I had this week’s commentary almost replete in its content. But then, I back peddled like Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore and applied the reverse thrusters of a jumbo jet on a small runway after watching the local nightly news — which I intentionally viewed — to catch a special feature that many people in Buffalo were giving the heads up on social media.
I know a handful of Buffalonians claim to read this article loyally every week which is why I want to touch on a local Western New York topic briefly. Please allow me to upsurge recognition of Joe Buscaglia — Senior Sports Reporter and Buffalo Bills expert for Channel Seven, Eyewitness News — for the great story that aired on the 11 O’clock News Wednesday evening.
They paid a well deserved, very classy and well produced tribute to Jeff Sgroi, a” known by everyone” West Seneca native. Well liked, generous and respected both personally and professionally, Jeff was a long term personal friend of mine and almost everyone I know.
Jeff passed away unexpectedly in early February, much too young at just 45 years old. The short, but very informational segment was very effective touching on how much of an impact Jeff had mentoring teenagers while coaching baseball at Saint Francis High School and lead in to how the season has been dedicated in his honor to his memory. If you knew Jeff and did not get a lump in your throat or a tad teary eyed watching this feature you indeed are” ice.”
The story made mention of how much local charitable work and resources Jeff provided different organizations throughout the entire community. Jeff is not just leaving behind his impactful admired legacy; he also has left behind generous resources to make significant upgrades at the Saint Francis Facility.
It was my honor to graduate high school with Jeff followed by enjoying his company at many Buffalo Bills and Sabres games, college bars and of course the road trips to seven Kentucky Derby’s with him plus the extra trip to Louisville for one “Junior Mints” Finaldi’s wedding extravaganza.
Attending Jeff’s 30th Birthday soiree was a privilege to me because Jeff was friends with so many people from so many places, cracking that guest list was not a given. As busy as he was, he attended both my stag and wedding so many years ago which now means the world to me.
Many thanks to Joe Buscaglia At Channel Seven for choosing to cover this story that celebrated a small portion of Jeff’s larger than life generosity, the positive happiness he carried with him and displayed with that one of a kind grin everywhere and every time you would cross paths with him — Usually in the Jim Kelly Club on Sundays or a ton of evenings in the 200 level Harbor Club area at the Sabres Games.
Saying that Jeff will be missed immensely is a gigantic understatement and being that most people reading this Buffalo Bills section have some connection to Buffalo and most likely knew Jeff, being as involved in so much and as popular as he was, this tribute both on channel seven and right here on this very page, HAD TO BE DONE. Rest in Peace Jeff.
Things we know about the Bills this week:
Fantasy Football: Ranking the top ten RBs of 2016
Fantasy Football: Tom Brady, Patriots poised for a big year
2016 Preview: A preview of the AFC South
Throwback Thursday: The short-lived 49ers & Seahawks rivalry
J=Justification. Just try to stay positive. I take full responsibility for always claiming this is the best time of the Buffalo Bills season because they are undefeated at 0-0 and all teams are on even playing ground. Fans are full of playoff hope and that is justified most off seasons with moves made that may or may not take some convincing to put them over the top.
I am not too hard on fans including myself because after all; 16 seasons with no playoffs is quite hard to swallow. Numb may be how most fans get through each season and not due to the cold weather or the tailgating beverages. I know I criticized Negative Stanley several times in recent weeks for being pessimistic about drafting an injured Shaq Lawson and other moves Doug Whaley made. Stanley was convinced he dropped to the Bills for reasons and the other teams were not just passing on some stud that was supposed to already be off the board.
Even if Lawson did aggravate a pre-existing injury and it is not a fresh new one from working out with the Bills, if he plays half of the season and becomes a stud for the next six to eight seasons, then sign me up. I have only one question that would be to help me process this before I go to the chiropractor the next time. The quandary I have that is not being addressed like all of Hillary Clinton’s scandals, why didn’t Lawson have the surgery right after his college season ended?
The answer is most likely because his draft ranking already dropped him to 19th and with potential rumors of his injury and surgery, Lawson could have dropped complete rounds as opposed to places in the first 20 picks. Doug Whaley has been preaching that Shaq is having the surgery ” for the team” so he is healthy when they really need him for a long haul. That being said, doing a team a favor as a ” team guy” would be admitting the injury and having it operated on right away instead of playing as a rookie nowhere near 100 percent which is what he was in the process of doing.
He is not the number one over pick predicted as a generational player like Bruce Smith was. We should not act like he would be stepping in week one being some kind of monstrous rookie sack machine, although that would be nice. Would that have been fantastic? You bet it would but mid-to-late first round draft picks sometimes struggle to even get on the field, although the Bills leadership had already anointed him starting week number one prior to the surgery decision.
Negative Stanley is drooling like a starving wild dog over this latest development. If you really want to celebrate grab the family and head out to Chuck E Cheese partying because the shoulder surgery was a great success in New York. Yippee! I will not finish that famous one liner by Bruce Willis from the Die Hard movies. Do you think people yell Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuce when he does well on the movie set? Stop me at any point and force me to digress…….I digress….
E= Every now and again people like Negative Stanley have a day in the sun. A day in the spotlight. An” I Told You So moment”. I do have to admit when I heard Sammy Watkins went down and realized our defending rushing title can now be focused on much more aggressively by a defensive coordinator without a healthy Watkins like the beginning of last season, I got a bad feeling.
The Shaq and Sammy news were followed by Archer being placed on the Reserve/Did Not Report list, as impactful or not that his future held with the Buffalo Bills, being seduced by Darth Stanislaus to the Negative Side became much harder to resist.
F= Four of the Bills draft picks have been inked with the most recent signing being third round pick Adolphus Washington. He joins Kolby Listenbee, Kevon Seymor and Jonathan Williams who are all now under NFL contracts, fulfilling a dream and accomplishment a very exiguous select group of young men get to experience in their lifetime.
F= Fairburn covers the Buffalo Bills for Syracuse.com and The Post Standard. He announced on Twitter today that a reliable ESPN source reported that the Bills are entertaining free agent wide receiver Andre Roberts this evening, who was drafted in the third round by Arizona where he found some early success before signing with the Redskins after his rookie contract expired.
He was cut two day ago by the Skins to free up room under the cap and has multiple teams interested in meeting with him. Conflicting reports exist on how much time Watkins will miss. Some reports have him back for training camp and pre-season and others have him missing possible regular season time.
However, only time will tell Bills fans.