Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “the burden of physical or mental distress.” An alternative meaning is “the stress or urgency of matters needing attention.” I think Trent Edwards could relate to both of these meanings. There is certainly some mental pressure on Edwards this season, and there is certainly stress related to an “urgency of matters.” Edwards does not seem phased.
He recently said it comes with the position, and a QB starts feeling it even at the High School level. Pressure has broken many athletes at this position while others have built their reputation in times of pressure, with their adrenaline reaching a level that allowed them to reach peak performance. We’ll return to this topic and Edwards, but it’s first important to explore a different word.
Passion. Webster’s defines the word as “intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction.” Passion is a word that Bills fans can relate to, as one could argue that Bills fans have more passion for their team than any other. Unlike some NFL games Bills games are not primarily a corporate event. While the stadium has luxury boxes like any other this is not an environment created by Corporate America. This is an environment driven by the passion of the common blue-collar fan rooting for a team that has literally become the identity of a region.
Buffalo has seen tough times and at times has been ridiculed by national media, but nobody questions the love this city has for their team. Anyone who saw Monday Night Football return to Buffalo this past season witnessed this passion. Tony Romo felt it as he experienced the “pressure” of unbelievable crowd noise for an entire game. I was thrilled to be a member of that crowd. Anyone who saw Jim Kelly inducted into The Hall of Fame with a crowd filled with Bills jerseys witnessed this passion. There was a time that Kelly wanted nothing to do with Buffalo, but once he witnessed the passion of these fans he decided to never leave.
Which brings us back to Edwards. The pressure he felt in High School and later at Stanford is nothing compared to the pressure he’ll endure as the starter from the first game of 2008. The environment in Buffalo is very different from Stanford. Football is not a diversion it’s an obsession. His performance was not analyzed every Monday morning in every paper and on every sports talk show in the region.
It will be now. It doesn’t help that there is a QB on the bench that deep down believes the position should still be his. How Edwards responds to this pressure will determine not only the Bills success in 2008, but also quite possibly his future success as an NFL QB. He could become the next Rob Johnson or the next Jim Kelly, loved in Buffalo forever. He could even help to keep the team in Buffalo. Let’s hope that Edwards can handle the “burden of mental distress,” because the burden will certainly be there this fall.