through week three last season. He was in on most plays, and often made the tackle (ended with 3 solo tackles, including one for a loss). Poz was bowled over by Redskins RB Clinton Portis on a 4th and Goal play, but he got his hat in there on the guy… just couldn’t stop the momentum that time. Nice to see Poz back at it!

Ashton Youboty
Really, I can’t believe I am writing that. Youboty has been mostly inconspicuous over his first two seasons here with the Bills, though much more was expected of him. Last night (although only pre-season) he showed that “much more”. He was in on many plays, including an interception, which he lateraled to his DB buddy, Reggie Corner, who took it a bit farther up the field. Youboty got plenty of playing time, and was making (noticeable) plays all over the field. That gets another “Good on ya!” from BBR-Greg!

JP Losman!
In pre-season, almost inevitably the back-up and often the third string guys can look much better than the starters. Most people credit that to the level of their competition (they are facing third stringers from the other team) but there is something to it. Edwards definitely looked better than Losman overall in the pre-season last year, and it carried over to the regular season. Well, the opposite was true last night as JP played the second quarter and a bit into the third (I believe…) and he had brought the Bills back to tie the game on the nice TD pass to James Hardy, as well as the two-point conversion pass to Justin Jenkins. Don’t read too much into it, though. Perhaps the most telling play was when JP stood in the pocket and took a sack… showing a bit of the indecision we have come to know from Losman.

In Losman’s defense, that two-point conversion was beautifully designed for him with a bit of a roll out to it. JP is wishing he had Schonert and Hardy a year or two ago…

And Now, The Bad

The Offense
Really, the starting offense looked the worst, but it was everyone. They were very sloppy, making many mental errors (false starts, bad formations, etc.) They did not look like they knew what they were doing at times, with all of the pre-snap motion seeming to confuse the offense as much as the defense. Obviously Trent Edwards going 1-5 for 18 yards is pretty … abysmal. It was a very nice completion, but you gotta get more than that from your starting QB, and your starting offense. This will HAVE to be improved by Thursday, when the Bills play Pittsburgh in Toronto. I would expect to see the starters out there for much longer than you did in this first game.

The Defensive Play Calling
The Redskins rookie coach and his staff seemed to have our number. They ran a draw play (or some version of it) that helped rack up 155 yards on the ground. The Bills really could not stop it. Their over-aggressive play calls wound up having several Bills trapped back up field while that left plenty of blockers to pick off our LBs and DBs, leaving a clear path for the RB to gain 10 yards or so. Not a good plan, and moreover, not good adjusting to the plan. Must improve this.

Jason Peters
Can someone tell me where Jason Peters is? Has anyone talked to him? Does he know he is not only hurting his own stock with the Bills, but he is hurting his chances of playing with a decent team… so long as he joins them. The O-line was hurting without Peters in there. Guys playing positions they don’t usually play, and not playing them that well. Peters needs to report to camp or I think the Bills should just sit on his contract. Keep him out of the league for three years. This is not the best way to negotiate, Mr. Peters.

No Foot
OK, so this is minor.. but, with time running down, No Foot had a chance to tie the game and he missed… badly. What’s up with that? All kickers have to do in the pre-season is kick. And sit there. I guess he has done too much of the latter. Get out there and loosen up that leg, Lindell! You rock… but… that’s your one miss for the year. 😉


A very unimpressive debut for the Bills. Thankfully they can put that one to bed very quickly as they play in a few short days up in Toronto, Canada. The first of the eight games to be played there over the next five years. Will be watching to see if the offense has tightened things up, and if the defense can adjust to whatever game plan the Steelers bring to town.

Loving that Bills football is back!
Go Bills!

AFC East News NFL Players


Brett Favre is now a JETWhen I first heard the possibility of Brett Favre being traded to the Jets, I actually thought that was a very good fit. The team is similar in a lot of ways to the Green Bay team he played with last season. Very young, unproven talent… good potential. Maybe now that he really has been traded to NY, he can take the Jets to the next level?

Wouldn’t it be interesting if all of a sudden, the up-and-coming Bills and the Favre-powered Jets were not only competing with the dominant division leader, New England, but actually ended up 1-2 in the standings at the end of 2008? If Favre can play like he did last year, I don’t think it’s that far fetched. The games against the Jets are just a bit harder for the Bills now.

Will be interesting to see how Brett does in another jersey. (Best headline, from New Jersey For Favre. Ha! … the “NY” Jets play in the state of New Jersey…) 🙂 It won’t feel right at first, but will definitely add to the competition in the AFC East. Jets face the Bills first in 2008 on Nov 2nd, in Buffalo. I’ve mentally circled the date.

Welcome to the AFC East, Brett!


Special Guests at the Apple Store

All kinds of people come into the Apple store. I get to meet and talk with people of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities. That’s a pretty fun part of the job, actually.

A couple days ago, I got to meet a few guys that were even more fun to chat with, being a long-time (big) Buffalo Bills fan.

I was working in the iPhone section, and a couple guys came up to check out the phones. One of them was studying it, so I offered to answer any questions, and began chatting with him.

