The Gods of Football Visit Buono

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2017 MVP
2017 MVP
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Sat Oct 07, 2017 11:58 am


It was a stunning, cloudless early October day. The Football Gods were bored, tossing a football back and forth, as they sat comfortably on a billowy cloud.

“Did you watch the Lions/Hamilton game?” asked the God of Football Past.

“That is too talented a team for such ineptitude. They’ve lost five of their last six games" the God of Football Present responded: “Wally is highly skilled at deflecting fans and the media away from the real problem".

“Heck, Buono brings football reporters into his office and chews them out if they write an article he doesn’t like". He intimidates them and he’s good at it”.

“History can teach us a lot” the God of Football Past continued. “There has been a script for talented Leos quarterbacks in the Buono/Dorazio era in B.C. “Look at Dave Dickenson. He was smashed to pieces, concussed, and suffered numerous injuries during his seasons with the Leos. He gave up golf after only his second season in a Leo uniform because he was in too much pain.

He only started about a third of the games he was in a Leos uniform and no wonder. He started just 3 regular season games in 2004 and three times in 2007 . He was sacked 65 times in 2005 and 56 times in 2006. Casey Printers played injured in both 2004 and 2005. He started the last 7 games of 2005 while only being able to throw underhanded at practice and in pre-game because his shoulder was causing him so much pain”.

“I remember Printers in 2010” said the God of Football Present. “Buono played him on a knee that required knee construction surgery while criticizing his play. Not a word that he was injured. Buck Pierce was an exciting young quarterback when he joined the Lions. A few years later, injured from head to toe, he was thrown on the scrap heap, as Dickenson was before him”

“I remember Buck Pierce when he first played for the Leos. He was an exciting player with so much natural poise. When Buono released him, he had been injured so often that he wasn’t the same player. He seemed to have lost his confidence.

“‘It was good to see Travis Lulay’s second coming” added the God of Football Future. “Most had written him off. After those first two full seasons as the Leos starting quarterback, he got injured a lot. He missed a lot of games in 2013, almost all of 2014, and he played miserably in 2015 before he was injured again”.

“He looked like a different quarterback this season” the God of Football Present exclaimed. “It was more than his shoulder finally healing. He was so poised in the pocket, in ways he wasn’t before”.

“He’s essentially been an offensive coach the past couple of seasons” noted the God of Football Future. He’s the one explaining to Jones on the sidelines what the opposition defense is doing. He was also mentally rested while still practicing the position.

The God of Football Future interjected. “I kinda feel sorry for Jonathan Jennings. He has elite tools. He had one of the best of the best seasons for a Leo quarterback ever in only his first full season as a starter”.

“Leos quarterbacks usually play their best football in their early days” emphaxized the God of Football Past. “Look at Printers. He was remarkable in his first full season in 2004. Same for Buck Pierce in his first full season in 2008, Travis Lulay in his first full season in 2011, and Jonathan Jennings in his first full season in 2016”.

“What the hell happens?” asked the God of Football Present. “They should be getting better with time”.

“Doesn’t work that way in the Buono regime” exclaimed the God of Football Past. ‘They quickly get worn down. The hits, sacks, and injuries take a toll. They get mentally worn down quickly too. Every defensive coordinator knows the Buono playbook. It’s been used for decades. Why do you think they get blown out so often in playoff games?”

“The LIons offence requires not only a lot of talent but a very high level of execution to make it work. To add to the woes, Dorazio’s offensive lines do not provide very good pass protection. Yet, every Leo quarterback from Dickenson to Jennings, to even Lulay this season, has been criticized by Buono for not getting rid of the football quickly enough”.

All those hits, the high levels of execution required, and all the mental pressure to execute at such a high level, gets to them. They start improvising and developing bad habits and they also try to do too much to make the offence work. Eventually they lose their confidence.

"Dickenson couldn’t will the Leos to victory over the Argos and Damon Allen in 2004 nor could he get the offence moving in the West Final in 2005 against the third place Eskimos or in 2007 against the Riders. Dickenson had to use his legs to pull out victory in the 2006 Grey Cup against a lousy 6th place Montreal defense".

The God of Football Past continued expressing his angst. “Buck Pierce couldn’t do it in the 2008 playoffs nor could Printers in 2009. Lulay couldn’t do it in 2010, 2012, or 2013. Glenn couldn’t do it in 2014 nor could Jennings/Lulay in 2015 or 2016".

"The B.C. Lions, under Buono, have only played in the Grey Cup game once in the last 10 years and that was 2011, whether he was coaching or his hand-picked successor was coaching. How many of those playoff losses were blowouts?”.

“But what a 2011 season that was” the God of Football Present chimed. “After going 0-5 and 1-6 it was a magical ride the rest of the way”.

“Yeah, but it would never have happened had we not intervened” said the God of Football Future. Remember? The Lions had gone 8-10 under Buono in their two previous seasons. Fans and media were calling for Buono to step aside as Head Coach in 2010 and that pressure had mounted even more in early 2011, as the Leos had another horrible start to their season”. And look at the talent they had in 2011. They should never have started 0-5 or 1-6”

“It was a tough decision at the time” the God of Football Present noted. We debated it for days before we decided to pay a nighttime visit to Buono’s bedroom during the bye week of 2011”.

“Yeah, but Buono only thought he’d had some type of visionary dream during the bye week of that 2011 season” grumbled the God of Football past. He still thinks that it was his vision that allowed Benevedes to use a rotation on the defensive line after the bye week in 2011. Benevedes had lobbied hard for it to no avail prior to that bye week.

When the defensive line moved into a five and even a six man defensive line rotation for the remainder of the 2011 season, Brent Johnson, Khalif Mitchell, Khereem Smith, Keron Williams, Eric Taylor, and Aaron Hunt shut down the run and got incredible pressure on opposing quarterbacks. It was the defensive line pressure that was the difference maker" concluded the God of Football past.

It was me that convinced Buono to allow Chap to open up the offence” said the God of Football Present. "One of the most successful plays that season was a fake dive to Harris with Lulay running a misdirection bootleg".

“It was the right decision at the time for us Football Gods to pay a visit to Buono, short term, but it was the wrong decision for the longer term” the God of Football Past interjected.

