Matthews: So Far, Cheers To The Bills - Seriously!


It isn’t always easy to get excited about the Buffalo Bills, if you’re a fan or a media person covering the team. A 17-year playoff drought is tough to swallow. The Bills have managed to defy parity like no the NFL team over that time.

But I thought they did a good job in Thursday night’s first round of the 2017 NFL college draft. So0 far, so good. Grade: A-.

The Bills need help at several critical positions, including cornerback, safety, wide receiver and maybe quarterback.

The more picks in the draft the better. There are more chances get lucky. The mistakes don’t hurt as much.

The Bills traded down from the No. 10 overall pick (to Kansas City for the No. 27 overall pick and a third-round pick (No. 91 overall in this year’s draft, plus a first-rounder in the 2018 draft.

The Bills used the 27th pick on Tre’Davious White LSU), rated the third- or fourth-best cornerback in the draft by most of the “experts.” He was the fifth cornerback chosen Thursday night, behind Marshon Lattimore, Marlon Humphrey, Adoree’ Jackson and Garen Conley. The Bills hope he’ll ne a useful player – if not a starter -- immediately.

How helpful will the No. 91 pick be? The No. 91 pick in past drafts included semi-familiar names QB Jacoby Brissett, OT Chaz Green, WR John Brown, OT Jamar Holmes, LB Akeem Dent, LB NaVorro Bowman, TE Jermichael Finley, DE Frostee Rucker, DE Anthony Hargrove, TE Visanthe Shiancoe, RB Grian Westbrook, QB Brian Griese, LB Mike Vrabel, OG Brenden Stai, RB Bam Morris, OT Jeff Christy, B Vince Ferragamo and safety Dick Jauron.

The last pick No. 91 selected by Buffalo was split end Bobby Crockett (Arkansas), who caught 41 passes for 659 yards and 3 TDs in 28 games with the Bills from 1966 through 1969.

The 2018 first-round pick acquired Thursday night from Kansas City figures to be in the 24-to-28 range. The Chiefs figure to be a playoff team again this season.

So the Bills traded this year’s No. 10 overall for Tre’Davious White and the No. 91 pick this year and the probable No. 24-to-28 overall pick next year. For a team that needs lots of help, I get it.

Considering that the Bills saw no player they absolutely had to pick No. 10 Thursday night, I’m OK with that swap. What do you think?

The remaining picks for the Bills Friday and Saturday: Nos. 44, 75, 91, 156. 193, 171 and 195.


Remember when heavyweights ruled boxing in the good old USA? Particularly American heavyweights.

One reason (of many) why boxing no longer is a super-popular sport has been the lack of charismatic heavyweights.

A genuinely compelling heavyweight championship fight – even without an American fighter in the ring -- will be held Saturday night a sold-out, 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium in London: Wladimir Klitschko vs. Antony Joshua.

Klitschko is a long-time heavyweight champion. His record is 64-4, with 54 knockouts. “Dr. Steelhammer” is 41 years old and hasn’t fought since his 11-year unbeaten streak ended with a loss via unanimous decision to Tyson Fury Nov. 28, 2015. The Ukrainian has lost some power (fiver of his last 10 fights were decisions) but still is dangerous.

Joshua, 27, is from the United Kingdom and will be the home-crowd favorite. He’s in his boxing prime and obviously ready for by far his toughest challenge yet. His record is 18-0 – all by knockouts in a total of 44 rounds.

The fight will be for the WBA, IBF and IBO world heavyweight titles and will be available live on Showtime.

The latest odds from Bovada: Joshua -260 (bet $260 to win $100) and Klitschko +200 (bet $100 to win $200). Klitschko isn’t used to being the underdog. He’s never been 41 years old before, either.


The first month of the baseball season ends Sunday and two of my top three candidates for the top Major League Baseball Player in April are huge surprises.

Bryce Harper (Washington) –  .400 batting average (33-for-79); 28 runs; 8 doubles; 8 HRs; 25 RBI; .535 on-base percentage + .823 slugging percentage = 1.358 OPS. He’s healthy and very much not a surprise.

Eric Thames (Milwaukee) – .371 batting average (27-for-73); 27 runs; 6 doubles; 11 HRs; 19 RBI; .489 on-base percentage + 904 slugging percentage = 1.393 OPS. He played the past three seasons in Korea.

Ervin Santana (Minnesota) – 5 starts; 4-0 record; 0.77 earned-run average; 35 innings; 13 hits and 10 walks allowed; 26 strikeouts; 0.66 WHIP (walks + hits per inning); opponents have a .116 batting average. He signed a four-year, $54 million contract with the Twins Dec. 12, 2014. On April 3, 2015, he was suspended 80 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. He was 7-5 with a 4.00 ERA in 2015 and 7-11 with a 3.38 ERA in 2016.


