Editor’s note: Say hello to Mark Philip (aka @ChunkyLover80 on Twitter), who approached me (Del) earlier today asking if he could share his story on the Bills Mafia Blog. After reading what he wanted to share, I agreed. So here it is… Enjoy!
The earliest memory I have of the Buffalo Bills is watching my first Super Bowl (XXV), against the Giants. I was 10 years old. To this day I don’t know why I wanted the Bills to win and not the Giants, but I am so glad that on that night I chose to become a Bills fan. They may have lost the game, but they made me a fan for life. Did I mention that I am from Long Island?
Growing up on Long Island, I was, and still am, the only Bills fan I have ever known that is originally from Long Island, and not Upstate/Western New York. (Not to say there aren’t others out there, but I have never met one). All of my friends were Jets or Giants fans, and the occasional front-runner 49ers and Cowboys fan. Being from Long Island, my only chance to see the Bills was the two times a year they played the Jets, and the occasional MNF game. All of my knowledge of the Bills came from highlights on ESPN (no internet, Twitter, or Sunday Package back then folks).
As most fans in my age group, my favorite player was Jim Kelly. My room quickly filled up with his posters, followed by Thurman, Andre, and Bruce. As the Bills kept losing Super Bowls, my love for those teams and the players on them grew. It is hard to be a fan of a team in a place where no one else shares your allegiance. The only reason my friends knew anybody on the Bills was because at that time, the Bills were nationally relevant, and had many future Hall of Famers.
I was the kid in school who was always wearing a jersey. I will never forget my first Jim Kelly jersey, and I wore it proudly. I wore that thing to school every Monday after a Bills win, which was pretty often back in those days.
In High School, I had a friend who was a big football fan (Giants). However, he had much respect for the Buffalo Bills. We and a bunch of our friends played after school pretty regularly. I would play quarterback and he would be a wide receiver. Whenever we wanted to run a deep pass play, with pump-fake of course, we called the play “Kelly/Reed.”
In the fall of 1996, I made my first trip to Buffalo and (at the time) Rich Stadium. It was an amazing experience to see the team that I love playing on their home turf. The Bills easily beat the Bengals, and I got to see all of my favorite Bills players that made me a fan in the first place before they retired or went on to play for other teams.
My next visit back to Buffalo was not until 2007, the MNF game against the Cowboys. The crowd was electrifying that night, as anyone who was there that night knows. We all know the outcome, but for me, being there at that game made me realize just how much I loved the Bills, the city of Buffalo and it’s neighboring communities. I made myself a promise that night to get back up to Buffalo at least once a season for a game, and I have lived up to that promise. Last season, I went to the Philadelphia game, and it was the first time I had seen a win in Buffalo since my first visit in 1996!
For years, I have wanted to move to Buffalo. I feel that it is my “Mecca.” People from Long Island always make fun of me when I say I want to live there, and it pisses me off every time. They hear Buffalo, and they think cold weather and a boring/run down city. I see Buffalo as the place where I want to live, have a family and raise some kids. It’s strange, but I feel that it is my destiny to live up there at some point. Unfortunately, my parents are elderly, and one of them has cancer, so I cannot make the move at this time.
When I first heard about the #BillsMafia, I just thought it was a cool twitter hash tag. Over the past year I have realized what being part of it is all about, and how cool so many of the fellow members are. Also, as being a Bills fan who lives on Long Island, it is a way to make me feel like being a part of Buffalo in a small way, and a great way to follow the team I love. Hopefully I can meet up with some of the #FAMbase when I go to one of the games this season (Miami game hopefully)!
Lastly, I love how this current team is so in tune with the fans, and even though we aren’t the ones on the field, they make us feel like part of the team. I have a great feeling for the upcoming season, the first time I have really felt this way since I was a kid watching the Super Bowl teams go at it each season.
LET’S GO BUFFALO! #BillsMafia