For as long as I can remember, I've always been an insecure Buffalo Bills fan.
Like many of you, I've dealt with people criticizing the team, the players, the fans, and the city. I got into fights as a child with Jets fans asking me if I knew what the letters "B-I-L-L-S" stood for. Even as a younger adult, I found myself in stadium brawls with opposing fans; I have even been permanently barred from MetLife Stadium. Regretfully, I have even engaged in Twitter wars with trolls bashing the team. If a former player or analyst says anything remotely negative about the Bills, I get upset. I'm so insecure that I created a list of everyone that wronged the team, or upset me in some way (and I'm officially soliciting more names in the comments section).
When rumors surfaced regarding Jon Bon Jovi and his bid to buy the team, I didn't actively campaign against him, but I was supportive of the movement. When ESPN does their divisional breakdown of the AFC East, they always save the Bills for last, giving them a two-minute segment when everyone else gets five. Many here have noticed that when a network covering the NFL Draft decides to go on a commercial break, the Bills are probably on the clock. Year after year, they're passed up yet again for a real prime time game. When these things happen, I make mental notes of it all and add it to my even longer list of conspiracies.
The oversights, coupled with the constant ridicule, the losing, having to overpay for free agents, and the (since resolved) uncertainty of the team's future; it's all made me a really sensitive and insecure fan. As I write this, I know for a fact I'm not the only one.
Today's Morning Joe is for all the Bills fans out there who are like me: that had to endure years of neglect and abuse by mainstream media and players. Our time has arrived.
We now have a competitive team, and are a few players away from being a really good team. There are owners in place who seem committed to winning, and more importantly, keeping the team in Buffalo. We have an abundance of young, talented players, and potential superstars in the making. We have a head coach, Rex Ryan, who is a rock star (which is better than having a rock star owner), and probably the biggest star to come to Buffalo since Terrell Owens.
The city has been invigorated by the Buffalo Billion Investment Development plan, which features new waterfront and neighborhood revitalization plans. The city's hockey team, the Sabres, has a chance to land a generational player in the next NHL Draft in Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.
It is truly a great time to be a fan of the Bills and the city of Buffalo. I feel like the tide is turning, making the team, city, and region a very powerful entity.
But let's pump the brakes for a second. As Peter Parker's uncle Ben said, "Remember, with great power comes great responsibility."
This team will get the coverage and the attention that we've all desired. However, we have to be prepared to handle what comes with that. Our flamboyant and boisterous head coach is going to say and do things that will have the media and the naysayers champing at the bit to criticize. We signed Richie Incognito, one of the most hated players in the NFL. Every analyst is waiting to criticize the move, so that they can say "I told you so." There is going to be some unfair and unwarranted criticism coming our way, and as a fan base we have to be prepared for it.
No more are the days where a player can say and do things in their little bubble, because no one cares or is listening. This team, this city, and we the fans are going to be under a huge microscope. Writers and bloggers that cover the team are going to be asked by major media outlets to join them in discussions on radio and television. Things that get said here are going to be considered the "voice of the fans." Our little meaningless tweets are going to be broadcasted on ESPN and networks alike.
During the Super Bowl run in the '90s, Marv Levy use to tell his players, "Act like you've been there before." As a fan base, it's going to be imperative that we do the same. We can't be sensitive and insecure anymore. We have to be a confident bunch, and accepting of our new role. No longer are we going to be the lovable losers; instead, we're going to be the team that everyone loves to hate with a huge target on our backs.