Bills Fans For The Win: An Outstanding Home Season Opening Performance

After consuming a lot of great media coverage about how the “pesky” Bills rolled the Dolphins at The Ralph on Sunday, it seemed like the real winners for the entire weekend were Bills fans. The crowd was incredible and made the rest of us that could not be there very proud. This was a first class performance by Bills fans!

Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
Bills fans were loud and proud of their team on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.  (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

We could hear you all the way to Wyoming. I had the pregame coverage from WGR-550 going on my smartphone, and started crying when I heard the response from the crowd when Jim Kelly was introduced. Cried like a baby, and it wouldn’t be the last time that glorious day.

Honestly, the Dolphins had no chance of winning that game. The stadium was full of more love and happiness than we’ve seen for over 20 years there. However, this time it was different.

There was a beautiful passing of the torch by honoring Mr. Ralph Wilson, and Mrs. Mary Wilson honoring us with her presence. If you ever wanted to know what a class act looks like, look no further than Mrs. Wilson. She is the epitome of elegance. Hope she comes back for more games in the future.

As far as opponents, it wouldn’t have mattered a fig what team the Bills played on Sunday. The players saw the response of the fan base on Saturday when they tried to get to the stadium. They could not get past miles of RVs. They fed off the frenzy. They gave out autographs to move through the traffic lines. On Saturday!

There are times in life when surreal things happen. The last week for fans of the Buffalo Bills has been mind altering in so many ways. There was a tremendous tribute to the past, and a strong sense that the new era in ownership will be taking on a team with more than just a talented roster.

This team is different. The players are saying it, the coaches are saying it, and from what I’ve read on my Twitter timeline, the majority of people that attended the game on Sunday felt “IT” as well. Stella is getting her groove back, folks.

However, this fan base has been awakened in the past, only to be given one emotional concussion after another for most of the last couple of decades. We have conditioned ourselves to expect failure around every curve in the road.

Something mentioned in a previous post comes to mind here. As much as we expect the players to tote a different attitude and play with passion, what about fans? We are loud, that’s for sure. We are as passionate or more than most fans in the NFL.

But the last decade of despair hit us hard. We don’t know how to enjoy success without fearing the ‘inevitable’ self-destruct mode that the last decade of Bills teams have put out. Winning will help change years of toxic emotional states, and does wonders for the soul.

The players and coaches are about to get a new boss, and it’s like cleansing the entire organization as far as ridding any sense of complacency. We are seeing what a “let it all hang out” general manager and coaching staff are doing this season with this young bunch of athletes. The mandate is to win now or face the possibility of looking for a new job after Terry and Kim Pegula get settled.

The “win now” strategy is evidenced with starters playing with special teams units. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen franchise players returning kicks, but I’m more than willing to give Saint Doug the benefit of the doubt.

After all, since Doug is a saint, he’s probably got an ‘in’ with his boss. Maybe he’ll put in a good word to keep the injury bug off our team this season as well. We’ve certainly been blessed for the most part after two games (*crossing fingers*). We’ll need that good fortune to stay with us to have a chance to get to the playoffs this season.

Yes, playoffs (why can’t I stop thinking of Jim Mora?). The Bills are now 2-0 and in sole possession of first place in the AFCE. Yes, we’ve been in this situation a few times in the last five plus decades. And yes, horrible things have gone wrong since the turn of the century for this team.

Cautious optimism is understandable. I appreciate when Bills fans talk about being realistic, but also optimistic. It’s really the only way we have managed to survive loving this abysmal team for so long. It truly is a survival mechanism as a Bills fan.

Along with the aches and pains of old age, I’ve also learned that while it’s prudent to be cautious, there’s something to be said for just allowing yourself to experience true joy without all the “but, what ifs, and other worries” that we can’t control.

That positive feeling that everyone felt at The Ralph needs to stay as laser focused as the players executing on the field. Think about it. As fans, we have the choice to let go of the past and enter a new era with this young team. We expect them to up their game, right?

Well, what about us? When you heard from almost everyone from players to coaches to front office staff talking about how jazzed the atmosphere was on Sunday at The Ralph, you have to sense there is a seismic shift going on with the future of this franchise.

We need to shift ourselves into that gear and ride it out as far as we can with this team, for as long as we can keep this team rolling. That is what is feeding the soul of the lion! This team has the talent to achieve great things.

My goal is to strive for detaching from the feeling that disaster is around every corner, that the team is cursed, and all that other negative garbage I’ve been toting around for way too long. Every fan can do whatever they want. It’s your thing. Write your script whichever way you choose.

