(Photo Courtesy of Mark Mulville/The Buffalo News)
Two lifelong Bills fans react to yesterday’s exciting news…
In reflecting on yesterday’s events, I spent 2 hours staring at a blank computer screen struggling to adequately put my feelings into words. So all that I will say is this:
My first truly vivid memory of the Buffalo Bills was seeing a friend’s father angrily storm out of the house on a January afternoon in 1999. As an 8 year old, I never thought that I would grow up to become as emotionally invested in football as my friend’s father, or that a play like the “Music City Miracle” would come to typify our team for the next 15 years. Whether its the week 17 home loss to Pittsburgh’s backup’s in 2003, Leodis McKelvin’s kickoff fumble against the Patriots on the opening Monday night contest in 2009, or any contest between the Bills and the Browns over the last decade, everybody can point to a specific moment or game that demonstrates the emotional havoc this franchise has wrought on its fans in recent history.
However, September 9, 2014 will now come to represent the start of a new era in the history of the Buffalo Bills and Western New York.
Thank you to Ralph C. Wilson Jr. and his family for everything you did for this city and its fans, both during your long life and after your death. The commitment you showed to this community will forever be a part of your legacy.
Most importantly though, thank you to the Pegula Family for giving Bills fans hope. For the first time in my life, the threat of relocation no longer hangs over this team, and the opportunity to restore a winning tradition seems real.
The focus now will inevitably shift to discussions of a new stadium and regarding certain long-standing members of an organization that has become mired in a culture of losing.
However, this Sunday I invite my fellow Bills fans to leave those discussions for another day. Instead, let us pour one out in remembrance of Mr. Wilson and raise one in honor of the undisputed first family in Buffalo: Mr. Terry & Kim Pegula.
Go Bills – Squish the fish.
The wait is finally over.
After months of intense media speculation, misguided (or often blatantly false) media reporting, and skepticism surrounding the Bills ownership situation, the Mary Wilson-led trust announced today that they had reached an agreement to sell the team to Terry and Kim Pegula. And I couldn’t be happier.
Since longtime owner Ralph Wilson Jr. passed away in March, it’s been difficult to truly decipher who was a legitimate player in the ownership sweepstakes. Donald Trump, in true Donald Trump style, proclaimed himself a contender. Tom Golisano expressed an interest, but then refused to abide by deadlines. Jon Bon Jovi and his Toronto-based partners completely misplayed and fumbled their opportunity to ever truly step to the forefront of the prospective candidates. The one man who remained a constant in the entire process was Terry Pegula.
Unlike his peers, Pegula did everything right over the past several months. While Trump was tweeting out his interest, Pegula was hiring Steve Greenberg, a man who had played vital roles in the sale of nine professional sports franchises. When Golisano decided to publicly leak his interest in partnering with Scott Congel to ridiculously build a stadium in West Seneca, Pegula was selling off land for substantial ($1.75 billion) liquid assets. As Bon Jovi was crafting tone-deaf letters and desperately reaching out to former Bills, Pegula simply kept his mouth shut.
All along, Pegula was the dream owner for me. Despite the media and public outcry that accompanied Pegula’s extended absence from the Buffalo spotlight, I love the man. In three years, Pegula has created an environment that arguably has the Sabres on the verge of a return to prominence. In addition to that, he’s constructed the monstrous HarborCenter, which looks poised to be an economic staple for both natives and incoming tourists. Pegula has show a genuine love and enthusiasm for re-establishing Buffalo as both a legitimate sports town and a desirable city. In three years, he’s done more than any other public figure in my lifetime.
Now that same man takes over our beloved Bills. If his first three years is any indication of his future intent, Pegula will pour both his money and time into re-establishing the Bills as a destination franchise for players, fans, and employees. Although questions may linger in regards to the current on-field product, for the first time since I’ve been a Bills fan I can comfortably root for my team knowing full well that their short term and long term future is bright, and more importantly, secure.