The God of Football Past often got upset when lessons of the past were not learned. “Buono never learned anything from our visit once that season was over” mumbled the God of Football Past. Instead Buono retired thinking and saying that he was a ‘legend’. We should have left things alone”.

“You agreed with our decision at the time” concluded the God of Football Future. “You said it was the right thing to do for the fans and the players. You said it was unfair that the Leos players were being unfairly disadvantaged by Buono’s schemes and black and white thinking in 2011".

"The Lions defense had given up an average of 32 points per game when the Lions started the 2011 season at 0-5. They finished the season only giving up 21 points per game. Lulay looked awful running that awful offence early that season. The offence clicked after our visit to Buono. We had to do it".

“Yeah, well I thought he would have changed his thinking” interjected the God of Football Past. "Instead he has remained stuck in his narcissistic ways!”

“Do you mean by that, that Buono is selfish?” asked the God of Football Future.

The God of Football explained: “Narcssism isn’t just about selfishness. It’s an entire way of thinking and being. It’s about being controlling and manipulative, it’s about ego, blaming ,and scapegoating, it’s about grandiosity like Buono's ‘legend’ comment, and its about a need for admiration.

"Buono himself has said that he wished that he wasn’t such a ‘cold’ person. My comment is about a personality type that is rigid and fearful underneath. It’s really about ‘stuckness’, a mode in which someone doesn’t learn from the past. But its also about arrogance and don’t think Buono isn’t arrogant or he would make alterations to his schemes. The problem is that Buono thinks the only problem is that his players are not executing his ‘great’ scheme properly”.

“Do you really think Buono is fearful?” asked the God of Football Future.

“Of course, he is” said the God of Football Past. "It gets masked as conservatism. Buono would rather not take a chance, even if the odds are highly in his favor, than be criticized. You get less criticism by coaching the way he does and Buono does everything to avoid criticism. Scapegoating a player is his favorite tactic”.

“So. you don’t think we should intervene again” asked the God of Football Present. “We’ll need to make up our minds quickly. This is a bye week. The Lions are in danger of missing the playoffs and once again the fans and players are being unfairly disadvantaged, as in 2011".

"Maybe Jennings will start to play better again” said the God of Football Present.

“You know that won’t likely be enough” the God of Football Future responded. "Quarterback play is the most important playing position on a football team but that doesn’t resolve pass protection problems, predictable play calling, and wasting talent with plug and play concepts. It doesn’t solve giving up so many big plays on defense".

“I know that” the God of Football Past responded. "But Buono doesn’t deserve another Grey Cup victory so he can retire again thinking that he is Gods’ gift to football coaching. He should have stayed retired but he thought he was so special, that all our Leos needed was him on the sidelines and he would be hoisting the Grey Cup again"

"The man has a Jesus complex, for crying out loud. He thinks that all that is needed for victory is for his players to EXECUTE his great vision and that no matter how often he mucks around with the toys in the sandbox, all will be well because he is at the helm and he can do no wrong".

"Besides, I’m kinda pissed he undermined Benevedes and Tedford. Sure, they had their shortcomings but ‘Little Wally’ was Buono’s fault in the first place. He was the mentor and role model for Benevedes. Sure in hell didn’t’ work out as successfully as Hufnagel’s role modelling and mentoring for Dickenson”

The God of Football Past continued. “When Wally dumped Stubler and Chapdelaine at the end of 2013 I knew it was over for Benevedes. They were vet coaches. There was no way that Benevedes was going to take our Leos to the Promised Land with Washington and Jones. Tedford was saddled with too many of Wally’s hand-picked assistants, as well as put up with Wally’s controlling ways. Tedford lasted a season and one season is a long time for any Head Coach to put up with Wally’s meddling and controlling”

“Buono has his loyal supporters” contradicted the God of Football Present. “They don’t see things the way that you do. They are not as tough on him as you are, not even close. They point his overall coaching record, that he runs a tight ship, gets rid of vets at the right time, and generally he has talented teams. They point out his overall success in both Calgary and B.C".

‘Well, I’m not in favor of intervening again so Wally can pin himself on the cross again as the Savior” countered the God of Football Past. "He doesn’t deserve it. He does stupid things. His team is not playing for him. There is definitely something wrong with the Lions right now and it’s a heck of a lot more than Jennings not playing well".

"Winning can mask things that losing brings out. The players are complaining about the scheme and play calling. Travis just said they all need to self-scout, which was a polite way of putting some pressure on the coaching staff. I wish Travis Lulay was the Head Coach”

“We should intervene” the God of Football Future decided. “This is too unfair to the players and Leo fans, like it was in 2011. The players on this team have given too much effort for this to be happening”.

“Lions fans deserve to see Chris Rainey making guys miss in the open field and they deserve to see Jeremiah Johnson get more touches. The defensive backs need to be given some concepts in terms of knowing who to cover in zone defense. What is happening right now is beyond ludicrious!!”

“Well, its decided then, two to one” the God of Football Past sighed. "But I want you to know that I am doing this reluctantly. The last thing I will be able to stomach, if this works out, is Buono calling himself a legend again. We know that he doesn’t learn from experience".

"Just look at his lack of game planning and game management or lack of it as only a couple of examples. We gotta get him away from special teams coaching. It’s even worse than his Jumbo team coaching".

“Buono will likely stick around and coach another season if we don’t intervene” said the God of Football Future. “His ego is at stake and it’s a huge one. You’ll just have to put up with the Buono accolades, if our plan works, and there is no guarantee that it will anyway. Buono is our toughest assignment ever”.


That night, after a big dinner of seafood linguini, Pasquale Buono retired to bed. “If I want my horn to toot, I gotta get these players to execute” he said, over and over again, to himself”.

Buono found himself not feeling quite well. He wondered if the pasta dish he’d eaten had been a little ‘off’. He also felt confused. His Lions record was 6-7. Things weren’t supposed to have gone this way. He was a 'Legend'. He returned to the sidelines, knowing how talented this Leos team was or he would never have returned as Head Coach. What the hell was going on?

Calgary had decimated his Leos squad in the West Final and been fortunate to pull out a victory in the Semi-Final against the Bombers after giving up such a huge lead. But he had signed a number of free agents in the off-season and many CFL prognosticators had predicted the Lions would play in the 2017 Grey Cup. He was a Hall of Fame coach primed for a season in which he would hold the Grey Cup above his head before he walked into a sunset.

Now he and his coaching staff were under some duress. Perhaps he could inform the press that he needed to ‘mentor’ Khari Jones. That might be the answer. That ruse had worked before. He fantasized that his Lions would go on another magical ride, as they did in 2011. Then Buono fell asleep.

Suddenly, Buono’s bedroom window opened and a man with white hair, wearing an old leather helmet and a worn 1930’ football jersey appeared at Wally Buono’s bedroom window. Buono awoke, startled. “Get out of bed and touch my sleeve”, stated the God of Football Past. Buono ducked his head under the covers.

The God of Football Past threw a football at the lump under the duvet cover. Then he threw another and another. “Ouch, ouch, ouch” yelped Pasqaule, before sticking his head out from underneath the covers to try to figure out what was going on.

Buono: Who and what are you?
Spirit of Christmas Past: I am the God of Football Past.

Buono: Long past?
God of Football Past: No, your past.

“Touch my sleeve’ the God of Football Past now commanded, in a firm, resolute voice. He was poised with a football in his hand and Buono could still feel the stings of the God of Football Past’s previous throws. He threw a mean spiral.

Touch my sleeve and we will fly away together” repeated the God of Football Past and added “You have no choice Pasquale”

God of Football Past: Pasquale, Are you afraid?

Buono: Please call me Wally and don’t you realize that even though I am a Legend, I haven’t yet practiced learning to fly, Quite frankly, I haven’t had the time to learn. I’ve been too busy calling reporters into my office and making sure they understand the only problem we are having this season is a lack of player execution.

God of Football Past: Bear but a touch of my hand, and you will be upheld in more than this.

Buono” But why are you doing this? Don’t you realize who I am?

God of Football Past: Ah! Pasquale. You do not know the weight and length of the strong chain you bear. You began laboring on it again seven football seasons ago and, it is now a ponderous chain!

Buono: Why do I have this link of chain?

God of Football Past: The list is long and onerous. Let me give you one hint. Do you remember the numbers of times that you brought players into your office and demanded they take a major salary cut, even though they had signed a contract with you in good faith.

Do you remember what you said to them each time, when they said “they wouldn’t be able to afford the salary cut? Let me remind you.

You said “Are there no basement suites to share rent? Are there no food banks?

You've never seen the like of me before, have you Pasquale?

Buono: Never, and you know, you know, I wish the pleasure had been indefinitely postponed. What is your business with me?
God of Football Past: Your welfare.

Buono: My welfare?

God of Football Past: Your reclamation, again then. Now get out of bed now, touch my hand, and fly with me. We’ve done this once before, so quit fretting.

“My players will start executing’ Buono pleaded. “Shoot, shoot, shoot, just let me get them to execute”

“I won’t ask you again Pasquale” the God of Football Past responded in a voice that meant business. Pagquale could not bear to look but stuck his arm out from underneath the covers and touched the sleeve of the God of Football Past.

Suddenly Pasquale Buono was no longer in bed but flying over the Rocky Mountains, still holding the sleeve of the jersey of the God of Football Past.

“Where are we going” Pasquale asked, his voice frightened. “I’m too old to change” Buono exclaimed. “Leave me alone. Let June Jones use the run and shoot. I know football is just being able to execute. David Braley said I had a job for life, if I wanted it. He has confidence in me!”

“I don’t” said the God of Football Past. “You had a chance to learn your lesson in 2011. You did for a short time, but then you went back to your old rigid ways. You then undermined your two chosen Head Coaches. You’ve hired yes men as assistants because they will never question you but rather only sing your accolades. You hire on that basis, rather than hire based on ability.

You control rather than innovate You threaten, rather than inspire. You scapegoat rather than motivate. You blame and embarrass your players rather than adapt. There was a time in your life when you were humble or at least you pretended to be humble”.

“No more pleading Pasquale” added the God of Football Past. “Observe and learn from the past Experience is supposed to be a teacher, to help make you wise”.

Within seconds Buono was hovering high above a football practice field. He saw from above that the offensive players were wearing white practice jerseys and the defensive players were wearing red jerseys. All were wearing red football helmets as they went through football drills.

A man with black hair and an air of authority blew a whistle. The players quickly moved into different areas of the practice field. Buono at first didn’t recognize he was looking at a younger version of himself.

“What year is this?” Buono asked. “Its 1992 and that’s you as the young Head Coach/GM of the Calgary Stampeders? said the God of Football Past.

“I look so young” exclaimed Buono.

“You were” said the God of Football Past. "You had very limited experience prior to becoming the Calgary Head Coach and GM".
If memory correctly serves me, you only one season as a defensive coordinator before you became the Head Coach/GM of Calgary?”

“Do you remember how you were able to become the successful candidate for the job of both Head Coach and GM with the Calgary Stampeders, with such very limited coaching experience and no management experience?” the God of Football Past asked Buono.

“Yes” said Buono. "I really didn’t think I would get the job. I knew I was very inexperienced but I took a shot at it. Kwong had just hired Roy Shivers as his personnel director. Shivers had been with B.C. before. I prepared as well as I could for the interview with Normie Kwong”.

Why did Kwong publically say was the key reason that he hired you?” asked the God of Football Past.

Buono: Normie Kwong said that I was the most humble candidate of all the candidates that applied for the job of HC/GM and that had impressed him.

God of Fooball Past: Hmmmmmmmmmmmm!!

God of Football Past: You won your first Grey Cup in Calgary in the 1992 season, isn’t that correct?

Buono: “Yes, I did”.

“Is that John Hufnagel? Buono asked.

“Yes it is” replied the God of Football Past”. "What do you remember about him?"

Buono: He created a new offensive system that had never been seen before. It became known as the spread offence. Defenses didn’t know now to adjust to it. John also believed in giving the backup quarterbacks lots of practice reps and he was convincing. Plus, the players really respected very highly. Had Hufnagel wanted my job it could have been his. He was that highly regarded. He was very loyal to me.

“Heh, that looks like George Cortez, Tom Higgins, and Don Sutherin coaching the different units” Buono exclaimed and added “That looks like Doug Flutie throwing footballs. It is Doug Flutie. What a quarrterback. We had to pay him a million dollars in 1992 but he was the best.. Our offensive line was only average in 1991 but we were sacked the least in 1992”. Flutie was expensive but he was special. We lured him out of B.C. with big bucks to spend.

Buono: Heh, that looks like Jeff Garcia warming up to take practice reps next. Roy Shivers brought him n and thought he had great potential. He did a good job for us in Calgary too”.

Buono then observed George Cortez working with the Calgary offensive line at practice. The God of Football past asked Buono about Cortez. “He learned Huff’s offensive system and Huff prepared him well to take over as offensive coordinator when Huff left after six seasons" answered Buono.

Buono glanced once again over the practice field and then spotted Roy Shivers on the sideline. What did you think of him? Asked the God of Football Past.

Buono: “He was the best personnel man in the CFL during that time period and one of the two best personnel directors of all time, along with Bob O’Billovich. I was very fortunate that Kwong and Ackles gave me the two best personnel guys ever”.

Buono suddenly began to realize what he had said.

“So, in your first coaching gig, with only one season as a defensive coordinator in preparation for the role your career in Calgary, the Stamps became the best CFL team of the decade of the 90”s.

“Yes” said Buono proudly.

God of Football Past: So, you had the best personnel man in football in Roy Shivers bringing you the CFL’s best talent, you had John Hufnagel coaching the offence who brought you an offensive system that was innovative and ahead of its time, you had and a great coaching staff, and you had the CFL’s best quarterback because you had the money to steal away Doug Flutie from the Lions and pay him a million a season.

Do you remember Flutie saying, of his time in Calgary, how so lucky he was to have Huff as his offensive coordinator “In this league at that time, there were coaches and then there was Huff. Huff was a cut above” was what Flutie said about his time in Calgary. No mention of you though.

“Your Stamps finished first in the West for five seasons in a row from 2002-2007. Sounds like you got very fortunate in your first coaching job” noted the God of Football Past.

The God of Football Past asked Buono “Have you ever considered, that if you not been hired by Calgary for the HC job, or you didn’t have Roy Shivers in Calgary at that time, or that you didn’t have a boatload of money to spend on playersm or you didn’t have Doug Flutie setting quarterback records it could have turned out very differently?"

“Well you know, well you know, well you know …I never….never ever looked at it that way” responded Buono. “I guess you are correct in that I was fortunate that there were a lot of key things surrounding me that were key to my success in Calgary.

“So, in many ways, you are only as good as the people and the circumstances that surround you, would that be a fair statement to make?” asked the God of Football Past.

Have you ever asked yourself, Pasqaele, “if you had started your football Head Coaching career, say in Saskatchewan during that period of time your coaching career might have been very short lived?” asked the God of Football Past.

“Never thought about it’ responded Buono.

Suddenly the God of Football Past barked “Touch my hand again” and in a flash, the scene was gone.

The temperature suddenly was cold, as the God of Football Past, with Buono still holding his hand, hovered over another football field. This time they were hovering above McMann Stadium.

“What year is this?” Buono asked the God of Football Past.

“Its 2002” the God of Football Past answered. It’s the last game of the 2002 season”.

“The crowd looks very sparse” observed Buono.

“Yes, very sparse. Kinda looks like the same size of crowd you are now getting out for your football games in B.C. this season” responded the God of Football Past. “ Only 19,232 fans showed up for your final season home game of 2002.

But then again, your Stamps finished 6-10 and didn’t make the playoffs. Earlier in that 2002 season, 61, 481 fans had shown up to watch your Stamps play the Eskimos. But that was when there was still hope that your Stamps would be a successful team that season.

“It was a tough season” Buono admitted. "It was the second regular season in a row with a losing record. “The players didn’t execute and our talent was not as good as it had been in the past in Calgary”.

The God of Football Present noted: “Roy Shivers had moved on to Saskatchewan, isn’t that right? Hufnagel was coaching in the NFL, Don Sutherin was in Hamilton, Tom Higgins was in Edmonton, and George Cortez was coaching Jeff Tedford’s offence in California.

“Yes, that’s true”, Buono responded.

“So, Pasquale, would you not agree, looking back at your final season in Calgary, that you are only as good as the people who surround you?” the God of Football Past asked Buono.

“Well, it’s still mostly about execution. For some reason, our players didn’t execute very well that 2002 season and that was why we didn’t make the playoffs.

The God of Football Present sighed. “Take my hand again Pasquale”. Buono reluctantly touched the hand of the God of Football Past and suddenly they were flying back over the Rocky Mountains. They were up so high in the air that Buono could see the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

And then, in the flash of an eye, they were looking down at another practice field, but this time the players were either wearing orange or black.

“Do you recognize anyone” asked the God of Football Past.

Buono: “Why yes, that’s Bobby Ackles standing on the sideline, talking with Bob O’Billovich. I think that’s Dave Ritchie coaching the defense. Yes, it is!! That’s Dave Dickenson taking snaps behind center. Ackles got him signed for my first season in B.C. and I really wanted him. Smart quarterback!!

“It almost sounds very similar to your very successful early era in Calgary Pasgaule” said the God of Football Past. “There you had Kwong and now you had Ackles. There you had Shivers and now you had O’Billovich.

"Ackles and O’Billovich brought you a lot of talent in those early B.C. seasons. In both eras you began with an excellent quarterback who was also an excellent leader".

“What year is this?” asked Buono.

“Its 2006” The God of Football Past answered Buono. “You won the Grey Cup that season, as you well know. Dave Ritchie’s defense was the key to that Grey Cup winning season but your offence was good too, being led by Dave Dickenson and Geroy Simon.

"The 2003, 2004, and 2005 seasons had brought a lot of hope for a Grey Cup victory but there had been very disappointing playoff losses when it was anticipated that you would win. I believe, you had a string of finishing first in the West four times in a row, from 2004-2007, which almost duplicated your five first place finishes in Calgary during your early era there, is that correct?"

“Yes, it is” said Buono.

Do you not agree now, that the key to success is having talented people surrounding you, just as it was in Calgary?” asked the God of Football Past.

“It helps” Buono reluctantly conceded. But we won the Grey Cup in 2006 because our players executed. That was the key”. I don’t understand why other things like scheme and play calling keep coming up. The point is so moot. Football is simple, you just gotta execute”.

The God of Football Past was tempted to throw more footballs at Buono but managed to hold his temper in check.

Take my hand again Pasquale” was all that he said.

