It seems like at least a year ago when Bills fans were booing EJ Manuel during the last couple of preseason games. So much has transpired this week since the sale of the team to Kim & Terry Pegula, essentially ending literally decades of fear and doubt about losing our beloved Buffalo Bills after Mr. Wilson passed away.
For years it felt strange and rather ghoulish to obsess about losing a football team in the context of a person’s death. But that’s the nature of the (bison) beast, and its hold on Bills fans around the world.
Suddenly this week the misty fog lifted, and the sun began to shine. One of the more interesting reactions I experienced was realizing how much deeper the fear of losing this team was embedded in the collective psyche of Bills fans.
From tearful radio call-ins, to online social media, to sports websites, and even walking down the street, the outpouring of emotion when the sale of the team was announced was overwhelming. It wasn’t unexpected that the sale would happen soon.
However, the futility of the last 14 years of playoff drought overshadowed how much sale of the team weighed my mind. It seems others may have experienced the same realization. We’ve been carrying this ball and chain around our legs as fans for a really long time.
I’ve never been incarcerated, but can imagine the feeling of getting out of jail and realizing freedom for the first time in 14 years would be a somewhat analogous situation. At first it seemed surreal when I realized the worry about the team leaving was over.
It took a little while to let it sink in. The specter of doubt we have all been toting along was GONE. Woosh. Just like that.
And… just like that, we find ourselves less than a day from the home opener against the division rival Dolphins. The Bills fan base is ready to explode with enthusiasm because they know their team is not going anywhere. This is one of the most important moments in the history of the franchise!
Although I understand all fifteen Dolphin fans in existence intend to invade The Ralph and will their team to victory tomorrow, the news that Bills fans have waited decades for is far more likely to send them packing with a hard dose of reality. Stuff happens when you awaken a sleeping bison!
This young Bills team is about to experience something that hasn’t been seen at The Ralph for 20 years. It’s a ‘carpe diem’ on ‘roids’ type of moment. For fans, all the years of pain and agony, of ragging on each other, of insufferable negativity; we are now staring right into the face of the biggest pivot point that has ever happened in Bills franchise history.
This fan base is now energized in a way it hasn’t been for way too long. It’s my strong belief that this moment, right now, is the right time for the fan base to show this young team how much they value their contribution to the team and to the community.
This is a precise moment in time when fans have the opportunity to bond with dedicated athletes that represent the Western New York communities and Bills fans around the world. We loved Jimbo, Thurman, Bruce, Andre, Steve, Darryl, and all the players from that era because we were emotionally connected with them as elite performers.
We are all aware that this team has underperformed for years. I mentioned in other posts, it’s time to let go of the past. This is our time… the nice marketing slogan does in fact resonate a very good message.
There are so many variables that must line up properly in order for a team to achieve greatness. They truly must bond with each other, and be greater than the sum of their individual parts.
Perhaps the bond between a fan base and players is not taken seriously enough as a means of creating a special chemistry that brings the best out in both groups. Seattle has used that strategy very well. You can see that team is greater than the sum of its parts. We can’t argue with their success at this point either.
For so many years, Bills teams have looked good “on paper,” and ended up with a mediocre or worse record. This young Bills team looks more physically gifted, faster, bigger, and with much more depth at line positions than seen in many years.
The defensive line alone on paper could be arguably the most potent of all time. But poke a hole in it, because paper doesn’t matter. What matters is heart. ‘Heart’ is what takes you to the top of the mountain, and gets you down safely to the other side.
Our hearts have been broken too many times as Bills fans, but we have now just been given a get-out-of-jail free card with a young team of rising stars, new owners, and a spiffy updated crib to boot.
The window of opportunity closes quickly because so many variables go into creating a championship football team. It makes this very moment in time as a Bills fan one of the most important for allowing yourself to ‘Billieve.’ It’s never been more important for the fan base to embrace this team and enjoy this moment of celebration.
The curse of uncertainty is finally gone. Now there is nothing holding us back but ourselves. We can put this bunch of greenhorns on the back of our fan base and carry them all the way to the Super Bowl someday, maybe sooner than later. It’s really OK to come out of the bunker and enjoy the sunshine of success.
There is more than a rebirth with the Bills going on. Buffalo is coming back. Anyone who disparages the city obviously hasn’t been to Pegulaville lately. But it’s not just Pegulaville that is creating a renaissance of sorts in Buffalo.
The rebirth of the city of Buffalo is nothing short of staggering compared to when I lived in North Buffalo in the mid 1970s. Every week there are buildings being bought for renovation, not demolition. The city planners of today have a vast number of redevelopment projects that are jaw dropping in creativity and scope.
The city is reawakening, and so are we. The time is right for the page to be turned. Part of that inflection point just happened with the knowledge that our teams (the Sabres and Bills) are not going to leave town like the Braves did.
The Bills have had talented teams over the past 20 years, but they’ve lacked one with heart for far too long. You can see the inkling of some heart and bonding with this year’s group on the field when they beat Chicago at their place for the first time, ever.
The Chicago game was a solid road win over a good Bears team. Now as Bills fans, we have a chance to let go of our shackles, and be happy and excited about this young team. The page has turned. Mr. Wilson’s legacy will carry on, and our beloved team is staying right where they belong in Western New York.
There’s never been a better time for this fan base to bond with this young team than this precise moment. Let’s replace the sound of the booing with the loudest rocking fans that Ralph Wilson Stadium has ever put forth.
I’d like to thank every Bills fan that reads this for all the great experiences we’ve shared over the years. As crazy as we are, our devotion remains steadfast. We love our Buffalo Bills, and they are here to stay.
Thanks for the chance to learn more about how the Bills became a part of your life. This season has “turning point” written all over it. If the team can stay healthy, remain focused, and the chemistry with the fan base improves, it could be a very special season, maybe even one where there is a second season. Go Bills!