We could have seen this coming a mile away. The day after a hard hit from Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry sent Buffalo Bills safety Aaron Williams to the hospital for tests - all of which reportedly came back negative - the wideout was being vilified by thousands of people all over the Internet and on social media. The vast majority of Landry's critics have never once stepped onto a field to play a single down of football, at any level, yet nevertheless feel that they're somehow qualified to pass judgement on Jarvis Landry.
One such individual is Tim Graham, of the Buffalo News. Graham went so far as to refer to Landry as Williams' 'cocky assailant'. Really, Tim? If you're going to call a professional athlete, who's been playing organized football for more than a decade, an assailant, are you suggesting that Mr. Landry is guilty of a criminal act? Because, if you are, I'm sure his agent, who is, of course, a licensed attorney, would like to have a word with you. The above comment, regrettably, seems to exemplify the prevailing mentality of our wanting to rush to judgment and jump to conclusions, about people we don't even know, in today's society. Times have changed precipitously, in terms of football's inherent physicality, over the past quarter century or so. In December, 1987, in a Monday night game at Joe Robbie Stadium, New York Jets defensive end Marty Lyons decked Dolphins Hall of Fame center Dwight Stephenson during an interception return, instantly ending his career. Stephenson's leg was broken and his knee ripped to shreds; he still wears a brace today, just to walk, but in the absence of the Internet in those days, as well as Twitter, etc, barely a word was said the next day. In our recollection, there wasn't even so much as a penalty flag thrown. Stephenson was carted off the field, Miami's backup center strapped on his helmet and play continued.
Somewhere between the virtual non reaction to Dwight Stephenson's injury in 1987, and the 'The-Sky-Is-Falling-And-The-League-Needs-To-Rewrite-The-Rule-Book' reaction to what happened on Sunday, there is a middle ground, and that's what we, as fans, need to try and keep in perspective. And speaking of fans, as we've said many, many times, Bills fans, in general, are incredible. We don't visit the Jets' or Patriots' SB Nation sites, but we stop by the 'Buffalo Rumblings' page regularly, and we've found Bills fans to be every bit as polite and engaging to visitors on their site as they are passionate about their beloved football team, and they've been nothing but great to us. And although the rivalry between the Bills and Dolphins has been a long and heated one over the years, it's also one of the cleanest rivalries in all of sports, in our opinion, both on the playing field as well as among the fans. Former Bills coach Marv Levy lives here in Chicago, and we had a wonderful conversation with him a few years ago; he was amazed by all the things we still remembered about him from his coaching days. We have never read or heard of a single incident of a fan from either team being harassed when attending a game in the opposing team's city. It is our fervent wish that this continues to be the case, and that Aaron Williams can return to the Bills' starting lineup for their next game. We can also just about guarantee you that no one on the planet feels worse about this than Jarvis Landry. As for those individuals who see fit to recklessly make inflammatory statements that have no merit whatsoever, shame on you.