Author's Note: This essay is written to get in the hands of the Buffalo Bills front office. It calls for realistic and actionable change to enhance fans' experience at the Ralph. As a Buffalo born, lifelong fan I am not the only one ready to work to make this a better team. The essay will be sent to sportswriters, blogs, radio stations, and hopefully, a few players on the Bills roster. I encourage you to re-post, re-publish the essay in full. Let's take action.
How the Bills Can Survive and Win in Buffalo
A few days after he missed a 47-yard field goal to win Super Bowl XXV, Scott Norwood traveled with his team to the steps of City Hall in downtown Buffalo. Thirty-thousand fans began chanting, "We want Scott! We want Scott!" As our kicker reluctantly stepped up to the microphone, the chant morphed into "We love Scott! We love Scott!" With tears in his eyes, a man who nearly brought Buffalo its only major championship said to the crowd, "I know I’ve never felt more loved than right now."
Football means more in Buffalo.
Momentum is in fans’ favor. The Toronto Series is on hold. Stadium renovations are in the works. EJ Manuel is taking the lead and organizing practices. But the real test is on the field. In the Ralph. But I won’t sit back and hope—I want to take action. We cannot buy this team, but we can keep it in Buffalo.
Roger Goodell is on Buffalo’s side as long as the Bills have a decent stadium. And the stadium will be always be decent as long as fans fill it—and have a voice.
To the front office, I propose the creation of the Bills Legion. The members of the Legion are vetted fans, supported and sanctioned by the front office. Their mission: to create the most engaging, diverse and celebratory in-game stadium experience in the NFL. The rabid enthusiasm of Bills fans should not end in the parking lot; it should be redirected to instill a positive sense of fan community. Because fans can create wins.
Picture the Bills Legion leading defined sections of the Ralph, coordinating full stadium chants, cheers, and songs, while encouraging good-will among fans. Imagine a stadium section looking to their Legion volunteer to begin a "Freddie" or "CJ" chant after a first down, suddenly stopping together in silence to let the offense work. Feature 30-second video clips of heartfelt, humorous fan stories of Bills love and lore. Hear an entire stadium sing for an opposing offense’s meltdown like a European soccer match. Create a game environment where parents want to take their young kids. Envision a stadium where women want to attend games. Enlist the support of season-ticket holders for its launch. There’s nothing wrong with the "Dance Cam," it’s that we can do so much more.
The goal of the Bills Legion is to organize fans in the Ralph to win games. Our success will be measured by causing the most pre-snap penalties for visiting offenses and reducing fan altercations. We’ll institute best practices from other leagues, stadiums and fans throughout the world—customized with a Bills spirit. We will no longer be simply a "blue collar, small market team," but the most unified, fun, effective crowd in the NFL.
Mrs. Owen, Mr. Brandon, Mr. Whalen—we can lead, but you have to empower us. It will not require large financial resources. It simply requires vision, planning, and sustained effort.
Ralph C. Wilson Jr. loved Western New York because it’s earnest and passionate—we want to cheer, win, and celebrate. He created this team in Buffalo. It’s up to fans to keep it here. It’s 4th & 1. . . he would have gone for it.