An open letter to Billy Joe Hobert:
Hey fella, I hear you got the ax Wednesday. Bummer, here you are chilling out for a couple of days (beats wasting a weekend in New England, doesn't it?) and before you could say Summer of Love Reunion, you're history.
Radical, man, but since you're gone, I thought I'd clue you in as to what happened out in Orchard Park. You know, the place where you used to actually punch in for almost $50,000 a week. I'm probably going to get myself in trouble for some of the things I'm going to say here Billy, but what the heck, you're a guy who likes to get it straight.
First up, you weren't waived, you were fired and you deserved it. Off your inept performance Sunday and your follow-up comments Monday, you lost the respect of the coaches -- especially offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Dan Henning. You lost the fans too, Billy, but most important, you lost your teammates. Football players, at least the ones who have never quit on the Buffalo Bills, can forgive a lot ol' buddy, but they can't forget not trying.
Gosh Billy, they were looking for you to at least give them a chance in Sunday's game against the Patriots. When Todd Collins went down and you went in, it was still a winnable game. Not easy, but possible.
Ever see films of the Houston playoff game? Don't you remember the Indy game a few weeks back? Heck, these guys might be a step removed from their championship days, but they've still got pride. Some of them still play to win and if that's not possible, then they keep playing out of respect. Respect for themselves mostly, but respect for the game, too. You didn't do that, Billy. By your own admission, you were too lazy to even prepare yourself to try.
And don't give me that stuff about at least being honest. I admire honesty, I strive for it every day, but nobody gives you a medal for it. Heck, most people don't even want to hear it.
Besides, this isn't about honesty. This is about commitment. You were the backup quarterback. Ideally, you could be a lot of things in that role. Mentor, friend, confidant and sideline analyst for a young player like Collins. It was a given that you weren't any of those things, Billy, but you could have at least been ready to play.
Besides, it's not like you had anything else to do. Backup quarterbacks have just one job, to be ready at a moment's notice. Most weeks it's a no-brainer, the football equivalent of hosting the Budweiser Sportsline, but once in awhile you're called on to perform. You might fail in the process, but you have to try.
But you blew it, Billy. You didn't come to play and then you rubbed it in the collective faces of the people who pay you and play with you. You even rubbed it in the face of the man who tried to cover for you.
Remember when Marv Levy said after the game that he put you in a tough spot? Was he being honest? Of course not. He was being a coach and covering your ill-prepared self. You paid him back by trashing Collins, dumping on your job, patting yourself on the back and then using locker room language on the radio to defend yourself for being a standup guy who talks about his shortcomings.
No wonder they gave you the Polian treatment.
You might think you actually competed for the starting job here, but you didn't. If it weren't for your salary, the fact the Bills wasted a third-round draft pick on you and Alex Van Pelt got hurt in training camp, you wouldn't have even made the team off your preseason performance. You've been in this league five years, you haven't proven a thing off your ability and now you're stamped as a quitter.
That's inexcusable. The Bills will put up with a lot for a player who performs, but had you been allowed to come back to work, Levy and general manager John Butler wouldn't have been able to look the rest of their players in the eye.
You broke the cardinal rule in sports, Billy -- you didn't try.