1999 was a year made famous in the early eighties by the artist formerly known as Prince…. or is he Prince now a days? Anyway, for Buffalo Bills fans, the year 1999 has a much bigger significance than a top 40 hit. It was the last time the Bills were in the playoffs. Not only is it the last time they were in the playoffs, but it ended in a last second loss to the Tennessee Titans. It was such a shocker of a loss; it was named the Music City Miracle. (Side note….it was a forward pass).
Let’s be honest, to be a Bills fan, you have to have thick skin and a short memory. Hell, 4 straight Super Bowl losses, the above mentioned Miracle, Johnson vs. Flutie, moving to Canada, OJ(off the field), then there’s the old famous and ever funny BILLS acronym, Boy I Love Losing Super Bowls (never knew where the second B came in to play, but ok). Then there are a few reasons some people remain Bills fans: 4 straight Super Bowls, will it ever be done again? No. Kelly, Reed, Thomas, Smith, Talley, Levy etc.(the good ole’ days), Reich and the Greatest Comeback, Beebe vs. Lett, Norwood(poor bastard), Ralph Wilson, OJ(on the field), passion, belief, love, trust, and believing God will HAVE to cut them a break one day.
I’m not from Buffalo nor do I live there, but I became a fan of the Bills when I was a kid. In Florida, during the eighties you mostly saw Dolphins games, and I never liked the Dolphins. Why? I can’t say, but I didn’t. I had heard of Jim Kelly when my uncle attended the U and also while being a fan of the Jacksonville Bulls; I was told Kelly was the best QB in that league. So when I was forced to watch the Dolphins, I would see Kelly was now in the NFL playing against the team I didn’t like. So I was like, "Hey, let’s go with this guy." And a religious like following began.
Now I’ve been to games in Jacksonville, Miami, and Orlando (pre-season) to watch the Bills play, but there is no experience like seeing a game in Buffalo. I had the opportunity to go to Rich Stadium and witness Thurman Thomas run over Bryan Cox, of the hated Dolphins, and a week later I got to witness first-hand the amazing Marshall Faulk as a rookie with the Indianapolis Colts. The Bills went 1-1 while I was visiting but I took away life lasting memories of the games and the game-day experience.
While I attended two games, I stayed in a town named Lockport. Now one thing I noticed was this seemed to be a blue collar town. Back then I was 21 and consumed a lot of alcohol on my trip, so I could be way off base, but that’s the impression I got. The people I spent time with loved 4 things: Buffalo wings, Bowling, Beer and the Bills. And that seems to be the type of team these fans expect, dedicated and hard working.
In Major League Baseball there is the famous Red Sox Nation, but in the NFL there's a Bills Nation. With Bills Backers fan club locations throughout the United States, it seems to be, once a Bills fan... always a Bills fan.
Over the years I’ve enjoyed the good times along with the bad. Why the bad? Because when the Bills finally make that one move that gets them back to the big dance and they win the Super Bowl, it will make it that much sweeter. It may be years from now, but I’m invested as are so many other lifers. For the outsiders, we have Hall Of Famers Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas at home games, a lot. If you follow Darryl Talley on Twitter, he tweets while watching the Bills games as does Cornelius "Biscuit" Bennett.
There have been more head coaches, offensive coordinators, defensive coordinators, GM’s, quarterbacks, and everything else within this organization, but one thing has stood true; the fans. The fans of the Bills deserve a winner. They deserve a Championship more than any other NFL team. Period. More than the Lions, the Browns, the Bungles, and any other team that is lacking the ultimate hardware.
Why do the Bills deserve it more? The Bills are the one thing that is relevant in the city. People can say there’s the Sabres, but let’s be realistic, hockey is not part of the most popular game in the United States. The Bills are. There’s no big automobile corporation, there’s no MLB team, there’s nothing there to fall back on. Nothing to have your hopes and dreams wrapped around. But the Bills give this community just that, hope. If there were no Bills, it would be like if there was no Hardy with Laurel, no John with Paul, no Simon with Garfunkel. The Bills are synomous with Buffalo as the wings are. It’s more than a game, it’s a lifestyle.
There will always be opinions about the Bills and what they have accomplished and where they have fallen short over the last decade, but one things for sure, their fans are behind them all the way. Win or lose. The Bills have one of THE best fan-bases in all of sports. They are the fans similar to the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox. These are fans of one of the storied franchises in sports and they will hold on to the absolute last breath in their being to try and make it to see the Bills win a Championship.