“No one wants to play in Buffalo.” This was a common refrain during the not-so-good years of this franchise. “It’s too cold.” “It’s not a big market.” “The team is not good.” These were just some of the things people would say about Buffalo and the Bills; things we Bills fans hated to hear. During this time, you had to overpay free agents to come to Buffalo. However, as Bob Dylan says, “the times they are a changing”. I believe, as a result of the 2020 season, those sentiments have ended and a new dialogue has emerged.
These player and agent attitudes have shifted because we have a winning team; a team that’s on a verge of being annual contenders. I have always said, “If you win, they will come.” (“They” being those players that we thought wouldn’t think about playing for the Bills.)
Look, I live in Edmonton and they get the same kind of stuff when it comes to hockey players. Both are cold, blue-collar cities that make up two of the smallest markets in their sports. So I understand how the people of Buffalo feel. Yet there is something very similar about them right now. Each franchise in those cities has franchise players, be it Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on the Oilers, Jack Eichel on the Sabers, or our very own Josh Allen on the Bills.
These kinds of players attract other great players who come in with the hopes of contending. The best example of this is Taylor Hall, an MVP-caliber hockey player who signed with the Sabres as a free agent. Why would he sign with Buffalo? To play with another franchise player, Jack Eichel.
The same thing applies now to the Bills. You have a franchise quarterback in Josh Allen, whose presence can attract free agents. They may look at the Bills, what Allen did last year, and decide to sign with Buffalo because they think they can get over the hump and win the Super Bowl. While all players want money, the ultimate goal is to win the big prize.
When was the last time you heard a free agent like J.J. Watt had interest in joining the Bills? Even though he didn’t end up in Buffalo, fans can take pride in the fact their team was in the final conversation. And it’s about time. Now, big-name veterans will look at Buffalo and see a winning team on the brink of greatness and, possibly, lower their price just for a chance at glory.
It does not matter what the city is like, or what stadium they play in. It’s about the product on the field. What matters is whether your team can contend and who they can afford under the flat cap. Get ready for every free agent to be connected to the Bills for the foreseeable future. Enjoy it Bills fans. Remember, it is not about the city of Buffalo. It’s all about winning.
If you win, they will come!