Bills deactivated their 12th Man

December, 8, 2008
12/08/08
11:05
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

I know Buffalo Bills fans are about sick of the subject, but here's one last thought -- for now -- about their team's decision to sell off a significant regular-season game in December against a division rival.

Alone with my thoughts on the dark drive back to Buffalo from Toronto, where the Miami Dolphins beat the Bills 16-3 in the Rogers Centre, I mulled the soothing pregame assurance from event organizers the crowd would be fully behind the Bills.

"This will be a Bills crowd," said Adrian Montgomery, general manager for Rogers Communications and the chief organizer of the Bills in Toronto series. "I suspect there will be a number of Miami Dolphins fans. I can't estimate how many, but the Bills will have 12 men on the field."

We now know that wasn't the case. The dome was a mausoleum when the Bills made a first down or came up with a big defensive stop. The Dolphins were cheered throughout the game.

Meanwhile, back in cold, empty Ralph Wilson Stadium was a reminder of what the Bills forfeited when they sold off eight games to Rogers Communications for $78 million.

There, on the Bills' Wall of Fame, is The 12th Man. He's honored with the same prominence as Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas and Bruce Smith and Billy Shaw and Jack Kemp and Bob Kalsu and the other greats.

In essence, the Bills asked The 12th Man to sit out Sunday's game.

I can't imagine Marv Levy (also on the Wall of Fame) approaching Kelly before a December game against the Dolphins and saying, "You know, Jim, we think you should sit this one out. We're going a different direction today."

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