Buffalo Bills coach Gregg Williams has a difficult chore in the days ahead because football is his livelihood and for a week his livelihood's relevance was questioned. Does football really matter in the face of a national tragedy?
Of course, it appeared minuscule standing next to the terrorist attack on the United States last week. It will appear minuscule under the same conditions 100 years from now. But the fact remains that football will be played Sunday unless America comes under another attack.
Williams' duty is regrouping his players and getting them ready for the Indianapolis Colts, a daunting task regardless of the circumstances. The Bills began refocusing on football Monday during a 90-minute workout outside their fieldhouse. Football is not life or death, but it is their life. It was time to get back to work.
"It's the challenge we have in every walk of life throughout the country right now," Williams said. "It's not only here. The (stock) markets opened up (Monday). We'll do our part. That's my job, our job as coaches. We'll do our part to get it back to as normal as we can, whatever that may be."
The Bills began installing their game plan for the Colts last week after learning the NFL postponed games scheduled for Week Two.
The Bills usually spend Monday reviewing their performance from the previous Sunday. They used the extra day for an upbeat workout that was much more crisp than practices held last week, when players were far more concerned about the country's welfare than converting third-and-8.
"I think guys are enthused about being back in here, but you still hear them talking about what happened," receiver Eric Moulds said. "You feel like you want to play and get your mind off things. Overall, I think guys are focused on what we have to do when we go out there and play."
Williams did not discuss the importance of winning and losing this weekend. He elected instead to focus on football as therapy for players around the league and fans across the nation. He emphasized sports as entertainment, a grand escape from our daily lives, especially given last Tuesday's death and destruction.
"It's important for us to know that we can help in any measure, taking anyone's thoughts away from what actually took place," Williams said. "I think it's a help. I think it's a help for the country, and I think it's a help for each individual that even participates in sports or the entertainment business as a whole.
"That could be a positive impact to try to help us begin to heal. That's our job. That's what we're ready to do. (Monday) is the day we get started about healing, getting back to as normal as possible and support of whatever needs to be done."
How the Bills and other teams will perform this weekend is a mystery. Many are expecting the level of intensity to be higher than usual because of the emotions running through the country. Aggression bottled up last week could come pouring out Sunday in Indy.
"A lot of guys are angry," safety Keion Carpenter said. "We can't go over there and fight for our country, so it might step up the intensity on the field. However, you have a job to do, and that's to entertain. Hopefully, we can bring a smile to someone who has been grieving all week. It takes you from behind your desk and out here to watch some games and have some fun."
The Colts could give the Bills' defense its toughest test of the season. The AFC East champs rolled up 45 points in a blowout victory over the New York Jets in Week One and appeared to be in midseason form.
Buffalo's offense will be looking for improvement after failing to score a touchdown in a 24-6 loss to the Saints. Quarterback Rob Johnson threw three interceptions and was sacked five times against the Saints, while the offense generated just 78 total yards, just 21 rushing yards, in the second half. Those facts seemed important last Monday, immaterial last Tuesday.
"Oh, we understand. We know we have to play better," Johnson said. "We know we have a big challenge again this week against the Colts. Obviously, (the attack) will always be on your mind. You go home and turn on the TV and it's all you watch. It's all you hear about. But we have a job to do. We're getting paid to play a game. You have to prepare that way."