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HOLIDAY JEER

Twas the week before Christmas, and we're in a playoff run.

The offense looked like it was having no fun.

It's run by a guy that we know as Joe.

I think it's time for coach Pendry to go!

The play calling's bad, I think you all must agree.

But when you question him on this, he says "Who, me?"

He's the worst calling plays that I've ever seen.

He's ruining the Bills, my favorite team.

When it comes to our defense it's run by Ted.

Coach Cottrell thinks the blitz is buried and dead.

I scream rush-rush, but I think he's deaf.

I look to the sidelines and I wish he had left.

The special teams are run by coach DeHaven.

A kicker's what Bruce surely is cravin'.

Someone tell Bruce that 11's enough.

He sends out 12, that's little league stuff.

Now to the main man, coach Phillips is he.

Wade is so clueless, just like the other three.

He wanders the side, not a headset in sight.

Please, Wade, please, take a long, long flight.

Now that I'm done, lets all hope for more.

Let's hope we make the playoffs, despite these four.

Merry Christmas, Bills fans

BARRY STEVES

Clearwater, Fla.

Give Rob a chance

Kudos to the writer from Hamburg on his letter about Doug Flutie printed in The News on Dec. 12. I agree wholeheartedly! Yes -- Flutie does do some good things at times but he is so inconsistent! He is not an accurate passer. This has been going on all season. This last game vs. the Giants was a prime example. Several times receivers were wide open and his passes were nowhere near them. Again he had passes knocked down, but not because of his size. No one can throw a ball through an onrushing defender or try to throw the ball through the defensive line -- yet Flutie continually tries to do so.

The question to Bills management and the coaching staff is: How bad do you want to win? This Bills team has plenty of talent -- but it has to play up to its potential every week if it's going to win. It also plays in the best division in football. With this in mind, when Flutie is struggling why don't the Bills give Rob Johnson a chance to show what he can do?

When a running back or a wide receiver is struggling, the coaches seem to have no problem putting someone else in their place. Why should the quarterback position be any different? The coaches certainly don't seem to care if Andre or Antowain get upset when they are benched. This is a team game. All 53 players should be expected to contribute every game, every week. Heaven forbid that Wade Phillips would sit Flutie down and bruise his ego -- even if were only for a couple of series to get some perspective.

The Bills have a quarterback with a lot of abilities in Rob Johnson. The team as a whole has the best QB situation in the league -- why not take advantage of it? It's time the Bills decide that they must win now and do whatever it takes to do so. This team will not go anywhere with an inconsistent QB. The defense can only do so much. The Bills invested a lot of money in Rob Johnson to be the starter -- they were also stupid enough to give Flutie a new big contract when they could have had him play out this season for what he originally was supposed to get. Rob Johnson has handled all this with a lot if class -- a lot of other players have not.

What's more important: Marketing everything Flutie or winning every game, the division, the conference and the Super Bowl?

I've been a diehard Bills fan all my life. I know one thing -- if the Bills do not keep Rob Johnson and keep a 37-year-old QB with declining abilities instead -- I will never attend or watch another Bills game. It will tell me that marketing and merchandising are more important to the Bills management than winning.

DAVID SUTTER

Cheektowaga

Make the change now

How many subpar performances by Doug Flutie will it take to give Rob Johnson a chance to play? As we see the season slipping away it is appalling to me that Wade Phillips and the Bills organization has neither the guts nor the brains to see what Rob Johnson can do.

I'm sure Rob could have done much better than 15 of 32 against a bunch of practice squad defensive backs and also put up more than seven points against the Jets. Jim Kelly was good to be pulled from a game but now we have arguably a better quarterback on the bench (definitely a better passer).

Doug Flutie did play well last year but this year he has not. It is not fair to the fans or the team to not make a change. Put Rob Johnson on the field.

JOHN CIEZKI

Lancaster

Sorry threesome

It was apparent, watching the Bills on Sunday, that there are at least three people that are not getting their jobs done this year. The first is Doug Flutie. Yes, he is exciting to watch. Yes, he makes things happen. Unfortunately, they are not always good things. Yes, he is a wonderful human being, but that doesn't win football games. Flutie was consistently throwing behind his receivers and it is obvious that he cannot throw the long ball anymore.

The second is Steve Christie. Yes, he holds numerous Bills records, but that doesn't put the ball through the goalposts. He has been unreliable at best this year, and let's face it, kickers are a dime a dozen. In his defense, we as fans do not have the ability to ascertain whether the problem is entirely Christie's or if the holder is partially at fault.

The third is Wade Phillips. The coach has to take the blame for the team's poor play. How they could not be up for a game like this is beyond me. They knew that they needed to win all four remaining games to have a shot at the division title. Phillips must be faulted for the play-calling. I don't question the fourth down call at all, but the decision to abandon the run proved disastrous earlier in the year. If I were a coach opposing the Bills, I would do exactly what the Giants did. Invite the Bills to pass because they won't beat you that way.

BRIAN DURANT

Hamburg

Knock, knock

When the Bills leave for Disney World Jan. 3, I don't believe they will be allowed in. They have absolutely no imagination.

Opportunity knocks, it doesn't kick the door down.