Suddenly they flew quickly through the night sky and then the scene changed again. Buono was now looking down at the Lions locker room. The players were cleaning out their lockers.

“What year is it now?” asked Buono.

“it’s the end of the 2010 football season” answered the God of Football Past. Your team finished the season with a losing 8-10 record for the second season in a row. Your team started the season with a 1-7 record. Your Leos had gotten progressively worse since 2007.

As you know, Bobby Ackles had passed in 2007. Dave Ritchie retired. Bob O’Billovich left for a GM job in Hamilton. You released Dave Dickenson at the end of that 2007 season. He had left your Leos, very unhappy, after dealing with the quarterback controversy you played such a role in creating, as well as the lack of protection he had been given that had led to so many of his injuries, plus the fact that you had offered Printers the starters job over him at the end of 2005, without even informing Dickenson.

“Do you remember what Dickenson said of that decision, at the time?” asked the God of Football Past.

“Not really” Buono answered.

The God of Football Past looked at Buono and said “Let me remind you”. He then replayed Dickenson’s words.

“I guess the ball is in Casey’s court. I did say to Wally, at the end of the season, don’t string me along but he hasn’t let me know. I guess he can’t until he gets Printers signed. I’m starting to see why Wally is not universally loved. When I came to Calgary, I heard certain guys struggling with the idea of Wally was their Coach and GM. It’s hard to get a straight answer.

Dickenson also added that if Casey went to the NFL and Buono said afterwards, he was planning to go with Dickenson the whole time “He would have trouble believing that”.

“Blew it again didn’t you” said the God of Football Past. ”Dickenson played hard for your Leos in that 2006 season but he didn’t play hard for you. When you criticized Dickenson publically in 2006 for not getting rid of the football quickly enough, Dickenson made the point clear. He responded publically to your comment by saying that he “didn’t play football for you, he played for his teammates”.

“But you didn’t get the message that it’s not a good thing to criticize your quarterbacks publically because you’ve done it to every quarterback since, even including Travis Lulay, following your loss to Edmonton”, isn’t that true?” asked the God of Football Past.

“I pay them good money to execute” said Buono. “If they don’t, then they should expect public criticism from me” said Buono.

“But you are paid good money to be the HC/GM Pasquale, but when a reporter writes a story that implies any criticism of your leadership, you bring the reporter in and give that reporter hell” stated the God of Football Past.

“You don’t like public criticism. In fact you do everything to deflect any criticism away. Don’t you think its hypocrisy to do what you hate for yourself?

“Guys, you know, you know, its about execution, you know” answered Buono.

“There are no guys here Pasquale, just me” said the God of Football Past. “You can’t play me. You can’t give me hell. You can’t kick me off the team plane or refuse an interview with me. Same old, same old wont’ work with me”.

My time with you is getting short Pasquale. We’re on the move again.

Pasquale felt the night air cold against his face. He closed his eyes when they flew through clouds. And then suddenly he and the God of Football Past were hovering above a cherry picker. Down below the cherry picker, Lions players were practicing in shorts and helmets.

“Can you see yourself Pasquale” asked the God of Football Past. “Yes, that’s me in the cherry picker” answered Buono.

“What the hell are you doing in the cherry picker” asked the God of Football Past.

“I can’t make out if the Head Coach is Benevedes or Tedford” said Buono. “My eyesight isn’t what is used to be”.

“Doesn’t matter” answered the God of Football Past. “What are you doing?”

“I’m mentoring” responded Buono.

“Like you mentored Chapdelaine” asked the God of Football Past. “Yes, said Buono.

“Well, you didn’t mentor Chapdelaine, retorted the God of Football Past. You don’t draw up offensive plays. You’ve never coordinated an offence. You don’t even wear a headset during games so you don’t even know what offensive plays are being called during a game” the God of Football Past barked at Buono. Why did you stop wearing a headset? You used one in early in your career in Calgary”.

“I’ve been quoted saying this in the past. Just do what you’re good at. What I do is I yell at people and I believe I can see how to make adjustments during the game. That’s all I do. I get mad at people, and then I try to help them as far as, ‘Here’s what I think you should do”.

God of Football Past: Well, obviously Mike Benevedes, your only choice to take over the reins from you in B.C took your comments to heart and viewed you as his role model. By the time you fired him, his players were not only sick of his slogans and his posturing but they were also sick of his shouting at them too.

But let’s get back to observing yourself in the cherry picker. Do you see that look on your face as you look down on your Head Coach at practice from the cherry picker”.

God of Football Past: “What do you see Pasquale?”

Buono: I see myself using my presence from up above in the cherry picker as a positive. It makes the players practice harder. It makes the Head Coach and assistant coaches realize even more so who is the boss and puts pressure on them to be at their best”.

God of Football Past: Look at your face. Can you see the arrogance? Do you not see that you are undermining your Head Coach. Do you not see that you are showing a lack of confidence in them? Do you not see that you are humiliating your Head Coach?

Buono: “Well, God of Football Past, I’ve been quoted saying this but I will repeat it for you. At times people see me as very distant and very cold and I say there’s two sides to all of us, and that (cold side) serves me well at times.”

God of Football Past: John Hufnagel mentored Dave Dickenson just as you did Mike Benevedes. But no one in Calgary calls Dickenson “Little Huff”. Hufnagel mentored Dickenson by role modelling and by teaching. Now Hufnagel pre-scouts for Dickenson and seems to do a hell of a job of it.

Do you think Hufnagel would ever stand in a cherry picker lording himself at one of Dickenson’s practices. I think not. But you don’t worry about those types of things do you. You humiliated Steve Burratto you’re offensive coordinator, in 2004, and who, by the way, was doing a hell of a job for you in 2004, both with your offence and working with Casey Printers. You shipped him up to the spotters booth and had your receiver coach Chapdelaine, come down to the sidelines to call the plays two thirds of the way through that season. How did that work for you?

Buono: That had nothing to do with anything. The players just didn’t execute in the Grey Cup that season.

God of Football Past: Well, just so you know, it’s the 2013 season. You fired Rich Stubler at the end of that season. The season before, in Stubler’s first season as defensive coordinator under Benevedes, he had set numerous records in coaching your Lions defense. You fired him at the end of his second season but before you fired him, you publically blamed him Hufnagel hired him about 5 seconds after your firing and Stubler went on to win a Grey Cup with the Stamps in his first season as the Stamps defensive coordinator. Any regrets?

Buono: None. I wanted Mark Washington as our defensive coordinator. I’m mentoring him to be our next Head Coach, although it will be very difficult for anyone to replace me. As you know, I am a Legend, so it’s a heavy load for anyone to attempt to fill my shoes.

God of Football Past: Didn’t’ you say that Normie Kwong hired you in Calgary because your humbleness stood out?

Buono: Guys, guys, you know, you know…its about execution. Players just gotta execute.

God of Football Past: Well, if it’s just about player execution, why did you fire Stubler. Obviously, it’s only supposed to be about player execution, not coaching.

Buono: Huh? I don’t get your point, you know, you know.

God of Football Past: My time with you is almost at its end Pasquale. I wyon’t bother showing you in the cherry picker, lording over Jeff Tedford either. Not only did he receive bad advice from you but he was also stuck with too many of your hand chosen assistants and your controlling ways. He was happy to be gone and used his out clause on his contract to get away from you.

Buono: It was good riddance on my part too. I drove him out.

God of Football Past: You decided that the only way for the B.C. Lions to win the Grey Cup again was to return to the sidelines. Yet, when you retired as the Head Coach of the Lions you said the following at your news conference:

I'm really not sad about it.. I do know, in my own heart, that another voice, another presentation, another leader is – I believe – what we need to again hoist the Cup. I just believe that that's going to help this organization to stay vibrant, stay strong."

When you fired Benevedes in 2014, you said “I think it's time to bring some freshness into the organization". But now, instead of a new leader or new freshness on the sidelines, you returned to the Head Coaching position. Why, did you do that?

Buono: I knew that the team needed me. Heck, look at my record. I retired as a Head Coach as a winner.

God of Football Past: Yes, you did. The media and fans had forgotten about those 8-10 losing seasons of 2009 and 2010 seasons and your horrible start to 2011. Forgotten were the calls for you to step aside from coaching during that time. All the criticisms of you, prior to 2011, were conveniently forgotten.

No one focused on the fact that your Leos team, with you as the Head Coach/GM or GM with your hand-picked successors had only played in one Grey Cup game since 2006.

After 2007, a lot of the advantages you’d enjoyed when from your early seasons as the Leos Head Coach and GM were no longer there. Ackles passed, O’Billovich left, and the SMS was introduced. You became the fance of the franchise. You have been in complete control. One Grey Cup berth in the last 10 seasons has been the result.

The miserable 2007 West Final upset loss to Saskatchewan, where you panicked in the second quarter, with the Riders leading us 13-10 and inserted a rusty Dickenson who struggled was forgotten as were the 2008, 2009, and 2010 seasons. You were restored to mighty status and worse of all, in your own mind, you were a football genius.

Also forgotten were your predictable schemes, the poor offensive line play for so many seasons that saw quarterback after quarterback seriously injured, your penchant for blaming players in public, the quarterback controversies you created, the playoff losses that should have been victories and your poor game management. You walked on water again.

Buono: They remembered me holding the Grey Cup in 2011, as they should have. And without me back on the sidelines again, the B.C. Lions wouldn’t be able to win the Grey Cup again.

God of Football Past: But if football is only about player execution and your Leos team was still using your systems and your schemes and your hand-picked assistants were coaching the team, why did they need you? As you’ve repeatedly said” It’s all about player execution!”

Buono: Well, guys, you know, you know, it’s all about player execution and ME. When we win, its because of me, when we lose, its due to a lack of player execution, you know, you know, you’re not getting it for someone who says he is a God, you know, you know. And don’t forget I am a god in my own way too - a football legend has god-like attributes. I was chosen, as a special individual, to fulfill this destiny.

God of Football Past: So, even with the things I have shown you tonight Pasquale, what you are telling me, is that you are not going to change. Do you realize that we football gods visited you during the bye week of 2011. You were at the brink. The intensity of the views that you retire from coaching at that point were powerful.

Buono: You know, you know, you may be an undigested bit of pasta, a crumb of Parmesan cheese a fragment of an underdone piece of shrimp. Every idiot who goes about with a new offensive scheme in the CFL should be boiled in his own pasta water.

God of Football Past: I see that it;s going to take more than me and past experience to get you to see that you need to change some of your ways, as it was the time before. You will be visited this night by two more Gods of Football this very night.

Buono: “Leave me to do things in my own way and good night to you”


And with that, Buono found himself back in his own bed. He pulled the blankets over his head and tried to fall asleep.

I must have had a nightmare, he thought to himself. “No wonder” he thought to himself. This season had been a nightmare so far. Out of the playoffs at this point.

“Why are the players not executing” he asked himself. “Why is Jennings not executing as he had last season? Why was the offensive line not executing? Why was the defense not executing? Why was the punt return team not executing?” Dam players would be making him look bad if not for his skill at making sure the players were being held responsible for all the losses, which of course they were”.

Suddenly, Buono heard the sound of feet beside his bed. He was too afraid to pull the covers back down and look.

Buono: Are you the God that the God of Football Past said would visit me tonight?

God of Football Present: I am

Buono: Off with you. Leave me alone in peace. I will get this team straightened around and the players executing. I’ve been given lots of credit for developing quarterbacks. I will get Jennings playing great again.

God of Football Present: How will you get Jennings playing great again? I want a straight forward answer!

Buono: I will yell at him when he comes to the sidelines. I will tell every reporter that he needs to throw the football quicker. I will tell him to run faster. I will tell him not to throw interceptions. I will tell him to throw only completions.

God of Football Present: Any idiot could tell him to do that. What specifically are you going to do to get him back to form?

Buono: I know, I know, I’m going to tell him to execute better. That’s it!!!

God of Football Present: When you came into this season Pasquale, you believed you were only one player away from being able to beat Calgary and win the Grey Cup this season. When you signed Chris Williams, you thought you had signed the missing piece to winning the Grey Cup this season.

Buono: I don’t understand it. Plus I signed a number of free agents. We should be leading the West. Guys, guys, you know, you know, its been a problem of a lack of execution.

God of Football Present. Well, the problem certainly couldn’t be YOU. You unpinned yourself from the cross to lead the Leos to the Promised Land in this your second season back at the helm. Is there anything different you could have done differently so far this season?

