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The Greatest Story Ever Told

This Sunday morning, in Rochester, New York, I woke to the windswept scene pictured above, just outside my front door. The withered citronella weeping west towards our Buffalo Bills flag, ripped from its upper moorings by the Winter wind, felt like a fitting tableau: The scene matched the whirlwind we Buffalo Bills fans have been through.

I came inside, and started typing to a random playlist, and while composing these lines, the algorithm happened to spin "Without Mythologies", by The Weakerthans. Fittingly, as the tune fades out Jonathan K. Sampson repeats, like a bone-chillingly cold Orchard Park litany: "A harsh wind."

I ask myself: What's colder than an Orchard Park snow squall? And blown back in my face is the term we've tiptoed around all season long: Narrative. Back in warmer months, when the Bills were teetering on the precipice of a losing record, I doubt many would have put cold, hard cash on us making the playoffs; much less vaulting over the golden-rimmed spectacles of the AFCE's 2nd-tier McD, into the division's driver's seat. The message boards overflowed with calls: "Bring me the head of McDermott!" The pitchforks shone like lightning. The hopeful among us were readying our April draft boards, hoping we may drop some more spots and land a "true number one" wide receiver.

But fortunately for the Buffalo faithful, The NFL had another story in the works: One of a ragged team, down on their injury luck, overcoming both their seemingly insurmountable record and the shiny toys of the league... *COUGH* Miami... *COUGH* Dallas, to retake their throne. It's the overcomer's story that sells seats, drives clicks, and tunes antenna into the stations.

But the NFL's capital-N Narrative wasn't done, yet. Far from it: The 2023/24 Buffalo Bills--if we are to truly ascend; if we are to put cleat-to-paper, and write the entire Narrative--we have more hills to climb. Warren Sharp put it into perspective in the following two tweets:

If you're tracking the math, we have been given a 3 day rest DISADVANTAGE. I know that sounds bad enough, but it's not just the fact that we have another hill to climb in a season punctuated by countless moguls; it's that NO OTHER #2 SEEC TEAM IN NFL PLAYOFF HISTORY has been handed such a disadvantage.

None. Nada. Zero. Zilch.

To overcome never-seen-before odds like that... Well, that takes something different. That takes someTEAM different. People toss around the term "Unprecedented," like champagne on New Year's Eve, but what The 2023/24 Buffalo Bills are up against is truly, in all senses of the term, unprecedented.

And what does it take to overcome unprecedented odds?

I'll tell you what: Greatness. True greatness.

I know the message boards are literally screaming in 1's and 0's that we are being cheated out of rest, but isn't that precisely what the NFL Narrative wants? Look: Nobody knows if the Bills will win the Super Bowl this year, but IF we do, will it not be The Greatest Story Ever Told? Okay, yeah, you got me: That's one of my favorite records of all time, but I'm saying that I feel the NFL actually Billeves we can overcome these odds. I think they know that this is a truly great team! If nothing else, they have set us up; they've sharpened our quills and uncorked the ink bottles. The parchment rests, unrolled, before us.

Let's write this damn story. Let's make it not just a good one... Nah, I'm not here for that. Let's write the greatest story ever told!

Go Bills!

--Tim Avery - 1/14/2024

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