Originally posted on Buffalo Wins  |  Last updated 11/28/11

Stevie Johnson is an emotional guy. However, he's not a showboat or a glory hound. Spend a few minutes reading his Twitter feed or listening to an interview and you realize that he is a humble person, a family man, and a lover of life. But he's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination just like you or I are not. The same passion that feeds his enthusiasm for the game and his fans can lead him into trouble. We saw that yesterday with his controversial touchdown celebration that mocked Plaxico Burress and eventually led to a 15 yard penalty that proved costly in a close game. The media and fans exploded with anger at Stevie on the Internet and the printed page. The fans took this opportunity to insinuate that Stevie isn't a Buffalo kind of guy. He's a diva, a spoiled superstar who shouldn't be re-signed. 

 

You know what? This kind of talk is ridiculous. A group of the populace want to paint a picture of Stevie that isn't necessarily true for starters. Just read what I wrote above and do a little research. The second part and the point of this article is that Buffalonians tend to lampoon stars in this town. If you don't fit the lunch pail, blue collar mentality of your average Western New Yorker, you're obviously not one of us. Joe mentioned a couple players in his recap post from last night, but you all know the names: Hasek, McGahee, Lynch, Miller and even Fitz and Stevie now. We take ancillary moments like touchdown dances or being grumpy with the media and instantly distance ourselves from these players. It's the "If you're not with us, you're against us" mentality, which is so far from the truth. 

I think part of the problem is some of the most popular players in Buffalo sports history fit in well with the blue collar mentality. Jim Kelly, Pat LaFontaine, Thurman Thomas, and Chris Drury were all individuals the fan base could relate to. Whether it was Kelly hosting parties for his teammates after games or Drury and Thomas absolutely killing themselves on the field/in the arena, we felt like we could get behind them as they seemed to be cut from the same cloth as us. LaFontaine was a stylish, skilled skater but he just looked like the kid next door that we felt like we knew him intimately. We embraced these players as warriors and as true Buffalo boys.

This kind of metric in the type of player we like has set a lot of those other players up for failure in our eyes. Now I know McGahee isn't the best example as I can't sit here and type this pretending his words about our city didn't piss me off. But you need to remember that he uttered those things after we freaked out over his "put an NFL team in Toronto" comment. And let's take it from another player's perspective, and that's Ryan Miller. I genuinely think Ryan likes us. Yeah, he gets moody when the fans boo him and probably is similar to Drury in not wanting to be hassled at Wegmans. But I remember in 06-07 when Ryan spoke about the special relationship between the Sabres and the Buffalo fans. I truly believes he "gets us" and want so bring the Stanley Cup home for those fans who were chanting his name in last year's playoff vs Philly when he robbed Danny Briere. But it probably is tough when you can't seem to live up to the ideal Buffalo type of player and fans want to nitpick your every move and thought.

We go bonkers with joy when players like Matt Ellis or David Nelson play their heart out, but at the same time still call Thomas Vanek lazy because he's not a grinder. I've had talks about this with one of my co-workers about hockey - we just can't accept certain players for who they are sometimes, namely skilled, smooth offensive players since they're not the tough, grind it out two-way forwards we covet. Players like Miro Satan and Derek Roy will not always wow you with their effort and physicality, but sometimes you just need guys who can pick their spots and dangle in the other teams' zones. Tim Connolly also comes to mind. But Mark, Satan and Connolly were soft and un-inspired, you say. I would argue they weren't always that way and if expectations were to make them into Rob Ray with skill, it was just never going to happen. Unfortunately as fans we get into our head a certain way we expect *everyone* to play and too many cannot meet that expectation.

I want to say that I'm just as guilty as the next person when it comes to judging players in this manner, so don't think I'm just pointing the finger outwards. But maybe instead of crying out that we need "x" type of player, perhaps we should look at ourselves and question why we want to run these stars out of town. As George Costanza once said, "it's not you, it's me." We wear the underdog persona not only as a badge but as a tattoo that is so ingrained that we can't see any other way. We love the kids the Sabres call up from Rochester, but once they get the big contract, they've suddenly become bigger than us and unrelatable. And how dare they underachieve as we never give less than 100% at our jobs, right? Hogwash.

I think part of the problem that causes this sports view here is the lack of championships. If we had just that one trophy, maybe we wouldn't be ready to blow up on the players who are supposed to lead us to the promised land. We put them high up on a pedestal, but at the first sight of a losing streak rush hard to push them right off. And God forbid they act disinterested or lack any ounce of passion as we will not stand for that. That's not Buffalo!

So while we bash on Stevie and question his ability to be a #1 receiver, remember this...for most of the day vs the Jets he outplayed the best corner in football, Darrelle Revis. Let's embrace the good things and hope he learns from his mistakes (to be honest, the larger error was the dropped pass in the 4th quarter). Let's not chase him out of Buffalo as he really is the kind of person that could become the face of the franchise. Without sounding like his mom, let's give him a chance.

Check out Mark on Twitter

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Chiefs GM John Dorsey was ‘blindsided’ by firing

Report: LaMarcus Aldridge may want trade away from Spurs

Horry believes Lakers will distance themselves from LaVar Ball

Report: Bulls trade Jimmy Butler to Minnesota for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, No. 7 pick

Top 10 takeaways from the 2017 NBA Draft

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

John Calipari thinks the one-and-done system is working just fine

Luke Walton responds to LaVar Ball saying Lonzo will lead Lakers to playoffs

Report: Spurs, Cavs trade talks now include LaMarcus Aldridge

LaVar Ball says ‘Zeus and Jesus’ told him Lonzo would go to Lakers

Cavs are reportedly talking about a trade for Danny Green with Spurs

Kings reportedly showing major interest in Andre Drummond

Sports & Politics Intersect: Washington gets a rare win

The 'NBA Draft going back to school?' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Gary Payton Award for best trash talk of the year

It’s quarterback contract silly season, starting with Derek Carr

Feeding your roundball addiction through the summer months

2017 NBA Mock Draft

Box Score 6/22: Emotion-filled Knight for Pens fans, Preds fans... and Knicks fans

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'Golden Knights will begin with a Fleury of activity' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Ricky Davis Award for most irrationally confident shooter

It's time for Satchel Paige Day in Major League Baseball

Which vets the Vegas Golden Knights should build around

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Sports & Politics Intersect: Washington gets a rare win

The 'NBA Draft going back to school?' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Gary Payton Award for best trash talk of the year

It’s quarterback contract silly season, starting with Derek Carr

The 'Golden Knights will begin with a Fleury of activity' quiz

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Feeding your roundball addiction through the summer months

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Ricky Davis Award for most irrationally confident shooter

It's time for Satchel Paige Day in MLB

Which vets the Vegas Golden Knights should build around

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker