Before I completely diss Chris Kelsay (If you are regular readers you shouldn't be shocked that I'm going there), I'll give all you Kelsay fans some nice bouquets before I pull a gun out of it and shoot your prism of mediocrity fandom.
My favorite Kelsay story was one repeated by Jerry Sullivan about how he'd found Kelsay at a bar by Ralph Wilson Stadium soon after the Bills beat the Patriots in 2011. Without question that was the biggest win by the franchise over the last 10 years. Sully, and I'm paraphrasing it a bit, said that Kelsay was so happy and relieved that they finally beat the Pats.
It was ironic because I think all of us felt the same way. He may have wanted that win more than anyone else on the team. I don't think any player over the last 13 years of sadness for the Bills lived through the battles and the scars like Kelsay did. He cared.
You could tell it in his voice. You could tell when he spoke with his "What the fuck is happening here?!" tone after every tough loss. He'd always speak in low mumbling voice, yet it always seemed like he'd sigh before he spoke. His sighs of disappointment spoke more loudly than his actual voice did. That's all you needed to hear to know where he was coming from.
Sadly, it was probably the only connection I'll ever have with Kelsay. It is the losing connection. And that's probably why I've never been a fan of his. He just represented so many bad teams that I can't find the good in him. Misery in my case doesn't exactly love company here.
I can't fake it with him. I just never could embrace the guy because he was such an average overpaid player. He made almost 50-million dollars for pretty much providing more credence to "White guys have high motors" rhetoric and "He was a quotable guy."
I can't. I just can't look for the miniscule nice things about why Kelsay was a good player. Quotes, leadership, TDs against Dallas. Sure, we can write a ballad about how Kelsay was a good player who just couldn't catch a break because of the ineptness of the franchise, but I did that with Lee Evans and Terrence McGee. At least those guys made pro bowls.
Kelsay was an overpaid player who never got as much crap for his subpar play. 32.5 sacks for what amounted into almost 45-million in salary? Eh! Aaron Schobel, who made almost as much yearly as Kelsay (7-million to 6-million), got way more crap for his play than Kelsay.
I get it.
Kelsay is a classy guy and was a "Goto guy" in the locker room who reporters loved. That's probably why he never got crap from the media all that much because you could have put his quotes on TBN Wall of Fame. Luckily, I don't need to worry about filling up my quote book because I don't have one.
There is nothing special to me about a player placing himself as being accountable and then somewhat bashes his team when all parties suck. It goes into the rhetoric of "Who the hell are you to call us out? You are Chris Kelsay and you kind of suck!?" Maybe that's why I don't like him all that much. Just people found too many reasons to like him and not acknowledge that he wasn't worth the coin.
Now, the Kelsay fan club will talk all about how he's a leader. To me, a great leader is defined by the people he leads. Maybe if he played on New England I could get behind it, but if you don't win, what kind of leader are you? You are just a guy telling people how to do their job and they end up not doing their job. Leadership works when you have talent around you, it doesn't when the guys stink.
Hence the reason why leadership is overrated in my opinion. It is nothing more than cliche talk that we feed into because it makes us feel all sentimental and elated when someone is channeling our anger towards the team. We are just a sports society that has watched "The Freedom" speech from Braveheart one too many times.
The guy just wasn't good and in a town where we give statues to players who never won anything or pour a 40 on the street for a coach who won five playoff series since "No Goal", it gets a little tiring to glorify a player who'd just be another name in another market. We need to understand the difference between being good and longevity when it comes to accolades.
Am I being too hard on him? Yes. However, when I think of his name, it just triggers bad football teams and years of angst in my mind. No good plays. No fun stories. Playing OLB. He's just a guy who took losing hard.
I'm sorry, Chris. You may not suck as badly as I am making it out to be, but the team was so bad that I just can't get past it. Enjoy your retirement. I'm sure you'll enjoy it more than the losing you had to endure.