RONALD S. CUDNEY

Derby

Planning ahead

After watching our latest chance for making the playoffs slip away again, I've decided that it's time to take this season for what it's worth . . . over.

That being said, I would just like to make a few suggestions to Bills management on changes for next year to improve this ballclub.

1. All the preseason football prognosticators were right when they said that most defensive coordinators would figure out ways to defend against Doug Flutie. Stop the running game and force him to pass -- blitz, blitz, and blitz again and he will not beat you with his arm. Oh yeah, and in the process you just might bat down a few of those passes. Most of the general managers of this league were right when he came out of college. Yes Doug, you are too short. How many times have we seen his attempted passes this year knocked back into his face on critical third-down situations, costing us that valuable "W" to make the playoffs? Too many. Give the ball to Rob and let the little guy go.

2. Now as for Mr. Christie, it seems to me that just a couple of years ago he was one of the leaders in all-time field goal percentage. How many has he not made the last two years that have cost us a win? Say Not Mr. Automatic anymore. Say outta here.

3. Ah yes. Now we come to the beloved Mr. Reed. Let's see, don't come to minicamp, don't come to training camp on time, don't be a team leader, don't drop any passes in critical situations, don't cause dissention in the locker room. Say don't come back next year.

4. Enough said.

KEN STACHOWIAK

Lancaster

Stop the whining

I read the letters in this column every Sunday. Some are intelligent, some are very humorous, but the ones that amuse me most are the letters that contain nothing but whining and crying about small seats and no Thermoses and a variety of things that our local sports teams have forced on us.

To complain about players playing badly or poor coaching is one thing. These things we can't change. But as far as crying about small seats and watered down overpriced hot chocolate, these are things that can be changed.

Simply don't go. Every week there are letters complaining about the Bills' and Sabres' treatment of the fans, yet every time I look, the stands are full. What amuses me most are the fans who end their letters with, "I wish the Bills or Sabres would stop lying to the fans because we're not stupid." I beg to differ. The Sabres fire Ted Nolan, creating an uproar. The Bills take away our bench seats and Thermoses and replace them with child car seats and overpriced, watered-down hot goo. Yet there you are.

Hey, I'm a fanatic just like you are. If you're not gonna do something about it, just sit in your car seat, wish you had some homemade hot cocoa and shut up. And spare us your whining and crying until you choose to stand for something.

EDWARD G. BIERCZNSKI

Buffalo

Fishy product

It seems that the owner of the Sabres is content with the product that he has on the ice. And with a general manager that has his head buried in the sand hoping that the players that John Muckler brought here will last another 10 years.

Last but not least, we have a captain who would rather shoot a can of tuna fish into a shopping cart than a hockey puck into the net.

TONY MANASERI

Lockport

Cheesy atmosphere

I am writing this letter in concern with what has been going on in the University at Buffalo athletic program as of late.

From 1993-97 I was a manager with the men's basketball team and dedicated a large part of my life to that team. I was up at 5 a.m. for practices from November until January along with many other students.

It wasn't because I had a dying love for basketball or because I was receiving any sort of stipend, it was because of Tim Cohane. Currently I am receiving my Master's and Specialist's degree from the University of Florida and will pursue my Ph.D beginning next year. One of the reasons I have been propelled to do this is Tim Cohane.

I have been keeping abreast of the situation that has been going on for some time now and am disgusted by the results.

I wish the best for all of the players on the team and I pray for Reggie Witherspoon. I don't pray for him because of the difficult schedule that he will face or because of the lack of talent with which he will have to try to win. I pray for him not to be chewed apart by the same rats that finally got to Cohane.

Take a look around you, Reggie, and be very careful who you befriend and who you trust. The same rats are still lingering around campus and are festering in the athletic program. Now they have their eyes on the new piece of cheese. Do not bother trying to win any of them over and trust them to be loyal, they don't know the meaning of that. If you are going to befriend anyone, Reggie, you better make sure it is an exterminator.

I find it disheartening that after everything Tim Cohane has done for the community and for the University at Buffalo basketball program that he has still been crucified in the media.

A quick reminder: if it wasn't for Tim Cohane the University at Buffalo would never see the likes of North Carolina or Indiana. How soon we forget.

Don't worry though, someday those rats will be too busy chasing the cheese and they will not see the trap that will break them, a trap they set themselves.

Thanks, coach, for everything.

JON M. DOWNS

Gainesville, Fla.

Punishment vs. crime

Pete Rose gambled on a baseball. Was he right? No. Should he be punished? Yes. Has he been? Yes -- 10 years. Let's review:

1. Did Pete ever choke his coach? No.

2. Did Pete sexually assault a woman, any woman? No.

3. Did Pete "flip the bird" to everyone on national television? No.

4. Did Pete take illegal drugs, performance enhancing drugs or was he ever drunk, disorderly or out of control? No.

5. Did Pete ever spit in an umpire's face? No.

I could go on and on. Other sports figures have been suspended, banned, cast out, fined, ridiculed, castigated and scorned for their behavior on and off the field of play but are still on the field today. This isn't about letting someone off the hook. It's about "What is good for the goose is good for the gander." If you ban Pete for life then ban these other clowns for life. Then I can say at least it was fair. The media's attack on this man is unparalleled! His response to them invited more attacks. Where will it end?

SCOTT COVENTRY

Angola

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