What Really Matters

By Juan Eduardo Prada
In 2008, the Buffalo Bills showed that they do belong with the elite of the league in terms of football; however we can’t assert the same statement when we talk about mentality. The Bills started their season on a rampage with a 5-1 record, with their only loss in that time to the eventual NFC Champion: the Arizona Cardinals. Then, the team went on to win two out of their next ten games to finish at 7-9 for the third straight season.

So I ask myself what happened? Which aspects of the game made the team suddenly collapsed in such an awful way? People can say that it was just a hard schedule or that maybe the AFC East was a tough division. Yet the Bills were ranked number one in their Division with the “invincible” Patriots behind them, followed by the Jets and the last year’s worst team the Miami Dolphins.

Football experts affirm that quarterback Trent Edwards played the best football that Buffalo fans have seen at the position in a long time in those first four games, nevertheless after Adrian Wilson's hit he seemed to lose his momentum and never gained back his shape to save the season. In the meantime wide receiver Lee Evans and running back Marshawn Lynch were not expected to have great performances because of their young age’s and lack of experience- which I don’t think it’s a pertinent issue. If we go back to 1992 Buffalo’s backup quarterback Frank Reich, who was filling in for the injured Jim Kelly, led the Bills to the greatest comeback in NFL History being their backup quarterback for 7 years having no experience at all in the playoffs.

Be it basketball, soccer, hockey, golf, lacrosse, volleyball, or American Football, mentality and positive attitude is what brings success for any team or sport athlete. A good example of this are the current NFC Champions, the Arizona Cardinals. Larry Fitzerland it’s just being recognized after four seasons with the Cardinals, the four time Pro Bowler Edgerrin James had an incredible season but he doesn’t play at the same level he used with the Colts, and let’s don’t forget about Super Bowl champion Kurt Warner; he is 37 years old and clearly doesn’t have the same ability as past years. Even so, all these players and the rest of the team had a common goal at the beginning of the season, and it was to become champions no matter what the people, the journalist or the fans said. They didn’t win the big game in Tampa, however they are winners by the way the approach each game. They played hard football combined with persistence, team unity, and mental control.

For the Bills it was just another losing record and the eight straight season without being able to reach the playoffs. Sure, the newest players made the biggest impact, as the defensive additions helped although the missing ingredient seems to be attitude and motivation. Like Vince Lombardi once said: “The difference between a successful team and the others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will”.
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