The weird thing was, his friend looked a LOT like Ashton Youboty from the Buffalo Bills. I took a couple glances, but kept thinking, “Nah… he’s too young… too small. But it sure looks like him… Maybe a brother?”

As I was talking with Ashton-look-a-like’s friend, another guy from the store came up and said, “So you guys from Ohio State?” They were both wearing OSU garb, so it was a valid question. The guy is a Purdue grad, so it was a Big Ten thing… I didn’t bring up my MSU affiliation, as I was trying to be helpful with the iPhone, not play on long-standing college rivalries, which are an important part of life amongst Big Ten schools… 🙂

The guy who was checking out the iPhone said they did attend OSU, and they played football there. That of course intrigued me, as I knew that Ashton Youboty played football at OSU. Now I was pretty certain this was Ashton’s brother or something. Well, as I was going to ask, he left to go check out something else, but I asked his friend… and sure enough, it WAS Youboty, and the guy checking out the iPhone was another young Bills player, Dustin Fox!

After he revealed his “secret identity” I paused for a moment, then said, “I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but… I just… thought you’d be bigger.”

He laughed and said, somewhat sheepishly, “Everybody does…”

We chatted a bit. Dustin said he’s the “team techie” and I showed him around to a few other toys in the store. They left and I was glad to have gotten to meet two of the (well, really just one) Buffalo Bills!

But the night was not over.

Much later in the night, I looked up at the big board that shows the names of people with appointments at the Genius bar, where we offer tech support on our products. One of the names on the board was Ashton Y. Now… there could be another person named Ashton. And perhaps even another Ashton with a last name starting with the letter Y. But, the likelihood of Ashton Youboty and this other potential Ashton Y. being in the same Apple store on the same night… not very likely. 🙂

So, apparently, Ashton was coming back.

And indeed… not long before closing time, Ashton (but not Dustin) and maybe four other friends strolled into the store. I was still manning the iPhone station, so I greeted them and helped one guy out, giving him an overview of what the iPhone does. Since they all came in together, I figured they were all Bills players, but honestly, I did not recognize any of them. Except Ashton, who was sitting at the Genius bar, getting some help from the Geniuses.

Well, as we were finishing up (it was just about closing time) the store cleared out – except for our Buffalo Bills friends – and I was no longer needing to stay at my station, so… I went over and introduced myself to Ashton. (Who, at this point, was just sitting at the Genius bar, waiting for something.)

“So, you’re Ashton Youboty,” I began. He nodded. “I just wanted to come say hello. I’m a big Bills fan, and your friend Dustin said you who you were when you guys were in here before.” I told him the story of how I thought they’d be bigger, and he said, “Man, I am bigger. I’m fat! The coaches want me to lose weight!” Then he added with emphasis, “It’s hard to lose weight!” Ha! He didn’t look like he needed to, but I’m sure his coaches know what they’re talking about. 🙂

After wrapping up a few other things, I had a moment to say hello to the other guys. I made sure that there were not other customers in the store, and that they (the Bills players) were not busy being Apple customers, and I finally got to say hello.

“So are you guys all Bills players?” I asked.

“Yeah.” (Their unified, hushed reply was a little less forthcoming than I had hoped…)

“Well, I have two boys at home, and they will want to know who I got to meet tonight, so… what are your names?”

The guy immediately to my right said, “Jabari.” I actually didn’t quite hear him, so I asked him to repeat and when I understood him that time I said, “Jabari Greer! Nice to meet you.” Ashton was next to Jabari, and then we went around the circle of guys and they all introduced themselves as I shook their hands.


“Reggie….” I said in a leading tone.

“Corner.” He smiled when he said it. Some of these guys are not really that outgoing… 🙂

Reggie Corner! Nice to meet you.” (It really was. This was fun!)

We got to the last guy around the half circle, who said, “Jon Corto.” I heard him just fine, but I asked him to repeat it, because I had never heard of Jon Corto, and I know my Bills! So I probed a bit further, asking what position he played, and where he was from… still no luck.

As I was probing, Jabari said, “Well, tell us who you are!” So, I laughed and introduced myself. “My name’s Greg… Campbell. Actually, I have a Bills show…”

“Really?!” said Jabari, “Here in Rochester?”

I explained the Buffalo Bills Review, and actually, I thought I remembered that Jabari had been in the running for – or possibly won – an award from our show this past season, but that turned out to not be true. I did let him know that though, and he said, “I’m gonna have to check that out!”

In explaining the show, I mentioned that I grew up in Buffalo, and that’s how I became a big Bills fan. That’s when Jon asked where I was from in Buffalo. Turns out he is from Orchard Park – where the Bills play! So I talked with him a bit about that, how cool it is that he is from there and now playing for the Bills! Kinda living vicariously through that for a moment… 🙂

They didn’t stay much longer, but it was very cool to meet them all and chat a bit about Bills football, even the Buffalo Bills Review. When I started working at the Apple Store, never imagined that I’d get to meet five Buffalo Bills in one night! Was definitely a fun experience.

Wonder who will be coming in today?