In Defense Of the Denver Scoreboard Operator 

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (Photo: Ron Chenoy/US Presswire)

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning
(Photo: Ron Chenoy/US Presswire)

Alright, Peyton. Calm down. Or you’re going to pop a vein in that big noggin of yours.

Yes, you are Peyton Manning. You control every facet of the game…every snap, every down, every call, and every cheer. But, there are some things that even you cannot control. Yes, I just said that.

And human nature is one of them.

On Thursday night, the Denver Broncos were up 35-21 on the San Diego Chargers. There were two minutes left in the game. During the break, the Denver scoreboard operator decided to have some fun.

Peyton Manning was not amused.

“I’m not sure what he’s doing. He’s playing music and showing our players dancing and getting the crowd fired up when we have the ball. I don’t think we should be doing that. I don’t think we should be showing their quarterback on the sideline. I thought it was disrespectful.”

–Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning

Oddly enough, it was Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers who was on the sideline smiling and laughing throughout.

Now, this scoreboard operator is probably a guy who’s getting paid ten dollars an hour. He probably has a family. He’s probably a huge Broncos fan. And he was probably still buzzed on adrenaline, having just watched you break the NFL touchdown record a few nights ago.

I know you never had this problem in Indianapolis. I guess some fans are just more trainable than others.

Still, the Peyton I know would have called the guy down to the locker room, reviewed the Peyton Manning Rules of Crowd Control with him (over a beer), then patted him on the back and sent him on his way.

I know you’re “The Sheriff.” And I know that being a control freak is part of what earned you that title. But, really? Calling the guy out in the media? Come on, Peyton. You’re better than that.

Also, when you make Philip Rivers look good-natured…it’s time to reexamine your life.

Just saying.

Now, go find someone your own size to pick on. Maybe a kicker. Or Eli.

XO

Guest Blogger Maggie Zuffranieri On One Buffalo: Remembering the Past As We Cheer For Our Future

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Ralph Wilson Stadium Orchard Park, NY (Photo: Buffalo Bills)

Buffalo, New York: birthplace of the chicken wing; setting to a natural world wonder; and now, the permanent home of the Buffalo Bills.

As football fans recall, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. took a chance on the city of Buffalo in 1959. Mr. Wilson left his position, as a minority owner of the Detroit Lions, to establish the American Football League (AFL). The birth of the AFL paved way for the start of a new team, a team over which Mr. Wilson would have complete ownership, a team which represented our city – Buffalo, New York.

Through the significant contributions of Mr. Wilson and a small group of other owners, the AFL survived and thrived for about a decade, before merging with the NFL. For Bills fans, the day that Mr. Wilson founded the football franchise – he not only gave our city a sports team but he also gave Buffalo, a city with a rich history, the hope and possibility of a bright future.

Although Mr. Wilson was a Detroit native, he encompassed all the attributes of a true “Buffalonian” – a person who believes in Buffalo and all that Buffalo can be; a loyal individual, brave enough to take chances on this community and dedicate his work to making Buffalo a thriving city.

So, while Mr. Wilson may have only come to Buffalo to establish a football franchise, he dually succeeded in the creation of the ultimate family – The Bills family. In victory or defeat, we stand together – a dedicated and passionate fan base that rivals any other.

The strength of this ‘family’ was seriously tested after the passing of Mr. Wilson in early March. Fear that our treasured football franchise would become but a page in this city’s history just as Mr. Wilson has, struck this community hard. But with exuberant hearts and unwavering courage, the community dedicated itself to the public support of a new owner ensuring that their main objective would be a commitment to keep the Buffalo Bills franchise in the city of Buffalo.

The greatest testament to our unity came amidst adversity, at the reprimands of others. Individuals – uninformed, uneducated, and unfamiliar with our city – believed that they, somehow, knew what was best for our franchise. “Business men” with small minds and large pockets, discussed our team as nothing more than a business transaction. Many analysts, players, and deep pocket investors, deemed our city unworthy – a city with no room to grow.

