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We shouldn't meddle with Bills' future

This is the time of the year for ringing out the old.

So, naturally, thoughts turn to Ralph Wilson and the future of the Buffalo Bills.

Just as naturally, thoughts turn also to local government and the eerie parallel between the fate of the team and the community that it represents. After digesting the recent brainstorm for keeping the Bills tethered here well past the new year, I keep coming back to the wisdom of that legendary football mind, Pogo.

While we all wish Wilson a long life, there's much consternation about what will happen to the Bills when the 92-year-old owner has gone to that great Super Bowl in the Sky -- or wherever NFL moguls go.

Hence the proposal to have fans buy "Bills bonds" as a form of low-interest loan to make the team more affordable and help a new owner keep it here. It's a variation on the Green Bay Packers model in which the community actually owns the team, dodging the technicality that the league no longer allows such ownership. Instead -- at least on paper -- the Bills' new "owner" would be whoever buys the franchise.

But let's face it: In reality, that new owner would no more be in control than voters are in control of government.

Just as the lobbyists who fund the government run the government, we who would fund the Bills would feel entitled to run the Bills in accord with the age-old dictum that he who pays the piper calls the plays. Instead of phoning in to talk shows, we'd be phoning the front office.

That's where Pogo's admonition -- "We have met the enemy and he is us" -- makes me queasy.

What kind of "owners" would we be? Judging by our civic won-lost record, not too good. Just look at some of our more memorable draft picks, starting with double-barreled threat Ed Rutkowski, who turned out to be an even worse county executive than he was a football player.

We later made Joel Giambra the county's starting quarterback. Not only couldn't he learn the playbook, he had two of them -- one red, one green. Neither of his color-coded budgets was any good.

Thinking of City Hall, Tony Masiello brings to mind the Hickory Woods contaminated housing development and downtown brewers sneaking away in the middle of the night after sending both beer and city loan money down the drain.

Carrying on in that grand tradition, Byron Brown will be remembered for the One Sunset fiasco. Meanwhile, back at the county, Chris Collins is Vince Lombardi without the charm -- or the vision.

In fact, "we the people" haven't had a decent draft since we picked Dennis Gorski in 1987. He rescued Erie County from Rutkowski's fiscal debacle, stabilized finances without decimating crucial services and didn't play city against suburbs.

It was the last sign of intelligent life in local government.

Coincidentally or not, it also was the era when the Bills went to four straight Super Bowls. Since then, it has been all downhill -- for government and football.

In fact, wide receiver Stevie Johnson shouldn't have any gripes with the Almighty after dropping that game-winning pass a few weeks ago. It's the rest of us who should look at what we've wrought and vow on Twitter to "never forget this!! Ever!!!"

The upshot: As bad as Wilson's reign has been lately, I'm not sure getting us involved with his successor is the answer.

Granted, we should vote; Jefferson, Madison and all those guys said so. But given our won-lost record, there's no reason to expand our reach into something as important as football.

e-mail: rwatson@buffnews.com

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