Buono: Can’t think of anything.

God of Football Present: How many of those free agents have been difference makers? Of all those free agent signings in the off-season, isn’t Chris Williams the only starter of the entire bunch of those free agent signings?

Buono: So what’s your point. Guys, we’re just not executing.

God of Football Present: You’ve often said that football games are won in the trenches. Yet you traded away a perennial All-Star in Jovan Olifioye, who could play both tackle positions as well as guard. He also never got injured. Instead you’ve been playing Antonio Johnson and Powell at tackle. You’ve given up the most quarterback sacks in the CFL so far this season. Any regrets?

Buono: I never regret anything because I never make mistakes. Our offensive line is just not executing. It’s certainly not the fault of Dan Dorazio, so before you ask that question, that’s answer. The offensive line has just not executed for him.

God of Football Present. Your offensive line has been more than porous Jennings got hurt this season due to a whiffed block by Faucault and Lulay got hurt running for his life when his protection broke down early.

But offensive line play and quarterbacking have not you’re your only problems. Your players have been critical of the play calling and use of personnel. Your defensive line has the least pressures and sacks in the CFL. Your punt return team, even with Chris Rainey is an embarrassment this season.

Buono: The lack of execution has become contagious. But we’re going to get it fixed. I told the players they can expect salary cuts if this keeps up. That should get them going in the right direction.

Buono: Can I ask you a question?

God of Football Present: Yes

Buono: Are you a God or a spirit.

God of Football Present: All football gods are spirits. Now touch my sleeve.

Buono: Do I have to?

God of Football Present: All you have to do is touch my sleeve and I will 'execute' the rest of this journey for you.

Buono touched the sleeve and suddenly they were both standing on a strut high above B.C. place.

Buono: Why is this roof not closed? The sky is clear and sunny and warm. I like our fans to enjoy a nice sauna on a summer evening while watching a football game.

God of Football Present: Quit focusing on the roof and look down at the game.

Buono: What game is this?

God of Football Present: It’s the opening game of this 2017 season. There is less than 90 seconds left in the game and you are trailing the Eskimos by a touchdown. Your offence has the football on your own 46 yard line. Its second and 10 yards to go. Quit watching yourself Pasquale. You’re biting your lip again. Let’s watch the game together. You describe what is happening.

Buono: Well, I don’t know what play is being called. I don’t wear a headset, as you know, you know.

God of Football Present: Just describe what you see.

Buono: Jonathan Jennings drops back to pass. It looks like he is going to be sacked. He’s already been sacked five times this game. Nope he gets it away. He’s throwing long. Its complete. Nick Moore just caught a 52-yard pass at the Edmonton 12 yard lne. What a throw. Run Nick! Nick is brought down on the Edmonton 2-yard line.

God of Football Present: Quite the play. Sensational!!

Buono: We just punched the football in over the goal line. We have the best red zone average in the CFL this season

God of Football Present: Yes, but there are also number of categories that you are leading that should be embarrassing. But I will get back to those.

Buono: Oh no, we just missed the convert. We would have had the lead. Now the game is tied 27-27. C’mon Mark. Get your defense ready!! There are only 46 seconds left in the game.

God of Football Present: Edmonton has the football on its own 32 yard line.

Buono: We gotta execute. Reilly drops back to pass. No pressure. He throws it deep. OH NO!!

Zylstra has just beaten Anthony Thompson. He just caught the football and now he is running. Tackle him! Thompson just tackled him at our 2-yard line. That is a 72-yard catch and run play! Dam!

God of Football Present: Keep describing what you are seeing Pasquale!

Buono: Reilly just tried to sneak it but he didn’t get over the goal line. He was stopped on our 1 yard line. Edmonton has just called a time out. Edmonton is bringing in their field goal team. I am now using my time out to freeze the kicker. That is why I am a Legend. I know what to do in these situations. The time out will really give Sean Whyte something to think about.

God of Football Present: Hopefully it will work but I wouldn't bet on it (shaking his head)

Buono: It didn’t. I mentored Whyte and therefore he handled the pressure. Whyte kicked it though the goal posts. We just lost the game. We just didn’t execute. We just didn’t make enough plays, you know, you know.

God of Football Present: You really think that is why you lost this game?
Buono: Of course it’s the reason we lost. I keep telling everyone. When you lose, your players didn’t execute. When we win, it’s because I am a Legend.

God of Football Present: Well, you got behind early because your quarterback was sacked five times and pressured heavily on every passing play. You don’t think that starting Facault at left guard, with no previous experience at the position was a factor? You don’t think that trading away your best offensive lineman in Olifioye in the off-season was a factor?

Buono: Players are replaceable. I’m the only one who is irreplaceable. Our offensive line just didn’t execute.

God of Football Present: Nick Moore made a heck of a reception on an incredible Jennings pass while under pressure to give you the shot of winning this game on offence. Moore had a 200 yard plus reception game this season. Tough not to see him not dressing for games these days. He would be your second leading receiver right now had you continued playing him. He was averaging over 16 yards per catch.

How is Chris Williams working out for you? He was supposed to be the missing piece for you on offence. He’s only averaging 11 yds. per catch, has only 1 touchdown reception and has not played as well as Moore. .

Buono: Well, he just has not been making plays like we thought he would.

God of Football Present: Well, perhaps you are not using him right. You're certainly not using Rainey right this season either. He's only averaging 3 yards per carry on offence, mainly because you refuse to get your fastest players into space. Williams had a number of 1,000 yard reception seasons before you signed him as a free agent. Williams was a game altering performer in Hamilton and Ottawa.

Maybe you need to adjust your offensive scheme to allow him to do what he has done best in the past?

Buono: We gotta get him executing better.

God of Football Present: Thompson got beat and that allowed Edmonton to come back and win this game. Just before your season opener, you switched Thompson to corner and he is not a natural corner and you switched Purifoy to safety for this game, even though he had played nickel back so well last year and did not even practice at the safety position throughout training camp. What were you thinking?

Buono: I wanted to start Fenner at nickel back.

God of Football Present: Purifoy had 5 sacks, three forced fumbles, four knockdowns, and a 47-yard fumble return touchdown for you in his previous season. You moved him around from safety to corner to defensive half back this season. Fenner has 1 sack and no forced fumbles so far this season. Why didn’t you use him as a defensive back again this year?