Luckily, there was one family who knew better. A family with roots already invested in the life and growth of Buffalo, who already cared about the people in its community. A family who understood that losing this Bills franchise would mean squandering a significant part of our city’s identity. A family that made the history of Buffalo a possibility for the future. This family not only believes in Buffalo, but has also learned to “BILLieve.” They have become an important part of our family, of our community, and for that we will always be grateful for the Pegulas.

Sunday, October 12th marked the first game day of the Pegula’s ownership of the Buffalo Bills, and in no surprise, our community divulged ticket holders in Buffalo’s best: Starting with a heartfelt introduction of our new owners, the Pegula family, and finishing with our national anthem sung by Buffalo native and lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls, Johnny Rzeznik.

While the outcome of the game did not yield the fairy tale ending Bills fans had hoped for, we did not leave Ralph Wilson Stadium in vain. We left confident in the future of our team. We left knowing that we had a family “truly honored to represent a team and a city that [they] love.” And we left as Terry and Kim Pegula would have it – a part of “One Buffalo:” one city, one fan base, one family united together striving for growth and prosperity. A city, which we call home, filled with remarkable people, whom we call family.

This past Sunday (October 19th), watching our football team, fans truly witnessed the unwavering strength of “One Buffalo.” In a game where the Bills struggled to hold onto the ball, the team rallied together, during the final minutes of the game, to win. The Bills drove 80 yards downfield, and together, overcame adversity – including a 3rd and 12 and a 4th and 20 – to score a touchdown with one second remaining. Many individuals, including myself, viewed this game as a catalyst, a game that precipitates change from our losing culture. However, I cannot help but also recognize a parallel between this game and our growing city: No matter how long our “opponents” kept us down, our team – our city – discovered a way to prevail in triumph, because together we are “One Buffalo.”

Terry and Kim Pegula expressed they do not wish to be praised for their recent actions, nor for the lengths they went through to keep a historic piece of Buffalo in its rightful home. Despite this request, I do hope they will accept our city’s sincerest thank you.

Thank you for taking a chance on a Buffalo hockey team four years ago and on a Buffalo football team three years later. Thank you for investing in our wonderful city – and for believing in the people who live and work here. But, most importantly, thank you for seeing Buffalo through my eyes. For witnessing and imagining this city’s potential the way I do.

So Terry and Kim please know that you – like Mr. Wilson – are honorary “Buffalonian” in every sense of the word.

About the Author: Maggie Zuffranieri is a football enthusiast, Bills junkie, Buffalo aficionada, and college senior. She enjoys a good meal, ample amounts of coffee, and an open dance floor. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram: @moogie_zoof.

Why I Stayed

(Photo: Pigskin 'N Pearls/Mili Tepavac)

(Photo: Pigskin ‘N Pearls/Mili Tepavac)

Last week, I got an interesting text message from a friend of mine.

“What would it take for you to boycott the NFL?”

It was a good question. I thought about it for a while and texted back.

“I guess turning a continued blind eye. But they don’t have that option.”

I thought about it some more and continued to think about it as new allegations of violence unfolded against another player, this time involving a child.

Was I wrong? Was I part of the problem? Was I enabling the bad behavior of the sport I love?

It’s now Sunday. And I’m watching football. Just like I do every Sunday.

I’m not boycotting the National Football League. Because I love football. Football is a big part of my life. Football is a big part of me. For the same reason that many women choose to stay in relationships, I’m choosing to continue my relationship with the NFL…simply because I have too much invested in it. And I care too much to walk away.

The NFL is not just another sport. It’s our sport. America’s sport. America’s game.

And it’s not just about the game. It’s about the players. It’s about the fans. It’s about the kids. It’s about bringing us together. Football crosses the barriers of age, sex, and race. So many things in life tear us apart, but football brings us together.

After a certain age, not many things give you goosebumps. Football still gives me goosebumps.

