As a new Buffalo Bills fan, especially if you don’t live near Buffalo, it can sometimes feel as though you’re on the outside looking in. The team and their fans have been through just about everything together and, while you’re proud of their history and wear your lucky Bills hat every game day, you just can’t seem to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes them tick.
The answer is fairly simple, though, and you needn’t look any further than the city they play in to start understanding (and becoming part of) the essence that breathes life into the Bills and their fans, popularly referred to as the “Bills Mafia.”
It’s no secret that just the mention of the word “Buffalo” conjures up negative images in the minds of many NFL players and fans alike. It’s true that, sitting in rather close proximity to Lake Erie, the city does tend to be brutally cold in the winter time and often gets buried under piles of snow. Still, some residents do seem to have a natural affinity for the weather.
Sakara and Luna, Polar bears at the Buffalo Zoo, enjoy the cold and snow on International Polar Bear Day. #buffalo #buffalozoo #WildlifeWednesday #polarbears #winter #snow #photography #nature #wildlife #nikon #February #InternationalPolarBearDay #photoshoot pic.twitter.com/ZnPJoFF8sH— Gary Wiepert (@GaryWiepert) February 28, 2019
There are also those people who claim that there’s nothing to do in Buffalo, like former Bills wide receiver Jordan Matthews (and Willis McGahee before him). Matthews infamously stated that he became a father while playing for them because “There wasn’t anything to do there but each other.” Of course we de-bunked that myth when we created this post, detailing the many, many places in and near Buffalo that you can visit to have a great time, both with family and friends.
Building snowmen with your kids and being able to consume the best wings in the country are amazing experiences, but they don’t quite compare to the core values behind the City of Buffalo. Nicknamed “The City of Good Neighbors”, Buffalo residents are genuinely nice people and, overall, the city has a sense of community and togetherness that is rivaled by few.
For instance, when a snowstorm hits, residents can be seen helping their neighbors shovel out their driveways and sidewalks and their goodwill has even seemed to rub off on Bills players. In 2014, when over four feet of snow was dumped on the city, former Bills defensive end Mario Williams brought his skid-steer over to Jim Kelly’s house to plow him out. During that same storm, Dan Carpenter, then the kicker for the team, helped shovel for his 88-year-old neighbor and head coach at the time Doug Marrone aided a driver who was stuck on the road.
It’s no wonder that the term “Buffalove” has been coined when talking about the people who live there. They may not always agree on politics or sports, but they’re always willing to lend a helping hand to each other. The same can be said for the Bills, as current coach Sean McDermott preaches brotherhood and unity on a constant basis and it’s beginning to show.
Buffalo has also long been known for being a blue-collar city (with plenty of white collars mixed in) filled with hardworking people who want nothing but the best all the way around. This sentiment has manifested over the years with the revitalization of its waterfront, a plethora of new businesses, restaurants and bars popping up all over, and the influx of millennials choosing to call Buffalo “home.” In fact, many articles have listed Buffalo as being one of the up-and-coming “cool” cities around America. Of course it took a lot of hard work by the residents to get there and it’s something they’re very proud of, as they should be.
The Bills also embody and value a strong work ethic and the determination to return the team to their former state of glory that they experienced during their Super Bowl runs of the early 90s. They all have one goal—being the best team in the NFL—and their focus is always geared towards it. Sean McDermott calls it “The Process” and players have to buy into it in order to stick around. Just like their city, the team works hard and wants to be the very best.
If you’re a newer Bills fan and you haven’t visited Buffalo yet, it’s highly recommended. Not only will you be accepted with open arms (and by those hopefully offering some amazing wings from one of the many great restaurants around the city), but you’ll also get to experience the “Buffalove” that fuels the residents and team. The Bills are truly a reflection of the city that houses them and by getting to know Buffalo, you’ll start to understand what it truly means to be a fan.