This is a great article and a must read for all Bills fans…
The Bills released their 2008 schedule today, and it includes another home game on Monday Night Football! The game against the Cowboys last season went over quite well, so that is no surprise that we would get another chance at the national stage (at The Ralph). And the game against Cleveland is one of the most anticipated of the season.
The Bills will open at home again this year, against the Seattle Seahawks on September 7th. That’s a 1:00pm game. There are four games scheduled for the 4:00 time slot. Three are road games, and the fourth is the “home” game at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.
Miami will be the opponent for the Bills first ever regular season game north of the border. A bit of a surprise, as most thought the league would schedule one of the non-conference home games for the Toronto game. (I thought I remembered Ralph Wilson saying as much.) That game will be Sunday December 7th, and takes all the fun out of a Miami home game in December! (Isn’t the Rogers Centre a dome??)
Interestingly, the Bills will finish the season at home on December 28th against the New England Patriots. The first meeting between the two teams (in Foxboro, MA) doesn’t happen until November 9th. With three of the final four games being against division opponents, that last game against New England could potentially have a big impact on the playoff picture.
A Bills fan can dream… 🙂
The bye week comes after week five, so a tad on the early side. Three of the first five games are against NFC opponents: Seattle, St. Louis, and Arizona. The first division game will be October 26th, at Miami. That is the beginning of a three game stretch against the AFC East: home against New York, then at the Patriots.
The final six weeks of the NFL season are subject to the flex scheduling, so any of those games could be flexed to the Sunday night game. That includes the game against Miami in Toronto. Depending on the competitiveness of the game at that point in the season, that’s certainly a possibility.
It looks like a well laid out schedule at first glance. I always love this day… and hate it. Love seeing the schedule. It’s exciting. HATE that it’s still five months away!
But this time will pass quickly, and before you know it, we’ll be at The Ralph, cheering on our BUFFALO BILLS!!
Get your tickets now, and GO BILLS!!
According to Chris Brown, and his Toronto sources, interest in the upcoming Buffalo Bills games in Toronto is over 100,000 people! Wow! So hopefully this is a great move for the Bills, not only to get a larger fan base (who presumably will trek across the border to enjoy some (CHEAPER!) games at The Ralph, as well as buy lots of Bills merchandise, and other support like that… but it seems the Bills could stand to get some good revenue from these 8 games in Toronto.
If initial interest is any indication, I’d say we’ll be seeing Bills games in Toronto well beyond the current five-year deal with the Rogers Centre. 🙂
Emotions are all over the map in Western New York these days. A few are excited by the five-year plan that will have the Buffalo Bills playing three pre-season and five regular season games in Toronto, Canada. More seem to be near paranoid that this signals the end of the nearly fifty years of Bills football in Western New York.
And who can blame them? The Buffalo Bills message boards are replete with frustrated fans following not only each move of the plan named the “Toronto Initiative”, but all of the comments made by the aging Bills’ owner, Ralph Wilson.
“I can’t speculate what’s going to happen in the future. But don’t worry. Don’t worry right now,” Wilson said at last week’s press conference in Toronto. This comment, among others, (including Wilson referring to this “Initiative” as a “trial basis”) has led many Bills fans and media pundits to speculate on the Bills future.
With the end of the current 15-year lease of Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY coinciding with the end of this “trial” in Toronto, there are many reasons to speculate that the team could well end up north of the Border by 2013. Or even sooner, if Wilson were to die before that time is up, as he has publicly stated that the team will be sold to the highest bidder following his death.
But a closer look at who is saying what reveals that there is much more to be hopeful about for Western New Yorkers. More positive than negative regarding this Toronto Initiative.
First there are comments from the Buffalo Bills themselves. Wilson has repeatedly said – including most of his comments from last week’s press conference – that his intention all along has been to keep this team in Buffalo. “We’ve always been on record saying we were going to try to regionalize our brand north of the border,” said Bills new Chief Operating Officer Russ Brandon. “We think this is another step in keeping our franchise financially viable in the Buffalo marketplace.”
The Bills have already begun to regionalize the team by moving their annual training camp to St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY. This has been a big success according to the team. Toronto is merely the “next step” as Brandon says.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (a native Western New Yorker) was asked about the Toronto Initiative in a press conference and responded by saying the Bills “very thoughtfully” put this plan together, and carried it out. He has said the NFL is not looking to expand right now, and said the Bills would play a “limited number of games” in Toronto over the next five years. Granted, five years is a long way off, but his words have to be reassuring to Bills fans. (And it can’t hurt that he is a native of the area, and so, a Bills fan!)
Add to these voices the somewhat public rumors that former Bills Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly has designs on buying the Bills when they become available. Kelly is rumored to be building a team of people – including perhaps former Buffalo Bills Thurman Thomas and Steve Tasker, among others – to purchase the Bills following Wilson’s passing.
Western New York billionaire, and current Buffalo Sabres’ owner, Tom Golisano is one potential investor in Jim Kelly’s plan. This past week Golisano was interviewed during a Sabres’ game and said, “If the situation arises, I would do what I can to try to keep the team in the area.” This again buoyed Buffalo fans hopes that this talk of losing the Buffalo Bills was just that. Talk.
In the end, Wilson is right, we can not know what will happen in the future. But it’s also true that worrying about the future doesn’t change anything either. Bills fans can worry that the team will move (I think that has been a fear of Bills fans since I moved to Buffalo back in 1986!) or listen to the voices of the people who really matter. Sports writers can say what they want, and fearful fans can say what they want, but the people who make the decisions are saying the Bills are staying in Western New York.
And, for now, that’s who I’m going to listen to.
Related Article: 10/25/07 (BBR)