Dear HBO: Your Hard Knocks series is great. We love witnessing life in an NFL training camp. But for real drama and emotion, you’re going to want to produce my new show, Harder Knocks, which follows a lifelong Buffalo Bills fan (me) as the season approaches.
Narrator: It’s 5:18 on an August morning and Scott Feschuk is already hard at work, trying to cobble together a plausible depth chart for the 2016 Bills.
Scott: (to the camera) Obviously, the news isn’t great. Our first-round pick had shoulder surgery pretty much 12 seconds after we drafted him. Our second-round pick blew out his knee. I think the guy we took in the third round fell down a well.
Scott moves magnetic names around a giant whiteboard he’s installed next to his bed. He turns to his dog.
Scott: How does this sound to you: E.J. Manuel, linebacker?
Narrator: Nerves are frayed in the Feschuk household. Everyone is on edge. NFL season previews have begun to appear online, which means repeated references to That Which Shall Not Be Mentioned—the fact that the Bills haven’t made the playoffs since 1999.
Scott: Does it hurt my heart when people talk about it? Yes. Do I let it show? Only if you count the sobbing.
He stares into the distance for 11 minutes.
Scott: Funny story: Our oldest boy, James, was actually born in 1999, so he’s a living, physical representation of the Streak. He was six lb. at birth. He’s six-foot-one now. Every time I look at him, I think about those long years of futility, false hope, Drew Bledsoe, shattered dreams…
James walks into the kitchen. Scott attacks him with a spatula.
INT. An otherwise empty church
Scott: I mean, the Monseigneur claims God doesn’t intervene in sporting events—but that’s exactly what a Jets fan would say, right? [Shouting from a pew] I SAW YOU AT EAST SIDE MARIO’S IN THE FITZPATRICK JERSEY, FATHER! Anyway, I spend a lot of time here just to keep things on the up and up.
Altar boy: Uh, we’re closing now. You have to leave.
Narrator: Churches don’t actually “close.”
Scott tries to slip the altar boy 20 bucks.
Scott: Tell Him He doesn’t have to tear Gronk’s ACL—just sprain it a little bit.
INT. Living room
Scott: I’m excited about us hiring Rex Ryan’s twin brother, Rob, to run the defence. It’s awesome. I know there are some haters, but you just have to look at how his “D” did last season in New Orleans and… [pulls up stats].
Narrator: We kept filming, but it was just 40 minutes of shrieking and punching the air.
INT. Fetal position
Scott shakes uncontrollably as he watches video of Rex Ryan claiming the Bills “won the off-season” and raving about how well the team’s summertime weightlifting has gone.
Scott: Our defence last year was soooo bad. We’ve done zero to improve it. Our big signing on offence was Reggie Bush, which means we’re a lock to win the 2011 AFC East.
James enters the room, sees his dad and immediately turns around.
Scott: But maybe, despite everything, we can put something together. Maybe it’s good that expectations are low. I’m optimistic!
INT. Breakfast table
Scott looks at his iPhone, which shows the headline: “Marcell Dareus, Bills’ best defender, suspended four games for substance abuse.”
He slowly lowers his face into his bowl of Frosted Flakes and awaits the sweet relief of a milky death.