The Buffalo Bills recently announced that they’ve hired former Detroit Lions chief playcaller Jim Schwartz to be their defensive coordinator. Schwartz will replace Mike Pettine, who the Cleveland Browns have hired as head coach. On paper this may seem to have little to do with Toronto, but I think differently.
I did most of my growing up about a two-hour drive southwest of Toronto, not far from the Michigan border and directly across Lake Erie from Ohio. Essentially, our U.S. television stations were broadcast out of Detroit and Cleveland. At 1 pm on Sundays, on our TVs, it was Lions or Browns.
At age eighteen or so, in early September, I crammed all of my worldlies into the old Ford Maverick and drove northeast up Highway 401, to spend four years drinking Molson Export at the University of Guelph. U. of G. is just outside the Greater Toronto Area, and on my first Sunday there, the Buffalo Bills played at 1 pm. The following Sunday, it was the same again. A Bills jersey was easily the most common piece of NFL gear on campus. As I made more and more friends from the GTA, I typically found that even if they weren’t Bills fans first and foremost, they had a soft spot for them. I watched the Bills lose their fourth straight Super Bowl at a local roadhouse, and when the game was over, the owner cleared the dance floor so that he could set fire to his Jim Kelly jersey.
These days I live in Toronto, and around here if you have what they call “basic cable,” your Sunday early-game is still pret’-near guaranteed to be the Bills. That’s just the way of it. We’re in Bills Country.
This means that going forward, the NFL defensive coordinator you’ll see most often in this neck of the woods is Jim Schwartz. Aside from Schwartz’s extensive experience and success in that very role with the Titans (under Jeff Fischer), I believe there are a couple of other reasons he might be a good fit for the Bills. First off, the sports fans of both Buffalo and Toronto are very high on hockey, so they don’t mind a bit of aggression between the whistles. Jim’s last team, the Detroit Lions, developed quite a reputation for that under his tutelage. Second, I hear that Jim is a big music fan, so when Bon Jovi buys the Bills and moves them to Toronto (It’s a real rumor! Look it up!), Jim’ll be hobnobbin’ with hair-band royalty and moving to a city with one of the best damn music scenes in North America … okay, let’s just say Toronto is home to a lot of great musicians and music venues.
So, although it may seem a bit premature to welcome Jim to Toronto now, given that he isn’t scheduled to be here on official business till December (when the Bills host the Falcons at the Rogers Centre), I’m gonna do it anyway.
Welcome to Hogtown, Jimmy boy!
Eh Jimbo, if you help the Bills win a Super Bowl, you might get presented the keys to two cities, and in that event you’ll probably be taking the Toronto handoff from this guy:
… because he ain’t steppin’ down anytime soon.
(photos credited to O.Canada.com and Getty Images)