Last Sunday’s ceaselessly putrid performance in Tampa — a 27-6 drubbing of the Bills by the Buccaneers, for those with mercifully short memories — did a number of things:
–All but guaranteed that Buffalo’s football season will end before the NFL playoffs begin for the 14th straight season (the general crappiness of the AFC this season means that only the 2-11 Houston Texans have been officially eliminated, but there’s no way we’re doing the mental gymnastics on that).
–Assured that, for the 13th time in that span, the Bills will not finish with a winning record or even, for the 11th time, manage to win even half their games.
As a result of No. 3, above, We Want Marangi will cease even attempting to draw any sort of long-term conclusions from Buffalo’s most recent performance, nor will we try to guess at how they will fare going forward.
At least until Monday.
In the meantime, there is still plenty to discuss. Such as, is it more noble to hope for a victory over the Jaguars that can do absolutely nothing to end a playoff drought that dates to the first week of the 2000s, or to pull for the Bills to lose Sunday, and again at home a week later to Miami, and then again in New England in the season finale?
A season-ending five-game losing streak would finalize Buffalo’s record at 4-12. A look at the standings shows that would make the Bills a much stronger contender for a top-five draft pick in the 2014 draft than they have been for a playoff berth at any point in the last couple months. There are those who find the idea appealing. In some parts, this is known as fantanking.
In other words, thanks to Stevie Johnson’s fumble in Toronto and the entire roster’s sudden inability to play football in Tampa, we get to have the same conversation that has dominated mid- to late-December discussion of the Bills every year but one, the shameful tease that turned out to be 2004, out of the last 14.
We Want Marangi has a few thoughts on the topic, most ofwhich were expressed beyond our capabilities by Deadspin’s Drew Magary (as ever, masterful use of profanity abounds, beginning with the headline).
Read the whole thing, especially if you’re thinking it might be somehow more gratifying to cheer for failure on the next three Sundays, but these three grafs, in particular, nail why it’s such a shitty thing to do:
At its best, your love of a sports team is an unconditional love. You love them when they suck. You love them when they fuck you out of ticket money. You love them when half the defense gets busted hosting an orgy at the local YWCA. And the way that your team pays you back for that love—when they deign to—is by winning, by offering you a fleeting moment of glory in between all that dreck. So you better enjoy those wins when they bother to pick up a few, instead of rooting for them to lose game after game after game just so you can have 15 minutes in the sun while watching the goddamn draft.
Because the more often your team loses, the more likely it is that it will fuck up that draft pick anyway. I’m not gonna dismiss the drama of a three-hour regular season game just so my team will make an even more egregious drafting error. My team—the Vikings—are a franchise that has drafted two All-Pro players (Kevin Williams and Bryant McKinnie) after FORGETTING to draft where they were fucking supposed to. They drafted McKinnie even though they wanted to take Ryan Sims, who turned out to be a huge bust. That’s where fantanking gets you: a higher draft pick that ends up sucking and leading you to more fantanking. Last Sunday’s game was one of three remarkable games featuring teams (Vikings, Browns, Steelers) who were all but out of playoff contention, and those games were only remarkable if you gave a shit.
And trust me: It’s more fun to give a shit, even if the team loses. It’s more fun to maintain the bullshit “sense of duty” to your team, so that you can Lord it over casual fans and become emotionally invested—EXCITED!—by whatever game you happen to be watching. The Super Bowl cannot be the only goal of a fan. You will drive yourself out of your mind if that’s all you care about because most teams don’t win the thing.
If you find the whole topic depressing, read this — a wrenching look at two men who never made it home from the Bills-Dolphins Thursday night game in November 2012 — before kickoff. WWM guarantees an afternoon watching the Bills and Jaguars, no matter how thorough their ineptitude, will be positively uplifting by comparison.