by Anthony Stampone
The NFL has long been known and even chastised for being the “Friday afternoon news dump league.” For a long time I was a proud fan of a team that didn’t seem to carry this mantra, and often were relatively upfront with their fan base and honest. Today that changed, and it’s extremely disappointing! Now I realize today is a Monday, but the fashion in which the Bills dropped two major pieces of news within a few hours of each other, is essentially the same thing as a “Friday News Dump.” Just for clarification purposes I would just like to say the NFL didn’t come up with the title on its own, on the contrary, this is a behavior that major businesses and corporations have been doing for years when it comes releasing not so pleasant news about their financial circumstances. A derivative of this behavior is what the Bills showed today, in an unavoidable forced news release situation they released some extremely harass news, and then waited a few hours and released some good to great news (Depending on how emotionally involved you are with Tyrod becoming the new starter) in a clear effort to hide or have fans overlook the bad news that was released.
10 years, wait let me say that again, 10 YEARS Fred Jackson has been the shining light of a very dim, suffering and sad sports franchise and fan base. No matter how good or bad or how optimistic you were for our teams over the last decade, one thing stood true and stood out like nothing else; Fred Jackson gave us hope no matter what. Over the course of the last 10 mostly terrible years of Buffalo Bills football Fred has been that one thing, that one player that always seemed to give something positive to talk about. Between being a long shot to even ever play in the NFL to becoming the 3rd most productive undrafted running back in NFL history, Fred earned the love and respect of the fans not only by his play but also by his words and actions off of the field. Fred has been the face of this franchise for many years, he never shied away from being upfront and honest about the current affair of the Bills, played with his heart on his shoulder, was upfront and honest with the media (which as we all know is rare in today’s professional sports) and was an unparalleled leader no one outside of the Buffalo area gave a second look to.
Coming from humble begins as a football player, playing for the little known Division III Coe College to tours in NFL Europe and Arena football, Fred never seemed willing to give up and always found some way to the next level. Upon finally getting his chance in the NFL Fred, took it and never looked back. Even with the Bills spending multiple number one draft picks during Fred’s tenure with the Bills, Fred never caused a ripple in the media complaining or berating his new teammates or the organization, he just kept doing what he had done his whole career; prove that he belonged. Long gone are the days of Marshawn Lynch and CJ Spiller and the seemingly non-stop rhetoric that these new young running backs were going to be the new top guy on the team and Fred would be benched or sent packing. Fred not only pushed, scratched, and fought his way on to those teams, but he also typically placed these younger supposedly more talented players at the time on the bench themselves. Fred did this with a strong work ethic, a refusal to fail attitude, and a “Do whatever it takes to win” mentality. Even during years where the Bills were terrible and unable to do anything more than occasionally play spoiler for potential playoff teams, Fred still gave us a reason to watch. Who was he going to run over, how many tackles was he going to break in any single run, how was he going to make the passing game look better by either catching passes out of the backfield at alarming rates sometimes or with blocks that he pancaked lineman and linebackers that were much larger than he was.
With all of this success, leadership, and dedication to a team just hoping to be average what the Buffalo Bills did to him today in the public eye is a disgrace! Fred not only deserved to play on this team for his past work as a member of this team, but also for what he still had to offer. Yes, Fred is an older player (the oldest at his current position in the NFL), but as he has proved in the past, his age is not an issue. Fred has been getting rave reviews all off-season about his play, until a minor hamstring injury sided-lined him for a few weeks. Upon his return to play (not counting practice since most of us do not get to see practices), Fred immediately showed not only that he still could play but that he belonged. On Thursday night’s preseason game versus the Steelers Fred busted lose for a long run, showed his pure power on a short yardage touchdown, and help protect our quarterbacks and in the process showing he is still one of if not the best pass blocking running backs in the NFL. When a player like this has been on your team suffering for years and shows he can still play, not only do you keep him for his ability to produce on the field but also for what he stands for with his teammates, the organization, and the fan base.
Unfortunately that is not how the story is going to end for Fred Jackson aka “Mr. Buffalo” in a Bills uniform. Not only is it disappointing to the fan base that you would cut such as iconic player that still has more than enough skill to play for this very talented team, but also one that embodies and represents a message that our team’s owners have been saying for a while now, “One Buffalo”, and “We are a family”. I do not know about you but if I have one year left with a guy that has carried a team from its lowest of lows, through trials and tribulations, through a scare of losing our beloved team to another city, and can still produce I keep him! Unfortunately today the Bills did not do that. Instead the Bills gave him the ultimate disrespectful good bye. Not only did they publically release our team’s most beloved player for the last decade but they also made hypocrites of themselves. Fred was the big brother and clear cut leader of this team, even with the likes of veterans like Kyle Williams, Eric Wood, and/or Mario Williams on this roster. None of them can or will replace what Fred meant to this team as a leader in the locker room or in the community. If the Bills and the Pegula’s were serious about holding true to their “One Buffalo”, and “We are a Family” public speak, that now I am sure many of you will agree that those are nothing but words now, they would have kept Fred on for the remainder of his contract. Fred was all of these things long before they were a punchline on a T-Shirt. No, instead the Bills not only cut Fred but attempted to dump the news by shortly after announcing our teams starting quarterback within just a few hours in attempts to divert your attention from what just happened to something else that we clearly had a lot of interest in with the hopes that we would forget. Well with that said, I also say this to the Buffalo Bills, Sabres, and PSE, we will not forget this and you have lost credibility with your fan bases! What you had all of us believing before are now just words!