One of my fantasy football leagues features a twist called "Rivalry Week" in which the schedule is set up that each owner plays his "rival" and the loser of the head-to-head match-up has to do something mildly embarrassing. This group of friends has been together for a decade now - most of us have dated the same girls, some of us have been roommates, almost all of us have been good drinking buddies - so the commissioner of the league thought it'd be a hoot to make our friendly pack into a group of cutthroat enemies by adding this concept. Not a bad idea if we were a lightly-scripted basic cable sitcom, but, because the commissioner is a Ph.D candidate in macroeconomics and not in comedy writing, he botched the execution. Instead of making my rival one of my two former roommates in the league, or one of my best friends on the planet, or the loud-mouth Patriots' fan or the guy from Kuwait who drafted a kicker in the first round during his first year in the league or any one of the four Eskimo Brothers I have in the league, he chose my rival to be HIS coworker. Because I decided to waste 3 of my first 4 picks on a serial child abuser, the #2 RB in Buffalo and a running back with a bad arm and torn knee ligaments, I easily lost my Rivalry Week contest to the guy I only see once a year on draft day. He's a Bills' fan, and my penance for losing Rivalry Week was to go to Buffalobills.com each week for the rest of the season and find an interesting story to summarize and share via email to the rest of the league.
Had I won, I totally would have made him wash my car or mow my lawn because hazing is otherwise banned in this state.
As far as websites go, Buffalobills.com is a perfect metaphor to the football team - every once in a while, it resembles a professionally-run organization, but most of the time, it's a mess. The writing is what you'd expect from a Mormon temple newsletter - wholesome, eager, and there's no sarcasm or critical thinking. You're more likely to read about players doing personal appearances at upstate shopping malls than any real analysis of the Bills' latest game.
Which leads me to my Rivalry Week chore - writing a summary of my favorite story on the site - this week featuring Jim Schwartz, former Lions' head coach and current defensive coordinator of the Bills. This article might appeal to the Deadspin commentariat that loves a dose of good ole' fashioned racism in their NFL coaches.
In Jim Schwartz's I'm-assuming-cocaine-addled mind, he thinks that inactive defensive players are just as important to the team as the active players. They're no weak links in the team's chain, as he puts it. How does he convey this message? By making the inactives wear a chain around their neck. And not like a little crucifix or rosary or puka shell chain, either. He puts honest-to-God chains on them, like the type of chains you would use to strap down a load on a truck, or to hang off a mountain... or, to drag a man against his will.
Tell me you don't see something wrong with this picture:
"Nothing to see here, boss. Just putting large black men in chains. "
I'm sure there's NO NEGATIVE MESSAGE HERE THAT CAN BE INFERRED WHATSOEVER by this imagery.
Two black guys in chains... two white guys in the background that appear to be untethered in any way. Nice accompanying picture there, Buffalobills.com. What, didn't have any screenshots from "Roots" handy?
Maybe it's because I live in the D.C. area, one of the most cosmopolitan, diverse parts of the country, that I am cautious to not deliberately offend those of different backgrounds, races and countries. Perhaps my college education allows me to see nuance and find correlations between intent and execution of ideas. I admit that I may very well be reading way too much into this.
Or it might just be common sense that it's usually a very bad idea for middle-aged white men to wrap chains around the necks of young black men.
Yeah, that's probably it.
Is Buffalo really that devoid of public relations professionals, lawyers and image consultants - or folks with a remedial knowledge of 5th grade history - to not see where this is decidedly unwise? Hell, even a garden variety self-involved Starbucks' barista would be able to help the Bills here.
Jim Schwartz might be the dumbest man in football for this motivational stunt, and I've read Adrian Peterson's barely-literate Tweets - that's a special kind of dumb. Did Schwartz read The Great Gatsby and never figure out why Fitzgerald kept mentioning the light and the water and the eyes? Did he watch "The Sixth Sense" five times before figuring out that Forrest Gump's kid was talking to a dead Bruce Willis the whole time? If he walks into a Five Guys and wonly counts three men working, hdoes he ask for a discount?
Could Jim Schwartz be the 2014 Schiano Man? Does this somehow out-Schiano Schiano?
Jim Schwartz only watches South Park to see how they'll kill Kenny off this week.
Jim Schwartz broke every rule about Fight Club.
Jim Schwartz doesn't understand why the n-word is "their word."
Jim Schwartz watched "Twelve Years a Slave" and said "I have a GREAT idea!"
Jim Schwartz is an idiot.