Originally posted on Rumors and Rants  |  Last updated 8/4/14
With Andre Reed’s Hall of Fame induction and Buffalo playing in prime time to officially kick off the NFL preseason Sunday night, the Bills received more national attention this weekend than they have at any point since the height of the Zubaz Era. But one of the prospective new owners of the team decided he needed to go local in an effort to assuage fans fears that the team would go elsewhere under his tenure. That would be Jon Bon Jovi, whose partners in the ownership include the Toronto-based Rogers family and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tannenbaum, who is already in charge of the Maple Leafs and Raptors. The thought in Buffalo is if the Bon Jovi group purchases the Bills, the team will move to Canada when the first opportunity presents itself after an exit clause opens in the team’s stadium lease in 2019. Reed himself made his position on the potential Bon Jovi ownership clear last week when he told New York Magazine, “Man, f*ck Bon Jovi.” So with Reed’s beef made public, Bon Jovi attempted to clear the air with a letter to the editor in Sunday’s Buffalo News. Recently, there has been a lot of speculation about the future of the Buffalo Bills and questions surrounding the ownership group of which I am a part. Until now, we have not said anything publicly out of respect for Mr. Wilson, his family and the process they are undertaking to identify the right group to carry the franchise forward. However, there has been a lot of conjecture, so we think it’s important to clarify our intentions to the fans of the team and people of Buffalo. Our objective is simple: to carry on the legacy of Ralph Wilson and make the Bills successful in Buffalo. We are committed to working with the State, City, County and business community to identify the best possible site in the Buffalo area for a new stadium and to then develop and implement a plan to finance and build a state-of-the-art NFL stadium for the loyal Bills fans. He concluded with: I know how much the Bills mean to the people of this region. So I want you to hear this from me: I’m not risking it all to let you down. If we are given the chance to be the next owners of the Buffalo Bills, I promise you that we will bring the same passion that you do every Sunday, every day. “Risking It All” totally sounds like the title of a Bon Jovi song, right? Based on the online comments section — which is not necessarily something anything should be based on — Bills fans aren’t buying what Bon Jovi’s selling. Says one fan: It is clear that Bon Jovi’s public relations department thinks that their sympathetic language that not once states the team won’t move will fool the estate of Ralph and Buffalo fans. He talks about how much the Bills mean to the region, which opens it up for his Toronto co-conspirators who would declare Toronto is part of the region. Let’s see Bon Jovi really step up and declare that he will guarantee the team will not physically leave Buffalo and Western NY if his bid succeeds. If he is not playing games with our heads so that he can win the bidding war let’s put down this commitment in writing with an even greater penalty imposed if the team leaves including closing the 2020 loophole by putting the $400 million penalty on their group if they leave at that point in time. Frankly, I think we are all united with Andre in our “respect” for the Toronto group and their front man And another: I’d love to believe him, but this is written in a cautious way to still allow JBJ lots of wiggle room for the future: “Our objective is simple: to carry on the legacy of Ralph Wilson and make the Bills successful in Buffalo.” Yeah? And who defines success, Jon? And what timeline will you place on this ‘success’ before you give up and say “Sorry, we tried but it was impossible to succeed (to our standards, on our timeline) in Buffalo, so we’re off to Toronto.” There’s no reason he couldn’t have just said “I have no interest in moving the team, now or ever”/”The fans of Buffalo have been excellent in their support, and deserve to keep the team.” IE – Present the case that he believes they can succeed – not just lip service that he’ll make an effort. Sorry if this is too cynical – but it’s a cynical and litigious age we live in – and you really to have to read the fine print before agreeing to anything. One reader even suspects Bon Jovi’s group would go the “Major League” route and field an intentionally bad team to help make a move easier… though it’s not as if the Bills have needed much help doing that in the last decade. anyone can make their “objective” to “try” to make a team successful in Buffalo first (as he cant move the team until 2020 anyway), and then leave the first chance he gets. Legally any bidder who has known plans to move the team are disqualified, so this group cannot ever admit they want to move the team or lose their bid. Also he says “I know how much the Bills mean to the people of this region”, a vague term in which could include Toronto a few hours away… He never mentions once he wants the team in Buffalo, he only said their goal is to try to make things work in Buffalo when they are legally required to for the next 6 years. Its crazy to think a Toronto based group exploring Toronto sites for the Bills, would not do everything in their power to bring the Bills to Toronto in 6 years. Last time Bon Jovi said this, a day or two later the group was caught exploring Toronto sites for a new Bills stadium. If they win we might have a “Major League” situation on our hands; The purposeful sabotage of the Bills management the next six years so they have justification for their plans to move. Let’s not forget Bon Jovi has already told a little white lie in this story already. Towards the end of last season, a CBS Sports report stated he had shown interest in buying the team. The problem was owner and founder Ralph Wilson was not dead yet, so having that interest revealed publicly was uncouth. Back then Bon Jovi’s spokesman said: “It’s preposterous to say he’s had any discussions with the Bills and Erie County.” Technically, that may be true. But it’s obvious a plan to target the Bills was already being established even if he hadn’t talked to directly to any stakeholders at the time. So perhaps Buffalo fans have a legitimate reason to be concerned even though Sunday’s letter promises otherwise.
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