Welcome to the refreshed Buffalo Rumblings! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts [link here] to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [contest rules]. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!
Why am I a fan of the Buffalo Bills?
It’s a question I (and most of you, no doubt) have asked myself time and time again. Why do I continually put myself through this? Why do I keep coming back to root for a team that hasn’t even made the playoffs since I, a 30-year-old, was in seventh grade?
I was pretty young when the Bills hit their stride in the early 1990’s. I have vague memories of watching Super Bowl XXVIII on TV when I was seven years old, so I don’t have too many memories of Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, and Bruce Smith playing live. Of course, that’s more than many of today’s fans have; a person who was born the day of the last Bills playoff game is about to graduate from high school.
So, if not a working memory of success, then what is it?
I feel like a lot of it has to do with the sense of community that’s built up over the years, especially during The Drought. We’ve all been through this together, seeing our team go through ups and downs and downs and some more downs and maybe another down or two. We all remember the Home Run Throwforward, Week 17 of the 2004 season, and those God-awful Browns games.
We all survived Rex Ryan, Dick Jauron, and Chan Gailey. We went through Doug Whaley, Tom Donahoe, and the ill-fated return of Marv Levy. We all saw Kelly Holcomb, Thad Lewis, and Rob Johnson start multiple games at quarterback.
I say “we” because, at this point, there aren’t any fairweather fans left. Do you think half of the people with a Dak Prescott jersey in their closet remember Quincy Carter? If you polled fifty Patriots fans, how many of them would know that Bill Belichick’s immediate predecessor was Pete Carroll? I really don’t think that Doug Johnson brings up the same ire for Falcons fans that Trent Edwards does for Bills fans. Aside from Browns fans, I’m not sure any NFL fans can relate to what we’ve been through.
As an extension of that, we can also pretty much trust that every Bills fan is a legitimate Bills fan. There is no Bills bandwagon. We don’t have to worry about anybody packing up and leaving when the team hits the skids, because that point has long since passed. If you’re still here, you aren’t going anywhere. We’re all lifelong members of the #BillsMafia at this point.
A quick aside, now that I bring that hashtag up. It’s definitely a point of pride for me to see what we’ve been able to do when we come together. People like Del Reid, using the Bills (and Sabres) as a springboard to do things that make the world a better place, is just awesome. I’m assuming most of you have at least one bit from 26 Shirts in your dresser...if not, you’d do well to change that.
The game day experience is something else that has few equals. While we’ve all seen the Deadspin videos of Bills fans being idiots, we’re not all that way. That’s not to say we don’t enjoy a good time, or that we’re all that sober in the parking lot before a game, but the tailgating is something that’s quintessential to the Bills experience. I’ll never forget my first tailgate (I even mentioned it in one of my first pieces here), and it’s part of the reason I try to make it to at least one Bills game every season.
That reminds me of another factor in this relationship. Having left Buffalo six years ago, my love of the Bills helps me feel connected to home. It’s funny how just about every Bills fan I meet at this point is either from Western New York or has some connection to the area. I always enjoy seeing a Bills fan out at the bar and having a talk about the old neighborhood, wherever it may be.
You may have noticed that football doesn’t have a whole lot to do with my being a Bills fan. It played a lot into the beginning, as I’m sure it did for many of you. At this point, I think most of us are just waiting for the party that’s going to come when the Bills finally make it back to the playoffs. It might not be this year (in fact, it probably won’t be), but it’s coming, and when it gets here...that should be fun.
It really stopped being about football a while ago for me. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait for the Bills to actually be a competitive team again, but at this point it’s really secondary for me. Being a Bills fan is in my blood at this point. It’s a badge of honor, something that shows my loyalty and ability to be proud of something that isn’t the best of the bunch.
How about you?
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