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AFC Championship Game: A letter to America about the Buffalo Bills and Bills Mafia

Wild Card Round - Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images
Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

Dear America,

You’ve laughed at us and have made us the butt of jokes time after time over the last 30 years. For many of those years, the team or the front office or the coaching has deserved it.

We held it against you.

We still do, honestly. We love this team and we bare our broken hearts like badges of honor.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

I’m here to offer you a spot on the Buffalo Bills bandwagon.

Sure, we’ve got a cool QB and a hot WR, and a stalwart, punch-you-in-the-mouth defense, but that’s not why you should root for the Buffalo Bills.

As much as we have and the hard-earned victories we’ve grinded for, you probably relate to the Bills more than you realize.

See, Buffalo has been a powerhouse of a city. It was the gateway to the West WAYYYYYY back in the day. We ran the show. When the Erie Canal opened up, we called shots. So much so that we were the very first city in the USA to use electricity. That electricity powered the steel mills and grain elevators that were the heartbeat of this city and this region for GENERATIONS.

And then times changed quick and we found ourselves from the top down towards the bottom.

The Buffalo Bills of the last 30 years have been a perfect reflection of that dynamic: used to be really great and EVERYBODY talked about the big ballers and shot-callers that were BUFFALO. And then they lost it all and no one has heard barely anything for the last 30 years until now.

Now, things have been turning around the last couple years for this city and this team. A lot of things fell apart, and don’t get me wrong—that HURT. But every day we’ve picked ourselves up and tried to make what we can of tomorrow.

Enter 2020.

Like countless places across this country, 2020 has thrown nonstop, rapid-fire haymakers left and right every day for the last year.

2020 (and 2020: Director’s Cut) was/has been hands down one of the worst years of my life.

That’s not to say there haven’t been some strong moments of great accomplishment. There have.

But if I’m being honest, this year has delivered body-blow after body-blow and what victories I’ve had just don’t outdo the hurt and the pain that has encompassed the days of the past year. If you’re like me, you can feel that there’s no winning and the best you can hope for is just not losing (but 2020 and 2020+ are still grinding away).

Enter the 2020 Buffalo Bills.

Faced with challenges from opt-outs, injuries, and all that 2020 has thrown at this once bumbling and incompetent franchise, this team has gritted its teeth, believed in and invested in its people, and leaned on each other, and has found ways to achieve victory when so much is stacked against them.

There ain’t been many days this past year that haven’t felt like my world or my life is all falling apart.

But this team.

This team that has—like clockwork—found ways to fail one way or another over the past 30 years, has instead found ways to win despite all the reasons why it shouldn’t.

The red, white, and blue isn’t coincidence. The Buffalo Bills are America’s team.

Not just for the colors, not just for winning.

But because I think we can all relate to the bottom just falling out. Everything falling apart. Loss after loss after loss stacking up higher and higher.

But you win by shaking off yesterday and seizing today as best you can. And when you get beaten down, yet again, you keep getting back up.

Because, in truth, life isn’t about winning. It’s about facing its challenges and not quitting.

You lose by quitting.

This team has faced odds and challenges it shouldn’t have succeeded against. And it hasn’t quit because things were “too big” or “too much” to overcome.

It rised. It grinded. And right now, despite all the doubt, despite all the reasons “why not,” it found a way and has stacked W after W after W and is two wins away from winning it all for the first time in its history.

After 2020 (and 2021 so far), we could all use a reminder that tomorrow always comes. Tomorrow’s a new day. And not quitting and just keeping trying will get you so far in life, even if you don’t see the changes overnight.

So—while we’re known for circling the wagons, dragging all the doubters and haters and ANYONE who has EVER slighted us in even the smallest of ways—here’s a seat on the bandwagon.

2020 has been kind to no one and you’re still here.

You’ve earned a spot to feel joy and be reminded that hope pays off.

As I’ve said before: we win by looking out for each other.

So no matter who you are or what franchise you come from, welcome. It is my hope that you feel in your bones the phrase: “No one circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills.”



Editor’s note: This letter was written by Aaron McDuffie and sent to Bruce Nolan as part of his Almighty Takes segment for his podcast this week. We are sharing it in full here with permission and no edits other than an inserted link for background.