It's Been One Whale Of An Offseason At One Bills Drive

BUFFALO, NY - If Bills fans can agree on anything, it may be that this particular off-season... has perhaps been the most tumultuous in the more than 50-year history of the franchise.

"It's been unusual, for sure," said Del Ried, President of Buffalo FAMbase Inc., and a founder of the popular #BillsMafia movement on Twitter.

It has been a roller coaster of an off-season for fans of the team, marked by high points and low ones.

Not long after another disappointing season closed, where the team missed the playoffs for the

14th straight year, the spirits of fans were lifted at least by Andre Reed's selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The joy was short lived however, because just after that it was announced that Jim Kelly's cancer had returned, with the Bills iconic Hall of Fame quarterback publicly asking for prayers in his battle with the serious disease.

Following that came the death of the team's one and only owner, Ralph Wilson.

"As fans of a small market team, we love seeing them in national news, but just not under these circumstances," said, Reid, who noted the plot of this turbulent off-season will only thicken amid all the speculation about who will step forward to purchase the franchise.

"A lot of fans, myself included, were disappointed that we weren't the subject of the Draft Day movie. Instead, it seems like we were able to trade it out for a real life soap opera," Reid said.

"I tell everyone around here to control what you can control," said head coach Doug Marrone on Tuesday, when asked about keeping the team focused amid all the off-season turmoil. "If we don't and we start thinking about the things we can't control and get sidetracked, that will lose our focus and that will hurt us in winning football games."

Hours later, through a statement, Marrone acknowledged he'd recently had a cancerous mole removed.

That was on the same day that several former cheerleaders filed suit against the team claiming they were underpaid and exploited, and just a day after the team settled – for $3 million-a class action lawsuit because they sent out too many text messages to fans.

Even the announcement regarding Marrone's cancerous mole was somewhat fumbled, creating a few hours of more off-season drama.

The statement came after the Bills (apparently inadvertently) posted an article from their website announcing that Marrone was diagnosed with "BLANK" cancer. The article was quickly removed.

This forced the team to release another statement Wednesday that said: "We are continuing today to discuss the unfortunate situation we experienced last night with our website and will address the matter internally."

"The biggest bright spot of this off-season has come amid some of the low points," said Matt Suboda, founder of the Buffalo Fan Alliance. "That is seeing how the fan base has really rallied around a lot of the adversity which has surrounded the team…the Buffalo Bills have the most loyal fan base in the NFL, and looking at what we've gone through this off-season as far as adversity around the team, how can you argue with that?"

However, not all of the off-season events and activities surrounding the team have been adverse.

There is $130 million dollars worth of renovations and improvements to Ralph Wilson Stadium for fans to enjoy, when they return for games next season.

Moreover, for the first time in several years,not one of them will be played in Toronto.

"That to me was the brightest development of this off-season," said Reid. "That we get all of our home games back in Buffalo."

Adding to the excitement, two free agent players born and raised in Buffalo, Mike Williams and Corey Graham, have returned to Western New York to suit up for the Bills.

And, the NFL Draft is fast approaching, which more than any other off season event, brings hope and promise to long suffering fans of the franchise.

Although, noted Reid, that is still two weeks away.

"That's a long time for a lot more drama," he laughed. "There's still some more room to fit some in."


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