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November 01, 2017

The Bills (sort of) steal 'process' slogan from Sixers

Among a flurry of trades at the NFL trade deadline Tuesday, which included the Eagles landing a player they hope will be an effective running back in Jay Ajayi, was a deal that sent Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills, a team that holds a surprising 5-2 record.

The team gloated about acquiring the talented wideout on social media, particularly on Twitter, where I couldn't help but see a vaguely familiar slogan.

"Respect the process?" Gee, that sounds a whole lot like "Trust the Process," the rallying cry that's become a cult-like calling card for Sixers fans who believed in the team's strategy of tanking to acquire top-tier talent via the draft.

So, what gives? It seems the Bills began utilizing "respect the process" at the onset of the season, when head coach Sean McDermott (a Philly-area native who served more than 10 years on the Eagles' coaching staff, mind you) began using "process" as a not-so-original way to avoid saying "rebuilding." Per an August ESPN feature:

To McDermott, a laser-focused ex-high school wrestling champion, "the process" seems to apply to every context. There was the process in the offseason of whether to keep or release Tyrod Taylor, the pre-draft process, the minicamp process, the training camp process, the process of signing Anquan Boldin, the process of Boldin retiring, the process of players recovering from injuries, even "the process of what's going on in this country" after this month's protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

But the overriding theme behind McDermott's use of the word – he even winked at reporters once after saying it – is that there will be a process to the Bills' clawing their way out of mediocrity and back to a level of NFL respectability. The Bills might never plummet to the depths reached by the 76ers, whose 10-72 finish during the 2015-16 season helped to secure the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, but McDermott and first-year general manager Brandon Beane are clearly playing the long game as they stockpile 2017 draft assets.

Ever since, the team's marketing department and its fans seem to have bought in.

In all fairness, referring to the "marathon, not a sprint" mentality toward building a sports team as a "process" might not even have originated in Philly; heck, even the Sixers' No. 1 draft pick has been saying it before it became a thing in Philly.

Besides, the team can't even take credit for coining the phrase. It was the Rights to Ricky Sanchez podcast that first popularized it among Sixers fans, and only once Joel Embiid co-opted "Trust the Process" as his nickname did the Sixers really buy in.

All that being said, the reality is "process" gained a life of its own as a Sixers thing, and the Bills' version seems like a cheap knock-off. This does, however, set the perfect stage for a Bills/Eagles Super Bowl, in which the Birds knock off Buffalo and Embiid hands Carson Wentz his MVP trophy to chants of "Trust the Process."