The Buffalo Bills are defined as losers. If someone isn't talking about their ten-year playoff drought, the conversation turns to their four Super Bowl losses. If you say that a team or a person is "the Buffalo Bills of..." then it means they came oh-so-close frequently, but failed to seal the deal.
For those of you that don't know, my real job is as a middle school teacher. Each day, I interact with hundreds of students aged 11-13, and on Friday, we were encouraged to wear our favorite team colors in honor of the Super Bowl. I wore my Bruce Smith jersey, since he is the greatest player in team history, in my personal opinion.
None of my students wanted to talk about the Hall of Famer, though. One of my sixth grade students that was born during or after the last Bills playoff run in 1999 asked what jersey I was wearing. That didn't surprise me. What did surprise me was hearing the next "joke" the students yelled across the lunch room.
"Hey Mr. Warren. Know what BILLS stands for?"
I cringed internally but maintained my joyful exterior.
"Boy I Love Losing Super Bowls."
And so it goes.
Later on in the day, as I was working in the area where students get picked up by their parents, an eighth grader who I have in class and study hall walked up to me since his parents weren't there to collect him yet.
"How can you like the Bills, Mr. Warren? They suck."
After I told him that "suck" wasn't an appropriate word for middle school, he reminded me they still "stink". My first response was that they were one of the handful of best teams in the NFL that season. Four straight years they were tops in the AFC, and one of the only two teams with a chance to be called champion. But that's not what many outside Western New York remember or care about.
It's a tragedy that the early '90s Bills didn't win one just to avoid the jokes, jabs, and stigma. They deserved better. It's the reason that every year I root for the team that hasn't won the Super Bowl out of habit.
A year ago, it was New Orleans Saints or Indianapolis Colts? Peyton Manning won his Lombardi trophy, so let's root for Drew Brees to take it.
Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin and the majority of that Steelers team know what it's like to feel the confetti rain down. Aaron Rodgers might always be the guy who couldn't replace Favre if he doesn't win one. That's why I am rooting for the Packers today.
I root for the team that hasn't done it yet every time, and I hope they return the favor when Buffalo returns to the big stage in that next Super Bowl trip.