The NFL is at a crossroads. It has tough decisions to make. But it doesn’t have to do it alone. The owners carry part of the burden. As do the players. And the fans.

Together we make football.

And together we can change it.

And that’s why I stayed.

XO

Letter From a Female NFL Fan

Dear Commissioner Goodell and DeMaurice Smith,

Before you file the Ray Rice incident away as a cautionary tale for the NFL Rookie Symposium, I want to take the opportunity to speak to you as a member of the female fan base.

First, I want to credit all the players, current and former, who stood up, spoke up, and manned up when the disturbing video of one of their peers was released to the public. It wasn’t all of them, but it didn’t need to be. The players who came forward: Terrance Knighton, Scott Fujita, LeCharles Bentley, Brady Quinn, Jason Taylor, Chris Harris, and others made an impact that will stay with us long after the news cycle of this story.

More so than anything else (and maybe despite anything else), it is the players of the National Football League who have the ability and the responsibility to change the culture of violence that exists within it. Fines, suspensions, and litigation withstanding, the disrespect and shame of one’s peers may be the one and only thing that causes players to think twice about allowing the brutal nature of the sport they play to spill out and into their off-the-field lives.

I don’t know if athletes should be held to a higher standard. I just know that they are. And whether that’s a burden or a blessing is up to each and every individual player.

It only takes one guy to be a problem. But it only takes one man to be a solution. It’s time for the players to start policing themselves and hold each other accountable for what happens on and off the field.

By embracing the spotlight shined on this dark corner of society and redirecting it to awareness and prevention, the NFL and the NFL Players Association has the ability to not only better the lives of its family, but the families of its large, passionate, and proud fan base.

And that is the good that I hope will come from this sad chapter in our sport.

Signed,

A Female Fan

How TMZ Changed the NFL

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Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice and his fiancée (now wife) Janay Palmer.

The incident between Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his fiancée, Janay Palmer, was ugly when it happened. And what happened next was just confusing. They got married. They held an awkward press conference. Palmer apologized for her role in the incident. They met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. And eventually, Rice was suspended from the league for two games.

It all led me to one conclusion: there must be more to the story. Maybe we’d never know what it was. Maybe we didn’t need to know. Maybe it was none of our business.

Then, TMZ released the video. And that’s when I got angry.

Not that it would have made it better (much less acceptable), but I guess I expected to see Palmer attacking Rice and him defending himself. Maybe that’s what I wanted to believe. At least in part, it’s what I feel I was led to believe. And consequently, that’s exactly what some of Rice’s teammates have said.

I won’t post the video from the elevator in the Atlantic City casino, because I don’t want to see it again (and you probably don’t either). But, you know where to find it. There was obviously some kind of disagreement. Followed by an altercation. Followed by Palmer hitting the floor unconscious.

Rightly so, the release of the video sent social media into a frenzy. It wasn’t long before fans, journalists, even former and current players were calling foul. And not just calling it…screaming it.

By mid-afternoon, the Ravens had released Ray Rice and the NFL followed with an indefinite suspension. Both claimed they hadn’t seen the disturbing video until that morning.

What does it say that Ray Rice wasn’t blackballed until we saw video evidence of the brutal assault on his then fiancée? Among other things, that people are innocent until proven guilty. That it’s a tough area to prosecute by nature. That we want to give people (and especially famous people) the benefit of the doubt. And that sometimes, we believe what we want to believe.

As a result of the incident, the NFL put in place a new policy with a mandatory six-game suspension for players who commit acts of domestic violence and a lifetime ban for the second offense.

But what we’ve learned more than anything, is that the fans, the media, and the players have influence. That by speaking up, they can help draw the line on acceptable boundaries. And that on this issue, those lines are very clear.

Whether it’s the first time or not, any time a player puts his hands on a woman…should be the last time he steps foot on an NFL field.

Zero excuses. Zero apologies. Zero tolerance.

XO