But when you look at how this team played on Sunday, and how much the players credited the fan base for helping make it happen, why wouldn’t we want to do everything we can to keep this team winning? Let it hang out, Bills fans. Why NOT us?

About Robyn Mundy

Robyn Mundy is Editor-in-Chief of the BillsMafia blog at BuffaloFAMbase.com. She's a retired oncology nurse & psychotherapist who loves to write about her life-long passion for the Buffalo Bills, and occasionally something of clinical or social relevance. Robyn lives with her husband Gary and their dogs in the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming. Robyn is also a proud founding sponsor. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynMundyWYO.

22 Replies to “Bills Fans For The Win: An Outstanding Home Season Opening Performance”

  1. Pingback: Bills Fans For The Win: An Outstanding Home Season Opening Performance – 716teams.com

  2. I would like to ask anyone who read this article that attended the game to share their game day experience here in the comment section. I’d like to compile Bills fan experiences last Sunday in one place so I can refer to them throughout the season.

    Thank you in advance to anyone willing to share their experience at The Ralph at the home opener.

    Much appreciated,

    Robyn aka/wyo

    • it was 40 yrs to the week that my Uncle took me to my first Bills game,as it happens Miami(we lost) I hadn’t planned to go, but come Wed with the Pegula news out I knew I had to go.I was a hot tearymess

      • Hi Gregg,

        How great is it when we can recall those early memories and enjoy them with each other? I’m glad Mr. Wilson put his foot down when the league wanted to move the Bills to the AFC North division.

        Thanks for sharing your experience. I really enjoy all that you contribute to our timelines on Twitter. Stay in touch!

        Take care,

        Robyn

  3. Sunday was by far the most intense Bills game I’ve ever been in. I just purchased front row endzone season tickets this year and decided to dress up like super mario, be one of them crazy guys. I have never heard the stadium as loud as it was this weekend…I personally am still recovering my voice for next week. The Jim Kelly speech, and the Ralph Wilson tribute actually got my eyes to well up a bit. I can’t wait to return next week, but it’s gonna be hard to match the crowds intensity of the home opener. Let’s keep it going mafia!

    • Hi John,

      Sounds like you had a great time. Love it when people dress up for the game. SuperMario was a great choice! Be sure to take some honey & lemon and rest your voice for the rest of the week.

      Doug Whaley said yesterday that the team needs that same intensity every home game. I’ll look for you in the crowd when they pan the endzone!

      Take care,

      Robyn

  4. Great article as always Robyn. I look forward to reading all of your thoughtfully and inspiring articles. I would change only one of your lines, from “That is what is feeding the soul of the lion!” to “That is what is feeding the soul of the buffalo!”.

    I too listened to the WGR550 feed on my smartphone while watching the game on CBS. The crying towel was out but not for the team’s great performance but because of all of the emotions. Being a die hard Bill’s fan since day 1 and with all of the week’s uplifting news the emotions just poured out.

    Eighteen years ago my wife gave me season tickets for my 50th birthday. What a birthday gift! My birthday is in March so luckily for me I got the tickets early for the 1996 season when Jim Kelly was still playing. The team went 10-6 that year and made the playoffs losing to Jacksonville at Rich Stadium in the first round 30-27. Our drive to the stadium is 4-1/2 hours one way and we made all of the 8 games including the playoff game. We only had season tickets for the one year but would try to make one preseason game in August and take the RV into the camper lot. We would take the grand kids and would have a super time. Lately we’ve haven’t gone to the stadium but watch the games either home on TV or at a sports bar. This year has a different feel to it … Yesterday I was at my computer and was looking at the Bills schedule. On October 12th New England and Brady are coming to the Ralph. I said to myself, “Myself why not try and get tickets”. Well I was able to get two tickets in Club Section 217 between the Jim Kelly Club section and the new Sports Bar. I can’t wait !!! My Bills pride is bursting !!!

    October 12th is going to be a beautiful fall day with all of the hardwood leaves at their peak colors. The Ralph will be sold out and Rocking !!! Pushing 70 we don’t walk as fast or as far as we used to so we just applied for a “handicapped permit”. Planning on taking the car and not the RV and will arrive early to tailgate in Lot 6 ADA. The tailgating won’t be as long as it was in 1996 as we need to get a head start to get to our seats in time for the kickoff.

    Either way way, win or lose, we’ll be yelling our heads off for our beloved Bills team. We’ll have laryngitis for a few days, just like we had in 1996.

    This IS a different year and we’ll be doing our part. GO BILLS !!!

