Fans across the country often gravitate toward players with whom they feel they have a special connection. The common term used to describe these players are as "fan favorites," and the Buffalo Bills are no exception. There are usually a number of characteristics that can help a player resonate with fans, and below are a few examples to help look at some of the candidates.
The underdog story: The most recent example for the Bills would be former running back, Fred Jackson. Coming out of a small Division III school, no one would have expected Jackson to make it to the NFL. His story is well-documented with Bills fans, and his underdog story quickly made him a fan favorite. Even when the Bills used high draft picks (C.J. Spiller, Marshawn Lynch) for what looked like his replacement, it was Jackson who persevered, and was admired most by Bills fans.
Social media savvy: A former Bill that fit this mold for me would be Boobie Dixon. While he had limited opportunities on the field, Dixon was very active in engaging with fans through social media channels. As fans want to feel a closeness with their team, the opportunity to connect on Twitter can quickly make a player a fan favorite. Who can forget when Boobie started watching Breaking Bad and live-tweeted the experience?
The community activist: What team would possibly have their punter as a fan favorite? The Bills. Brian Moorman had a successful career as the Bills punter, but it was his work in the community that helped him connect with the fan base. Moorman and his wife, Amber, started the P.U.N.T. Foundation in 2004, and dedicated much of their time to helping children battling cancer throughout Western New York. His longevity with the Bills, coupled with his community efforts, made Moorman a face of the franchise throughout the 2000s.
The blue-collar guy: This term best describes Kyle Williams and his role with the Bills. He does not receive a lot of endorsements or do endless public appearances, but he lets his play speak for itself. Williams has been successful despite lacking ideal size, being a fifth-round draft pick, and playing through injuries and defensive scheme changes. If you needed to be reminded of how Williams embodies that spirit, go to the 53-second mark of this clip following the 2014 win over Green Bay.
Who is the next fan favorite for Bills fans? Jackson, Dixon and Moorman are no longer playing in Buffalo, and Williams is 32 years old and likely nearing the end of his successful career. Let us know who your picks are for the next Bills fan favorite based on the criteria listed above.