Russell Westbrook wasn’t at his best in Oklahoma City’s 4-1 loss to the Houston Rockets in the first round of the NBA playoffs, but it won’t cost him any NBA Most Valuable Player votes.

Westbrook had a .388 field-goal percentage (59-for-152) and a .265 3-point field-goal percentage (13-for-49) in the five-game playoff loss. The rest of his team had a .470 field-goal percentage (134-for-285) and was .337 from 3-point range (29-for-86).

The Rockets clearly are a better team than the Thunder and give Westbrook credit for trying to pick up the slack in the playoff series. But did he try to do too much? He had 27 percent of Oklahoma City’s field-goal attempts in the regular season and 35 percent in the playoffs.

The league MVP won’t be announced until June 26, when for the first time most of the league awards – including MVP --  will be announced in New York on a live special hosted by Drake on TNT.

The voting was done before the postseason started, so it doesn’t matter that Houston’s James Harden – his main competition for MVP – outplayed Westbrook overall in the playoff series and was on the winning team.


Now that we know Oak Hill will host the Senior PGA Championship in late May 2019, would it be icing on the cake for Rochester product Jeff Sluman to be on the leaderboard all week?

Of course Jeff to be in it to win it. He disappointed many of his fans when he skipped the 2013 PGA Championship in his hometown due to a scheduling conflict. The highlight of his career was winning the 1988 PGA Championship.

Sluman , who’ll turn 60 on September 11, still is a very good PGA Champions Tour player. He won a season-most $104,166.67 last week by tying for second, with partner Fred Funk, at the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge.

Sluman ranks 12th on this year’s Champions Tour money list $290,058) and 22nd in scoring average (69.94).

In seven events this year, Sluman finished t23rd, t23rd, t3rd, t23rd, t61t, t12th and t2nd.

Sluman is closing in on $30 million in official PGA golf earnings.

PGA Tour -- $18,165,266 (77th all-time)

PGA Champions Tour -- $10,824,925 (19th all-time)

Total -- $28,970,191. I believe the Florida State finance major made a good career choice.


The trade of Marshawn Lynch from Seattle to Oakland in another reason to look forward to the Raiders game at the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Oct. 29.

The changes at ESPN might finally lead to the 18-year on-air partnership of Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic. They began an ESPN Radio and later were added to the ESPN2 morning menu. There have a chemistry that seems genuine and it probably is. Greenberg reportedly is one of the network’s rising stars and soon will have his own show. He’s OK but I thought Golic was better.

Jayson Stark was among those terminated Wednesday by ESPN. He is my favorite baseball writer. The 65-year-old Syracuse University graduate worked at ESPN for 17 years and called it “a dream job.”  He was fun to read and really loves the sport. I hope ESPN’s loss will be the MLB Network’s gain.

WWE will return to Rochester for a nationally-televised Smackdown show Tuesday, June. The RAW show on Monday night, June 5, will be in Scranton/Wlkes-Barre. Hosting Smackdown isn’t exactly a putdown. Atlanta (May 30) and New Orleans (June 13) will the Smackdown sites sandwiched around Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial.


Friday, April 28 – Blake Bortles (25)...David Freese (34)..Chris Kaman (35)....Josh Howard (37)..Nicklas Lidstrom (47)...Pete Stoyanovich (50)...Jim Poole (51)...Barry Larkin (53)...Hal Sutton (59)...Ron Zook (63)...former Red Wing IL Rookie of the Year Jackie Brandt (83). Jessica Alba (36), Penelope Cruz (43), Jay Leno (67) and Ann Margret (76) are invited to the birthday party.

Saturday, April 29 – R ookie Davis (24)...Jonathan Toews (29)...David Lee (34)...Jay Cutler (34)...Andre Agassi (47)...Curtis Joseph (50)...Reggie Miller (52)...Dave Fenyves (57)’s Larry Miller (70)...Jim Hart NFL (73)...Luis Aparicio (83). Uma Thurman (47), Michelle Pfeiffer (59), Daniel Day Lewis (60), Jerry Seinfeld (63 and Willie Nelson (84) are invited to the birthday party.

Sunday, April 30 – Ryan O’Rourke (29)...Tim Kennedy (31)...Brandon Bass (32)...Luis Scola (37)...Dave Meggett (51)...Basketball Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas (56)...Marty Byrnes (61)..Phil Garner (68).


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