    • Hi Jeff,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. How awesome that you make the pilgrimage to The Ralph. If only I wasn’t nearly 2K away, I’d be joining you!

      Your wife is one rocking lady! You must have been over the moon with that 50th birthday present. My husband and friends made me a life sized coffin (seriously!).

      Please know you will be carrying me with you when you go to the Patriots* game! It will be a glorious day in Western New York. Sure miss those brilliant colors of the WNY autumn.

      Have fun, be safe and most of all GO BILLS!!!

      Take care,

      Robyn

  5. Sunday, the home opener, was the most electric, passion-filled Bills game I have ever been to. Being 24, I only have vague memories of the Super Bowl run in the early 90s. I remember the confusion and anger as a 9 year old Bills fan during the music city miracle. Since that point I lived my teenage years hoping for that one year to turn things around and always wondering what would happen to this team if they didn’t, or if Ralph would pass away from us. Sunday took my 24 years as a bills fan, living in fear, and threw it all into one day of celebration and relief. The Bills look good, Jim is cancer free, Ralph watched from above for the first time, Terry and Kim have assured the Bills future in Buffalo, and the Stadium looked amazing. The new supergates got me into the game quick, and all the employees there that I experienced were happy and helpful to the fans. The noise level at the stadium was like nothing I have ever experienced before at the Ralph. When Jim Kelly was announced before the game, I thought the stadium was going to crumble from the sound waves of 69,000 fans. Jim Kelly stood there and tried to speak, but we wouldn’t let him. The cheers and roars continued for at least a minute or two before he broke down and started his speech, ending with him yelling “squish the fish!” In which the stadium was at it’s loudest point ever. The Bills players clearly fed off this fan emotion and dominated the game from the start. It was the best Sunday of my life and a beginning of many happy Sundays to come. GO BILLS!

    • Hi Adam,

      Thank you for sharing your experience on Sunday. I often think about young people like yourself who were not old enough (or even born) to see what it was like during the Super Bowl years. It’s very heart warming to know that despite the last decade and a half of despair, young Bills fans are sticking with this team.

      I could hear how loud the fans were and wondered what it sounded like in the stadium. Hopefully, it will sound like that for every home game.

      We need fans like yourself to keep the spirit going and never give up. You understand what supporting a losing team year after year is like. Now I hope you get to experience what it’s like to support a team that can consistently win games.

      There was a time in the 90’s when it was unthinkable for the Bills to lose a game. I really hope we get back to feeling that way again this season.

      Thanks again for taking the time to share your experience.

      Take care,

      Robyn

  6. I’m not from Buffalo, but I LOVE the Bills. So much that I flew up for the game yesterday. It was my first time to Buffalo, my first live Bills game after all of these years, and I couldn’t have been more proud an excited!! It was worth flying across the county to witness that!

    • Hi Nicole,

      What a FANTASTIC experience for your first time in Buffalo! It’s people like you that make being a Bills fan a special experience. You are in a special category as a Bills fan.

      Many of us who were born in WNY became fans because it was our local team. We often joke about being BORN into our Bills fan hood.

      There is a special place in heaven for Bills fans who grew up and live elsewhere and have stuck by this team through the playoff drought. You are the antithesis of a bandwagon fan!

      If you didn’t get the chance to explore downtown Buffalo while you were there, next time be sure to take time to do so. Buffalo is experiencing a renaissance like never before.

      I was literally astounded by how the city of Buffalo is rebounding. You MUST see Harborside, Canalside, Larkinville, the Theatre district, the Hotel Lafayette, and I could go on. The city is coming together in a way that I never expected to see during my lifetime.

      Congratulations on attending your first game! What a doozy of a game! You may have to make the pilgrimage again. You are a good luck charm for the Bills!

      Take care,

      Robyn

  7. Just moved back to Buffalo after living in Denver for three years, and one of the big reasons I moved back was cause I missed Sundays at the Ralph. My Colorado Bills Backers Bar (LoDo’s) was amazing, but nothing beats Sundays in Buffalo. I could tell just from tailgating at my spot that I have since high school that the energy was different. My lot (twin oak motel) was more packed than I’ve ever seen it. The energy in the Ralph was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I’m 26 years old and didn’t start going to games till 2001 so it was by far the loudest I’ve ever experienced. You could feel the energy in the crowd being fed to the players and them feeding off it. On the way home, I was mentioning to my friends how that was the first time in a long time that everyone knew in that stadium that we would win big. Mentally, I feel like our collective attitude has changed. I know when I moved back here, I felt like I moved back to a new city. Our usual attitude that our city was decaying and there was not a bright future is gone. Downtown is starting to come alive again, people are starting to move back and our whole thought process on everything has changed and that is flowing to our psyche about our Bills.

