Bills QB Hamdan: 'This isn't fantasy football'

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- My locker-room conversation with Buffalo Bills third quarterback Gibran Hamdan started out as a quick blog item and turned into something much more.

I wanted to ask Hamdan about Cam Cameron, his head coach at Indiana University who brought Hamdan to Miami Dolphins camp last year. Cameron was fired after the season and became the Baltimore Ravens' offensive coordinator.

I asked Hamdan if he could detect anything foul about what would turn into a 1-15 Dolphins campaign. We talked about the leadership in place with such respected captains as quarterback Trent Green, linebacker Zach Thomas and defensive end Jason Taylor.

What I discovered was Hamdan is a raconteur.

Hamdan, an NFL Europa MVP who also has played for the Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks, delivered one of the more passionate and insightful interviews I've recently been a part of.

So here's our talk when the subject turned from last year's Dolphins to this year's Bills.

What happened in Miami last year was surprising because of the leadership of guys like Zach Thomas, Jason Taylor and Trent Green ...

GH: Overall team chemistry is very important, and you can have the leadership at the top, but you've also got to think who's the 52nd and 53rd guy on your roster, the 49th. What do they bring to the table? I think that's something we do well here in Buffalo.

Everybody has a role. Everybody looks at themselves in the mirror each week and says 'This is how I can help the team win this week.' If you get a team that can believe in that, and you have a head coach that exudes the importance of that, I think you're better off.

Obviously, there are certain guys making the plays on Sunday, and we have some very talented ones here. But I would say everybody in the locker room feels they've done something to help the team win, no matter how minimal or maximal it is on Sunday.

Related to that all-for-one mentality, the Bills seem to be a team with no elite talent, but no weaknesses. Would you agree with that?

GH: Now, see, I wouldn't say that. I wouldn't say that. There is elite talent here. I think where we are located geographically, the coverage that we get, leads people to believe a certain thing about our team. I've been on a lot of teams. There are elite players here. Maybe not big names. Maybe not guys that the average fan, looking at a fantasy-football sheet, would say 'Oh, yeah.' But that's not how you build a team.

I think if you look at the successful teams over the years, namely the ones in our division, New England, or a San Diego or an Indianapolis, you don't necessarily go down the roster and say 'first-round pick, first-round pick, first-round pick, eight-year Pro Bowler, six-year Pro Bowler' ... You look at how teams are built, and the teams that are having success are the teams that are doing a good job of bringing players in that fit a system, that can jell into a cohesive unit and know their roles.

So you can say all you want about not being an elite player, but I'll take a guy who plays his role excellent on each and every play than a guy who maybe is an elite player but isn't playing at a high level because he's maybe upset about his role on the team or where he's situated.

I think I misspoke when I said 'no elite talent,' but thanks for setting me straight. What I meant is that the Bills aren't loaded up in any one area of dominance that bails out another area on a weekly basis. There's total balance.

GH: Our game [Sunday] was a perfect example of that. Defense keeps us in the game the whole way through. Then the offense comes around and makes a couple plays. That's the way you've got to win in this league nowadays. It really is. You can't just one-side your way through a season.

Sure, there are anomalies. Sometimes an offense can be just unstoppable. But the NFL isn't fantasy football as much as people like to look at it that way. We have that conversation every week. You can't look at us like fantasy football. It's all about 'Who's going to perform up to their abilities so we can win?'

If you have a lot of guys that know their role on the team, know how to perform that role and do it consistently every week, it doesn't matter what kind of talent you bring in here because that team will win. That's what we've built here as a team.