Illustration by Aaron Hadley Dana
Football on Thanksgiving is a tradition that goes back decades, but Bills games on Monday nights are just weird. Not any weirder than the long and vexingly permanent presence of the Lions on Thanksgiving, honestly—that is a very weird thing!—but during the Bills decade-and-change in the wilderness of mediocrity, the idea of turning to one of the NFL's marquee television spots and finding Rob Johnson or J.P. Losman throwing the ball straight up into the air while Chan Gailey or Dick Jauron whoever listens to Michael Bublé in their headsets was... it just wasn't an idea. It wasn't something that anyone would allow to happen.
These Bills are not quite those Bills—they're on the better edge of mediocrity, and in quotable hambone weirdo Rex Ryan, they have one of the NFL's most television-ready head coaches. But there's still something strange about finding them here, under the bright lights of Jon Gruden's glare on Monday Night Football. They, of course, are out there with something to prove. With a bunch of things to prove, actually, starting with Rex Ryan's Plan To Build A Bullyingly Over-Physical Team Was Not Overcompensatory And Was Actually Both Cool And Good. In the end, though, they are mostly trying to prove that they are something other than the AFC East team the New England Patriots treat with the most disdainful cruelty.
And we'll see how they go about trying to prove that, whether through repeated obvious Richie Incognito leg-whips or through the sort of spirited effort they delivered in the teams' first meeting. The Patriots, too, remain what they have long been—merciless and weirdly seething and really just extremely good at football. It could be a fun game. It could be the sort of game in which two New England nose tackles catch touchdown passes because Bill Belichick is feeling salty like that. Either way, there's no reason for you to listen to ESPN's broadcast of it.
Watch, by all means. But trust our friends at Footballz to deliver the listening experience you deserve. TD will be alone in the studio tonight, although Mac will call in from the road in the second quarter, and the nation's—and The Nation's—presiding left-sports big dog Dave Zirin will be calling in during the fourth. Watch: it should be fun. Listen, here or at Footballz.org, because you deserve nothing less. You deserve the best. You deserve Buffalo on a Monday Night, and so much more.
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