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AUGUST 05 - AUGUST 13, 2014

Bills' Talk Still Centers on Bidding War as Team Opens With a Loss

By Tony Farina

August 05, 2014

Four men vie for the Bills: (clockwise from top left) Jon Bon Jovi, Donald Trump, Tom Golisano and Terry Pagula.

Despite all the news off the field, the Buffalo Bills have started playing on the field once again, and unfortunately they opened with a loss to the Giants in the Hall of Fame Game on Sunday night in Canton, 17 – 13, before a national audience.

Fortunately, most of the talk about the Bills is about the ownership contest, and that's probably a good thing for this young team as it searches for an identity as names like Pegula, Bon Jovi, Trump, and perhaps Golisano are the talk of the football world, at least for the moment, as they compete to buy the team with even Bon Jovi—the lead figure of a Toronto group--- saying he'll keep the team right here if here wins the bidding war.

But while it was a preseason game, the 2014 Buffalo Bills started the year with a loss and second-year franchise quarterback E. J. Manuel still looks like he's a rookie, although he didn't play much in the opener. But the fact is he wasn't impressive and that's a concern.

The good news is that Coach Doug Marrone seems to have his head in the right place as he said after the loss: "We had an opportunity to win a game and we didn't. That's the one thing we've got to do. We've got to win football games. So I'm glad we have five preseason games. I'm glad we have some time to get better."

Marrone's got it right. No matter what happens with the bidding war off the field, the focus has to be on trying to be a better team on the field and avoid becoming become the worst team in the history of the NFL as they start to move within sight of the all-time record held by the New Orleans Saints of 17 straight years missing the playoffs. For the record, the Bills haven't made the post season in the 21st Century.

The Bills' worth is pegged at $870 million by Forbes, but it seems the new owner will pay a lot more for this losing team because it still makes a lot of money and, let's face it, the new owner will join an elite group of millionaires who mostly enjoy the notoriety that comes with the ownership of a professional sports team, even a losing one in the snow belt.

Wouldn't it be a great story for a new owner to come in and build a winning franchise! Imagine how that would be, if you can, after all these years of languishing at the bottom of the pack. If Wilson was a hero to Bills fans for keeping the team here, how would the fans treat an owner who wants to win! Somebody or some group ready to make winning a priority, an owner not willing to settle for anything less than a Super Bowl championship.

Terry Pegula, Mr. Megabucks who owns the Sabres, may be the lead bidder so far, although nobody is sure the numbers that have come out are accurate. But his ownership record with the hockey team is not very impressive to say the least. Trump is mostly a windbag who likes his name in lights, and I don't think too many people are taking his interest in buying the Bills very seriously although he is a bidder. Rocker Jon Bon Jovi, who said in a letter to the Buffalo News that his group would build a "state-of-the-art stadium for the loyal Bills fans" and keep the team in Western New York, looks like a player. As for Golisano, he has been pretty quiet lately but the New York Post reported last week that he will likely submit a bid this week.

Fans are going to have to be patient as the ownership contest plays out, and it could be that the most exciting potential owner is Bon Jovi who comes across as someone who might bring some pizzazz to the Bills front-office huddle and give younger fans a hero they might be able to relate to just a little bit. None of the other bidders looks like they could bring much pizzazz to the party, although maybe they would bring in the right characters to spice up this franchise. For now, let's see how the team develops on the field and hope that somehow Manuel can become the franchise quarterback that this front office envisioned when they drafted him so high. I don't see it yet, but there's still time.





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