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Loyalty or lunacy? December 1, 2009

Posted by paulstella in Uncategorized.

Sipping on my white chocolate mocha, I reach into the pocket of my Buffalo Bills hoodie and unexpectedly find that it’s empty. My friend Steve, donning his Bills cap, is still at the counter. Sunday’s game against the hated Miami Dolphins had concluded moments earlier, and we were in the midst of our routine post-game pit stop at Starbucks before departing Orchard Park.

“Steve, I need to run back to the car and track down my Blackberry,” I say. He nodded at me nonchalantly.

“Why are you guys smiling?” asks the Starbucks clerk. “Did they…win?!”

“Yeah, baby!” answered the bald guy behind Steve, smiling more broadly than the two of us combined.

Another soldout crowd at the Ralph on Nov. 29, 2009

That kind of enthusiasm is rare in Billsville these days. Last Sunday provided only the second victory to emerge from the 10 most recent home games at the Ralph. And those 10 games are representative of 10 years that the team has gone without making the playoffs—as this season is almost assuredly to be become the 10th.

As a Bills season ticket holder, this season has really taken a toll on my psyche. How can one team be so bad for so long, particularly one that enjoyed so much success in the previous decade? Still I go, and last Sunday reminded me why I go—and why Bills fans are deserving of so much better.

Scanning the stadium, I couldn’t help but feel proud to see another packed house. Having just returned from San Diego, I had to laugh at media reports there of an impending ‘black out.’ Chargers fans were in danger of not watching their team on TV last weekend because they hadn’t sold out their game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers are, once again, a legitimate Super Bowl contender this year. What more incentive do you need to sell seats? Obviously fair weather fans—literally and figuratively!

And one week earlier, I couldn’t help but notice that a lot of Jacksonville Jaguars fans showed up to their home game against the Bills dressed as empty seats.

As much as I’d like to think this speaks to the loyalty and character of us Bills fans, I do sometimes wonder if such analysis is overly generous. Maybe we’re just a bunch of idiots who don’t know when to come in from the rain—or the snow—or the hurricane-force wind gusts that blow the rain and the snow into our frost-bitten faces.

Still, I believe it’s more to do with optimism that—in Buffalo—is often shaken but never extinguished. Sooner or later, that optimism is bound to be rewarded. Right? I just hope it happens in my lifetime. Yeah, baby!



1. Jenn Hinton - December 4, 2009

Mmm, white chocolate mocha from Starbucks, now that is something that never disappoints! Congratulations on your “win”, you deserve it! Your loyalty is commendable-you can’t be a fair weather fan!

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