This is my ode to my Bills brethren. My standing ovation to the most loyal and long-suffering fans in the National Football League. The true purpose of this piece was to take a deeper look into why we 'do what we do'? Not just on Sunday mornings at The Ralph, but on the cold winter nights in December when we are once again not relevant. When the sport we love prepares to display its finest product, the playoffs. Why we 'do what we do' after hearing all the snickering and teasing from everyone about the Bumbling Bills year round? I can hear all the corny jokes now in my head like nails on a chalk board. This is my round of applause to you loyal Bills fans as we embark on another season of hope in 2014, please feel free to comment however you please.
As I hung up the phone on 1 Bills Drive a few weeks ago I felt an excitement. The same type of butterflies in your stomach you might have after your first kiss with the girl you really like. And to me, that's what the Bills are to me. Pure euphoria like that first kiss. They make me feel a certain type of way and I blame the 1990's run for that solely ('85 baby - 5,6,7 & 8 during The 4 Straight run). I had just completed a standard transaction with a Bills ticket rep putting down a deposit on my 2014 Season Tickets. At face value it would seem like no big deal. Many Buffalonians made deposits on their ST's probably that very same day after news broke of the 'temporary' (please God end this forsaken series) suspension of the Toronto Series giving Bills fans their much deserved 8th home game back. But as the rep verified my home address it hit me once again just how much I'm invested in the Buffalo Bills. Just how much I love the team despite no playoffs since that horrible day in Tennessee and some really really embarrassing Sundays along the way to now. From my doorstep to Abbott Road at The Ralph is 660 miles which takes roughly 10hrs driving with kids. I live in Charlotte, NC and for the third time since I moved there in 2006 I hung up the phone with a Bills rep after putting down a deposit on hope. As all Bills fans believe, next year is 'our year'! I never waver in that faithful optimism and I started to wonder why? I wondered why do I care so much? I'm Buffalo born & bred. Went to schools in the suburbs of Amherst & Williamsville and spent my fair share of time in the city as I grew older. I married a Buffalo-girl from Lancaster and drive our two children 660 miles north thru NC-VA-WV-PA-NY to come home for what? I'm clearly what you'd call a 'fanatic' but what separates Buffalo Bills fans from all others (Bills Nation is THE OFFICIAL 12th MAN since the 90's, sorry Seattle!) is their loyalty through suffering. No other fan base would support a franchise with such fervor and enthusiasm while enduring a 15yr playoff drought. NOT ONE! We are all fanatics if you will. It's what makes us unique. It's what makes us 'us'. And I love every second of it!
When I wake up on gameday mornings as a grown man it mirrors what I used to act like as a young kid on The First Day Of School Eve! The entire outfit has been laid out down to every detail! The anticipation keeps you up at night, especially before the home opener because optimism is never greater than on that great Sunday each year. It's perfect. The tailgating. Tossing the football around. Family, friends, food & spirits make the entire atmosphere like no other on earth in my opinion. I figured out why I care so much I think the other day. What I realized as the call ended was that I want to believe. I want to buy-in. I want a winner and I always feel we are one year away. I struggle to feel differently and again, the '90s teams made me that way. I've seen success from the Bills growing up as a kid in Buffalo. I remember when the entire league knew and respected who we were and what type of team we fielded. It's been a long road and 15yrs is a long time to wait for anything yet we remain constant as a fan base. This is my standing ovation Bills Nation & fellow Rumblers are we embark on hope once again for the 2014 season! Bravo to you all, we are truly what makes Buffalo a special place to live, raise our families and of course root for our beloved Bills. I leave you with my dream. I'm modest and don't want much and hell, I'm a Bills fan so I can't be too picky anyhow.
My dream is just to be relevant come playoff time. Just to matter again. I want to buy a flight or drive to any AFC city and prepare to meet my Bills there for Wild Card weekend in January. Doesn't matter where, I'll be there because I can't shake them. I can't stop myself from caring about the Bills and I don't much want to either to be honest (damn you '90s run! You have my soul!). Isn't that kind of why we are all Rumblers in the first place? Why forums like this exist to begin with? For people who care really hard? Why does BG care so much? Why does MW? Why do you? You have the floor Rumblers.
**Thank you Bills Nation & fellow Rumblers, this was my standing ovation to our loyalty throughout the pain. One day it will end and what a glorious day that will be for Bills fans! The Buffalo Bills are truly OUR team. More so than any other city can say in the NFL! My prayers are with Jim Kelly & his family as I know yours are as well.**