The Buffalo Bills exceeded expectations during the 2017 season, posting a 9-7 record and qualifying for the AFC playoffs, snapping a 17-year playoff drought in the process.
During their joint year-ending press conference, first-year general manager Brandon Beane and first-year head coach Sean McDermott admitted there is still plenty of work to do when it comes to the short- and long-term future of the Bills, but one area where Buffalo needs no improvement is its loyal and passionate fan base.
Both Beane and McDermott started off their press conference by professing their gratitude for Bills fans, as throughout the year, even when the team endured a three-game slide that took the sparkle off of a 5-2 start, Buffalo’s brass said they always felt the love and support of Bills fans.
That was never more evident than during the team’s 10-3 Wild Card setback to the Jacksonville Jaguars, when Bills fans flocked to EverBank Field in the thousands to witness the first Bills playoff game since the Music City Miracle, Jan. 8, 2000.
Bills. Fans. Everywhere. pic.twitter.com/tlSAEiyHUv— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) January 7, 2018
1,038 miles from Buffalo to Jacksonville— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) January 6, 2018
15 hour drive
200 cases of Labatt Blue and Blue Light shipped
8,045 days since our last playoff game
Thousands of Bills fans on their way
Bills fans travel to Jacksonville, by the (awesome!) numbers: https://t.co/H0h6ZYcyxt pic.twitter.com/hgtmkKc9We
When the team arrived back in Western New York after clinching that elusive playoff berth, Bills fans braved sub-freezing temperatures to give the team a warm welcome. When the Bills’ plane landed in Jacksonville, fans were there to welcome their team back to the playoffs. And when the Bills landed back in Buffalo after the playoff loss, there were those same fans, again braving the wind, snow, and cold to cheer on their team.
Best fans in the world. #GoBills pic.twitter.com/olOgQ4Mc1P— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) January 8, 2018
Fans cheering THANK YOU!— Shannon Smith (@SmithNews4) January 8, 2018
Coach McDermott just walked over and gave #BillsFans a round of applause pic.twitter.com/Wum61rB4RQ
Here’s what Beane and McDermott had to say about Buffalo Bills fans:
McDermott: “I want to start off by saying a few words and really just reaching out to our fan base and thanking them for their support all throughout the year. [It was an] incredible year and the energy around this city and the energy around our fan base was just phenomenal throughout this season. I thought it helped us get through some of the highs and lows of the season and it was great to see everyone show up in Jacksonville the way they did. This has been an entirely team effort from the start and the entire building has been on board.”
Beane: “To echo what Sean said, I don’t really talk during the season but man, how impressed I was with this fan base [and] the passion. You kind of knew it from afar, you knew what you were walking into but until you experience what it was like this season – you know, we had some very good moments, we had our low moments when we lost three in a row, but just the passion and the outpouring of, you saw some of the videos from our locker room to the fans showing up at -3° or -4° or whatever it was when we landed back from Miami. Man, it’s emotional even to talk about. You see what it means and our guys saw that and felt it and I definitely thought everyone, as Sean said, it was a team effort and that includes the fans as well.”
Even after the press conference, Beane and McDemott showed their appreciation, walking around and shaking hands with reporters and speaking to them in a more informal setting.
Want proof that the culture is changing with the #Bills under Sean McDermott? After his end of the season press conference he shook the hand of every member of the media and thanked them for their coverage of the team. #ClassAct pic.twitter.com/Ek0BYpcqoo— Rich Donnelly (@whec_rdonnelly) January 9, 2018