You moved Thompson from corner to safety, when he has been a defensive halfback in the past. You started the season using your best linebacker in training camp, Michael Awe, in the back-up middle linebacker role rather than have him competing at outside linebacker. You seem to have made a lot of personnel decisions that havent’ worked out so well.

Buono: No, I’ve made all the right personnel decisions. Its just been a problem of execution.

God of Football Present: Your Lions are 7th in CFL scoring. Only Toronto has given up more quarterback sacks. You’ve dropped to 5th in rushing this season after leading the CFL in that category last year. Of course you’ve had games in which Johnson has only rushed the football 5 times and 7 times in a game this season. Your defense is 8th in the CFL in sacks and 8th in forced fumbles. You are last in in the CFL in punt return average, with Chris Rainey. Yes, electric Chris Rainey, the CFL’s elite return man until you decided to coach the punt return unit this season. What is the problem with your team this season.

Buono: Well, guys, you know, you know w just haven’t executed, you know. Jennings has to get rid of the football quicker.

God of Football Present: Pasqaule, YOU KNOW, YOU KNOW, that if you keep repeating the same thing over and over again, it’s a form of brainwashing. But I am a Football God. So STOP SAYING YOU KNOW, YOU KNOW, WE DIDN’T EXECUTE or I will let you try to fly on your own.

Travis Lulay just this week said the difference between successful quarterbacking and struggling is often microseconds - that it is a confidence thing. Lulay also said he has been in the same place as Jonathan Jennings is right now, struggling with his own confidence. Lulay said that the reason he had his previous confidence issues was that he was trying to do too much and he thinks Jonathan is doing the same.

Why do you think your quarterbacks get into these mindsets of trying to do too much. Do you think the lack of protection and your scheme contribute to this? Do you think that part of the problem is the pressure you place on your quarterbacks to ‘make plays due to your predictable offensive scheme, along with poor pass protection. Its been a historic thing overall, during your 'reign”, in B.C,

Buono: You won’t let me say what I want to say so I’m not answering except to say that the problem is not the lack of protection or the scheme.

God of Football Present: Have you learned from the two visits you have received so far. Will you promise to change your ways.

Buono: I don’t know. How can I promise?
God of Football Present: If it's too hard a lesson for you to learn, then learn this lesson! [opens his robe, revealing two injured football players.

Buono: [shocked] Spirit, are these yours?
God of Football Present: No, Pasquale, they are yours. They were injured hitchhiking to practice in Surrey. They were hit by a moving vehicle. They were hitchhiking because they had to sell their cars. The reason they had to sell their cars was because you had forced them to take a salary cut.

Buono: What can be done to help them?
God of Football Present: I will use your own words Pasqaule. Are there no food banks?

Beware my words Pasquale. Beware ego and scapegoating. Save this season and save yourself!!

You will be visited by one more Football God before this night is through. And suddenly, the God of Football God vanished as if he had never been there.


The God of Football Future slowly, gravely, silently, approached Buono’s bedside. When it came near him, Buono jumped out of bed and bent down upon his knee; for in the very air through which this Football God moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery.

It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. It gave Buono a a vague uncertain horror, to know that behind the mask, there were eyes staring at him.

Buono: Am I standing in the presence of the God of Football Future? And you're going to show me the shadows of things that have not yet happened but will happen.

Football God of the Future, I fear you more than any spectre I have met tonight! But even in my fear, I must say that I am too old! I cannot change! I cannot! It's not that I'm rigid, it's just... Wouldn't it be better if I just went back to bed and fell asleep.

The God of Football Future said nothing. He grabbed Buono by the collar of his pajama top and tugged. Buono arose from his knee and within what seemed like only a few seconds, found himself looking at a newspaper recycling facility.

Buono: Why are we here?

The God of Football Future only pointed his finger at the headlines of the various recycled newspapers that were strewn about.

Buono glanced at the headlines of the various newspapers which read:

“Not a Legendary End for a Self-Proclaimed Legend”
“Not a Winner This Time as Buono Walks Away from the Sidelines”
“Inglorious Ending to Buono’s Career”
“Buono Should Have Stayed Retired as Head Coach of B.C. Lions
“No Basking This Time for Buono before Retiring”
“No Bang for Buono This Time – Leaves Coaching with a Whimper”

Wally Buono stared at the newspaper headlines with a look of horror. He threw himself down on top of the newspapers in an attempt to cover the headlines with his body. He wept and wept.

Buono: (grabbing the God of Football Future’s hand). God of Football Future - your nature intercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by altered changes to the way I have been coaching. I beg of you. Please give me another chance to sponge away the writing of these headlines.

God of Football Future: These headlines will not change, even if you decide to coach again in 2018, should you not make the playoffs this season.

That decision is only about your ego and not your players or B.C. Lions fans. If you wish these headlines to change, you must change!!

Buono then suddenly awoke to find the hand of the God of Football Future was his bedpost and that he is back in the present, with the game against Ottawa soon approaching.

Will the visits from the Gods of Football Past change Pasqaule “Wally” Buono?

Or will he consider the night that just passed only a series of bad dreams.

Buono has changed his practice schedule.

Changes are being promised.

Only time will tell.
"When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team". (George Raveling)

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Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:39 pm

Excellent, only 3 1/2 hours to see the change. Oh bye the way Blitz, do you also cut lawns?

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Sat Oct 07, 2017 2:25 pm

jwbavalon wrote:
Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:39 pm
Excellent, only 3 1/2 hours to see the change. Oh bye the way Blitz, do you also cut lawns?
Or install fences ? :wink:

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2017 MVP
Posts: 8386
Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2005 8:44 am

Sun Oct 08, 2017 1:36 pm

TheLionKing wrote:
Sat Oct 07, 2017 2:25 pm
jwbavalon wrote:
Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:39 pm
Excellent, only 3 1/2 hours to see the change. Oh bye the way Blitz, do you also cut lawns?
Or install fences ? :wink:
I always mow the lawn and I built and installed my own fence. In fact, just for you two, I also built my own cottage to name just a few.

But what worries me is that I probably wrote it faster than both of you were able to read it. :)

In terms of the contents of this thread (rather than my penchant for writing vs. mowing lawns or installing fences) do you think the Gods of Football got through to Buono, based on last night's game?
"When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team". (George Raveling)

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