What’s up my fellow Mafioso? In the past two weeks, I’ve been back in my hometown of Olean, went to a wedding in Cortland, and made several trips to Buffalo.
So where do I begin to wrap up the past two weeks? Well for one, Cortland, New York must have the highest population of Jets fan per square acre in the entire United States. I couldn’t get over how much Jets memorabilia was all over that city. Of course, the Jets hold their training camp there, but it was still very surprising to me to see so much Jets stuff all over the place there. They even had “Welcome Jets Fans!” painted across the exit ramp on 81 going into Cortland. Needless to say, I felt out of place.
This past Monday, I went to an Iron Maiden and Alice Cooper concert in Buffalo. For anyone who is into metal music, or even just enjoys spectacular performances, this concert was flat out incredible. While I was there, I had several people come up to me and give me a high five simply for wearing a Bills hat to the concert. I have to say, I love it every time that happens.
One of the thing I enjoyed the most about the concert was how Iron Maiden’s front man, Bruce Dickinson (Yes, THE Bruce Dickinson) made the crowd feel as though they were part of the show, and even part of the band. This really made me think about the Bills, and how we as fans can actually feel as though we are part of the team because of our devotion to the team and the way that the team, especially the players, embrace the fans. This got me thinking, so I did a little research on the most fan-friendly teams in the NFL. The results were quite surprising. I found a ranking done by ESPN, and was able to trace the NFL’s team rankings by fan relations for the past five seasons. To start, ESPN defines “Fan Relations” as “Openness an consideration shown to fans from players, coaches, and management.” So here are the Bills’ rankings for the past five seasons, as well as the team ranked highest in parenthesis.
2007: Bills Rank- 15th (Colts ranked #1)
2008: Bills Rank- 11th (Packers ranked #1)
2009: Bills Rank- 29 (Steelers #1)
2010: Bills Rank 30 (Saints #1)
2011: Bills Rank- 24 (Saints #1)
Hard to believe, right? It certainly was to me. Last year, according to ESPN, there were 23 teams in the NFL that had better relations with their fans than the Buffalo Bills. While the past several years have not been very kind to the Bills and their fans in terms of win-loss record, one thing that Bills fans have always been able to say is that our players have always been very fan-friendly. They are regularly making appearances around Western New York, and even outside of New York State. There is near constant conversation between the Bills players and the fans on Twitter.
Do other teams really have better relations with their fans? I guess I can’t really say, since I’ve never rooted for another team in the NFL. But what I can say is this: I’ll take the Bills Mafia over any day against another team’s fans in terms of dedication and sheer tenacity for the love of our team.
Until next time, Soundtrack out.