Two years ago, the Buffalo Bills played in their first playoff game since the 1999 season. It was 17 years of heartbreak, underperforming teams, celebrating moral victories and individual successes, and no playoff games. This year, after a one-year playoff drought, it feels different.
Admittedly, I grew up a lot between the last two Bills playoff games. I was a junior in high school in January of 2000 and had grown up with Buffalo being a playoff team. “They’ll be back.”
But they weren’t.
I moved to college, graduated, got a great job, moved back, married my wife, moved again, started writing for a tiny blog, welcomed two kids, moved again, took over leading a much bigger blog, and lost my father to cancer among the major milestones between playoff games.
I cried when the Bills made the playoffs. In someone else’s house. At a New Year’s Eve party. Alone.
It was so shocking, so remarkable, and the emotion and the way we went from downtrodden to joyful on 4th and long when the Bills weren’t even playing. It was a moment.
This... doesn’t feel like a moment. Today doesn’t feel remarkable or shocking.
No one is discussing what’s happened since the last Bills’ playoff game in terms of life events. No one is joking about how “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran was the number-one song in the country or that Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was the top film or that the average price of gas was so different.
Today feels like a step for an organization that hit the reset button when founder Ralph Wilson passed away, first with Terry and Kim Pegula, then Sean McDermott followed by Brandon Beane, and again with Josh Allen and company.
I’m not saying the Bills will win (but they really can) or that we will be in the playoffs every year from here on out (but they really can), but this team and fan base have turned a corner. You’ll see the national perception change in the primetime games on Buffalo’s schedule this year.
Today, hopefully, the feeling won’t be the only thing that’s different. Hopefully instead of a 10-3 loss to Jacksonville, the Bills will get a win.
That’d be pretty different.