And now the postmortem so we can all move on.
Sun Media’s Steve Simmons sums up what appears to be a consensus thought in most Toronto columns today: “One of the real problems with this Bills In Toronto series, aside from all the obvious problems, is that it features the Bills. The truth is, we already have enough lousy teams in Toronto.”
+ The Toronto Star’s Garth Woolsey has some interesting comments from Bills Toronto Series general manager Adrian Montgomery, who spent the early part of this week avoiding yours truly like the plague.
1) “Montgomery estimated that only three per cent of fans (or roughly 1,500) at last year’s Toronto game came from [the Western New York fan] base; ‘the predominant fan base for this event is in the Greater Toronto Area.’”
2) “Over time, a lot has been written about Toronto not being a Buffalo Bills town, this not being `our’ team,” said Montgomery. “That’s something that may have been true but it’s certainly less true (now) than it ever was. Building a fan base for the Buffalo Bills is taking a bit of time.”
Obviously Montgomery has to say certain things, regardless of what he may or may not believe inside. Regardless, I think it would be difficult to find many sane Toronto football fans who would agree that there’s been any progress at all when it comes to expanding the Bills’ fan base in Toronto. It’s just not happening.
+ A pair of Buffalo News reporters spent time in the “tailgating” area and couldn’t find a sole who claimed to be from the Buffalo area.
There are no spacious parking lots around the stadium, like there are for tailgating purposes around Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park. So officials here staged an “official tailgate” of their own, complete with plenty of beverages, Hooters waitresses serving and ear-splitting music. It also came with mud. A lot of it. The area was grassy and folks were left to try to tip-toe through the bog. Large sod patches simply sank and created more of an obstacle course.
“This is embarrassing,” said a Bills fan wearing a Fred Jackson jersey who said he was from Lancaster but declined to give his name. “It’s a mess. Terrible.”
+ Jerry Sullivan of the Buffalo News claims the poor performance and tame atmosphere won’t help the Bills attract a marquee head coach.
+ Stephen Brunt of The Globe and Mail has a wide-ranging column on the game and the status of the series itself. He notes that the crowd took a step in the right direction:
It felt like a far more engaged crowd, involved in the game from the opening kickoff, cheering in the right places, groaning in the right places, with a clear rooting interest. Last year, there were more Dolphins than Bills jerseys in evidence, and there certainly wasn’t much sign of a pro-Buffalo bias – not that the Bills did much to encourage it. Ambivalence ruled, with the ‘Fins a close second.
This time, the “home” team was at least obviously the home team, (albeit the Toronto version thereof, so the support wasn’t as loud and rough around the edges as what the Bills experienced back in their regular digs).
+ Sun Media’s Steve Simmons counts the improvements from last year.
If last year was dismal failure, this was moderate success.
If last year a was game devoid of action and emotion, this game offered a whole lot of everything, highlighted by a heavyweight matchup between Terrell Owens and Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, with defensive player winning on the judge’s scorecards.
If last year was overpriced, the price came down. If last year was a once-in-a-lifetime I’m never going to waste my money on this crap, this year was reason to consider next year’s game.
+ Bruce Arthur of the National Post notes that Blue Jays season-ticket holders were given free tickets to Thursday’s game.
+ Apparently someone tossed a gay slur Mark Sanchez’s way, and it’s getting some press.
+ Using a pretty cool gauge, Buffalo Business First concludes that Los Angeles and Toronto are easily the top two North American markets without NFL franchises.
+ Results of a CTV.ca poll: 54 percent of voters say Toronto could not support an NFL team. Just ridiculous.
We’ll revisit all this craziness in August, when Rogers will be trying to do the impossible: sell out a preseason game.