Originally written on Buffalo Wins  |  Last updated 8/20/12

A few months ago, Matthew Stewart and I had a lively discussion about whether the Vince Young signing would create a QB controversy. We went back and forth for a bit and at one point, Matthew made a great point about Young. I'm paraphrasing, but it went something like this:

"Buffalo loves athletes who are famous. Young sucks but he's famous. That's why we are talking about it."

Bingo. That's exactly right. That quote probably fits Shawne Merriman as well.

Never has a free agent - who mind you, was cut, signed, injured, re-signed, injured again, and cut - gotten so much credit for doing things like bringing Nick Barnett and legitimacy to a market. Seriously, Buffalo? Culture change? Let's win 10 games in a season before we start talking about a culture change. The ante has definitely been raised in this town with the Bills, but frankly, the Nick Barnett signing looks like child's play when compared to the deals we have seen over the last 9 months. I'll admit, recruiting efforts by players happen in all professional sports, but that's the point. It happens everywhere. It is played out and shouldn't be used to argue that the Merriman signing wasn't a waste.  It was a waste. Period. The guy played on the field for 10 minutes and that was it. If the Terrell Owens signing - remember he was suppose to bring legitimacy here - was a wasted signing, so was this.

Now, I understood the move then, because the Bills were fricken winless and needed a pass rusher, and Merriman was there for the taking. I get all that. No criticism here for the signing. It was a low risk, high reward signing. However, it didn't work and there's no way to say it did. None.

I don't care how many players come out and say they love Merriman. Of course Nick Barnett will say Merriman played a key part in recruiting him, because, well, they are boys and his boy just got cut. Not to mention, we are talking about Nick Barnett here. It is not like 20 other teams were banging on his door. Trust me, if Merriman wasn't here, the Bills would have just added a portion of the 8 million bucks they paid him to the offer they made Barnett.

So, what is with this hoopla saying the signing wasn't a waste? Is it just media members trying to get people to call into their radio shows? Of course. But that happens all the time. What about the fans? It all goes back to the fame sentiment. Merriman got the same love that TO and Vince Young got. They were famous people who we took a chance on. Famous people who were years away from their primes, and yet, we kept on giving them chance after chance to win us over. And when they didn't? Well, we just decided to let them win us over anyway because they are famous. It is just like when a famous actor continues to do bomb movies and yet, people still love the guy because he's a star. They remember the days when he was great. They hold onto them and find any sort of way to revel in the past greatness.

Heck, that's probably why I liked the Merriman signing. He was a name. He was famous. We need famous people in a town that truth be told, doesn't have many household names. We may hate ESPN, but we love when there's a Buffalo connection on there. Hate to say it, but we are a small-time town and because of that, we tend to overemphasize whenever someone famous comes to town.

When that asshole walked across Niagara Falls, the whole city went crazy about it. Why? Because being a daredevil is so fricken cool? No. Because it was going to be on national TV. Hence fame. We are ***********. If you put the people of Buffalo in Hollywood, we would be a walking TMZ, ooooohing and awwwwwing at the stars. I'm sure other cities would be the same way, but we'd be going bonkers over Mario Lopez, who recently visited Buffalo and was given some sort of proclamation from the mayor in which we'd celebrate Mario Lopez Day. Yes, I wish I was making it up.

So for those who think it wasn't a waste of a signing, I think you are just in love with the star that Merriman used to be. I think you like the coolness of signing a name player - a guy who was on Entourage and has been at the Espys more times than Stuart Scott. Old stars will always have fans, but, you kind of wish he would have brought his star here. I would have loved to write how Merriman was a role player on the defense. An old veteran, who had seen better days but could still show something on the field. The Art Still or Doug Gilmour of the squad. He was a likable guy when he spoke. He sounded like a warrior or an actor excepting his Oscar. Humbled, bold and determined. Would have made a great story. Alas, it is a script that died on the cutting room floor. So fans, just let it die and admit it was a loss.

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