As much as I love my hometown, the collective myopia that engulfs the community never ceases to amaze me. Numerous manifestations of this defect litter the landscape: lack of a new bridge to Canada, an undersized, arcane zoo, a non-existent economy and dozens of local governments all duplicating services at taxpayer expense; all remain glaring examples of this phenomenon. However, like most natives, I choose to ignore those significant problems and instead focus on the Bills. (Just because I recognize the myopia does not mean I'm above it.)
In this community, the Bills function as painkillers. A successful football team helps us forget about all the real problems we face. With this in mind, you would think that the community would mobilize all its positive energy toward embracing and supporting the new regime. You, of course, would be wrong.
The city has greeted Dick Jauron with the enthusiasm with which Israel embraced the late Yasser Arafat. Jauron has been here less than two weeks and already hateful Web sites have appeared titled "Fire Dick" and worse. Local televised news has broadcast several man-on-the-street commentaries, all of them saying the same thing: Dick Jauron is not the guy.
I'm not sure where to place the blame for our football team's lack of success, but I'm willing to funnel some of it toward the community's attitude. After a losing season, we have a tendency to adopt a scorched-earth policy toward those in power. The irony here rests in the fact that the more we purge to satisfy our never-ending desire to avenge alleged wrongdoings, the worse our football team becomes.
These thoughts come to me every year as I watch the playoffs. I saw former Bills coach Gregg Williams thrive in Washington, Wade Philips had success in Atlanta and San Diego, and all four coaches for the best teams in the league -- John Fox, Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan and Mike Holmgren -- have been in their posts for more than five years.
Maybe other pro football organizations in other cities know something we don't. Maybe they have more patience because their community does not burn the leaders of their most beloved organization in effigy after each failure.
Perhaps those communities do not overreact because they have other things on their radar screen besides pro football. They may actually come together and try to solve problems in order to make their communities function more effectively. This in turn could benefit everyone and make the place a more desirable one in which to live. That could lead to less reliance on pro football to bolster a community's self image.
Our attitude toward our football team reveals a lot about ourselves. We lack the patience and faith that it takes to support an organization long enough for it to be successful. These character flaws make it impossible for us to cooperate with each other.
We have a dysfunctional community and those traits can be seen in the way we react to our football team.
Patrick Jackson lives in Tonawanda.