Not even 48 hours ago, nobody knew who Jeff Tuel was. Then, when new Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone kinda, sorta named him the starter–probably, maybe–in Buffalo’s Week One contest with the New England Patriots (provided E.J. Manuel doesn’t recover from “minor” knee surgery in time), Tuel became a household name… but only in the sense that we all agree we STILL don’t know who he is.
However, since then, we’ve certainly been eager to learn. Unfortunately, he didn’t even have a Wikipedia page until recently and information has been scarce.
What we do know is that he played his collegiate football for the Washington State Cougars. There, while under the tutelage of Mike Leach, he split time with Connor Halliday and during previous stints he amassed a putrid–although less-so when you think about Washington State football as a whole–4-22 record as a starter.
Back in May, when the Bills signed Tuel as an undrafted free agent, there was a thread on a popular Buffalo Bills message board titled “Any news on Jeff Tuel?” One poster joked that thread should be titled “who the hell is jeff tuel and why no one should care.”
Now that Jeff Tuel has found relevance in the National Football League–well… at least as much relevance as Buffalo and general curiosity has to offer–I imagine there are a few folks in western New York who care a lot more than they wish they had to.
Buffalo has had a rough go of it lately, seemingly playing half their games in Canada and struggling to gain traction in the AFC East while the rival (if you want to call them that) Patriots dominate the division. They haven’t made the playoffs since 1999, and to this day they’re best known as a franchise for losing four straight Super Bowls in the early 90s.
Back then, they were the biggest attraction the city had to offer outside of nearby Niagara Falls, but now they struggle to fill more than 90% of Ralph Wilson stadium. This has led to speculation (emphasis on speculation) that the Bills could be on the short list of franchises destined to leave for markets the NFL desperately wants to tap into like Toronto, London and Los Angeles.
Nowadays, when I try to type “Buffalo Bills” into my search engine, it asks me six times if I’m sure I don’t mean Buffalo Wild Wings.
Needless to say, it’s been a rough time to be a Buffalo Bills fan, but not even the Coen brothers could spin a comedy as dark as Jeff Tuel sort of being named the starter of the Buffalo Bills. Especially considering how much hope the recent drafting of E.J. Manuel gave the fanbase this offseason–although, I guess you could say that about any fanbase who has drafted a quarterback in the first round in the past several decades–and the massive injection of money (Mario Williams) last offseason.
However, whereas the Bills were trendy picks to sneak up on folks in the AFC East in 2012, things look as bleak as ever in 2013.
They could very well be starting a quarterback whose crowning achievement as a football player to date was leading his one-win team to an upset win over an average Washington Huskies squad in the Apple Cup–a game in which he threw zero touchdowns and two interceptions.
That guy’s name is Jeff Tuel, and the only thing more remarkable than the idea he could be the Week One starter of an NFL franchise is the fact that I’ve lasted over 500 words without making a “Tuel Time” reference.