(With thanks/apologies to the great band !!!.)
It's Tuesday afternoon at 4 o'clock. In 117 hours, the boys will take the field against the Delicate Genius and his horsies. Dirty tricks on the o-line and a pastiche of veterans on the defensive side are what we're all expecting - those, and Travis Henry. A lot of him. With a young hotshot in Jay Cutler to try and make things difficult through the air.
What can we do to deal with this?
Noise. And lots of it.
A couple of minor points first. I was flabbergasted when the Delicate Genius felt that a 7-2 record was insufficient last year, and torpedoed the donkeys' season with the baffling decision to give the rookie the starting role in place of the serviceable (but successful) Plummer. I guess making the playoffs is secondary in Shanahan's personal achievement list to grooming another attempted Elway-replacement. Whatever.
Second, for all the fearsome qualities that have been ascribed to Jim Bates' defense, their first-team defense in this preseason (and, to be fair, the Cutler-era of last season) has made ours' look like the '85 Bears. They've looked BAD. And we've been running a far more vanilla set (though, honestly, they've veered more towards the vanilla themselves).
But all that doesn't matter as much as this - our 12th man needs to be LOUD. Loud loud loud. Our opening month crowds the last couple of years have been anemic - practically Patriots-like in their short term memory and bandwagon attitudes. It's been embarassing, frankly.
We had, for the majority of the last half-century, one of (if not THE most) intimidating homefield presences in the league. (I think I'll have to write a future entry on the history of how unpleasant it's been for visitors to take the field against the Bills.) Our winds, our snows and our rains are part of what makes the Ralph so cold. The rest is the rabid psychotic need to scare the bejeebus out of those sobs who walk into our turf with smiles on their faces.
Still my favorite moment of the last few years was the snow bowl of Dec. 2002, Ricky Williams' last significant game. Following the glorious victory, the snow-logged busses waiting to get the Dolphins out took an hour and a half to get going. By the time they did, a darkness had followed the flurries, and a thousand barrel fires took on demonic shapes in the low-visibility climes. Next to the road out, the Dolphins bus slowly moved along as maniacal Bills fans (including yours truly) bellowed and shouted, throwing snowballs, iceballs, pieces of wood (some still glowing red), hamburgers, beer and whatever else was on hand at the bus, screaming and acting (in general) like apes. It was beautiful. I still swear I saw Jay Fiedler's face towards the back looking out with an expression of baffled dismay. "What's wrong with these people?" is what I believe that look translated to.
That's what we need.
Here are the rules.
RULE 1: When the offense is on the field (especially from the commencement of the huddle until after the snap), quiet. QUIET!
RULE 2: At any point when the opposing team is attempting to coordinate any activity whatsoever (when the rule does not conflict with Rule 1), bellow.
The Buffalo Bellow is not a chant (though those are fine for those with weaker constitutions). It's not a song (though that's how we celebrate). It starts at the base of the lungs, and erupts. Simply make the loudest noise you can. It should sound like a sustained fog horn. No need to say anything (leave that for them fancy-pants types with their lattes). Simply produce as high a decibel level as you can, and encourage (through shame, threats, or pride) all those in your section to do the same.
LOUD. LOUD. LOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUUDDDDDDD.
(As to those masochists wearing Broncos jerseys, you know what to do with them. Just make sure security isn't watching.)