    I’ve got seasons, and cannot wait for Sunday vs. the chargers. Let’s bring the noise and make this another memorable mark in our march back to prominence. GO BILLS!!!!

    • Hi Peter,

      WOW… thanks for sharing your experience. I wonder if I may have crossed paths with you at some point. I have been to LoDo’s several times when the Bills have played in Denver (as they are again in Dec :).

      Haha… I’m sure you were sick of Bronco “Orange Crush” shoved down your throat when you lived in Denver. The horseheads (as I like to call them) are THE dominant team in all the Rocky Mountain states, and Wyoming is definitely Bronco country.

      There is definitely a different vibe going on now in WNY. The area is rebounding and drawing back young people like yourself. That warms my heart to know that people are returning to live in the area. I’m too old and roots too deep in the ground to ever leave Wyoming, but my heart will always have a special place exclusively reserved for WNY.

      Thanks for commenting. Be kind to your voice for the rest of the week so you can be as loud as last Sunday. GO BILLS!!!

      Hope to shake your hand someday when I make it back again. Best wishes for a successful career and life back in the 716.

      Take care,

      Robyn

  8. Sunday was a bittersweet day for us as one of our tailgating friends had passed away just a few days before the season opener. We knew the day would be big but we did not know just how it would proceed.

    We left Burlington, Ontario at 5:45AM and headed for the border. The highway was quiet and so was the Duty Free. We figured a lot of people had to already be in Buffalo. We arrived at Hammer’s lot at 7:00AM. It was filling quickly. We barely made it to our reserved spot up against the hill and a few spots over from the pinto. We had requested that the spot next to us (Dack’s spot) be left empty in remembrance of a tailgating friend who left us too soon.

    It’s funny how a we all felt so sad about a guy from NY state who lived 4 hours away from us. We never met him anywhere else but Bills tailgates. I often here the term ‘Bills Family’ but on Sunday I realized that’s exactly what we are. One big family. We were blown away to pull up to our spot and see RIP DACK spelled out in rocks on the hill in front of Dack’s regular parking spot. The spot was blocked off and would remain empty for the entire day. The national media likes to play off of the idea of drunken disrespectful Bills fans yet for the entire day the memorial was respected. That says a lot Seeing as we’re near by the ketchup ceremony. Huge respect to the people who created that memorial sometime Saturday?

    The atmosphere at the tailgate was amazing. The Hammer lot was full by about 8AM. Several of the residential parking areas were already full with RVs when we pulled in. I’ve never seen that in 11 years as a season ticket holder.

    Inside the stadium the Ralph was electric. The closest thing I could compare it to would be the Dallas Monday night game or the victory over New England to end the losing streak, but this was different. The energy in the stadium was constant. The defense was being helped out on just about every down. The roars for big plays were explosive but they continued on as waves of sound, falling and rising over and over. I’ve not heard that sound many times before.

    In the last few seasons our section had all but given up on cheering for the defense when they were at the opposite end of the stadium, but not this Sunday. The defense was cheered for whether they were right in front of us or way down the other end. So all in all I have to say that I heard sounds I’ve never heard before at the Ralph on Sunday. The crowd was electric and I feel re-energized as a Bill’s fan.

    On the way out of the stadium I talked to one of my buddies who has had tickets for over 22 years. He said that was the best Bills crowd he could remember for quite a long time. Then he said “Believe it or not it gets way louder for a playoff game”. I look forward to that experience some day.

  9. Just sharing this because it’s an extremely crazy experience at the Bills game this past weekend. You will all get a laugh out of this, some May even be disappointed. But, my friend and I were so excited for the bills game we couldn’t sleep, we had stayed up until 3am baking cupcakes and cookies for our tail party. Then our bus was leaving at 8:30 so we woke up at 7 to get ready… Got on the bus, left, parked, tail gated. Kicked back a few beers, roasted some hot dogs. You get the point… Walked into the game… And I fell asleep. The whole entire game. In my friends lap. She couldn’t wake me up. I woke up thinking, gee I didn’t drink that much why don’t I remember the game? Come to find out I slept through the entire game!!! I am so mad at myself. Was walking around all day Monday just so baffled as to how that even happened.

    • Hi Cassondra,

      OMG! How in the world could you sleep through all that noise? Hahaha… that is a great story!!!! I hope you recorded the game on your DVR so you can see what you missed!

      I was up at 1 AM and could not go back to sleep before the game. After the game was over, I was waaaaaaay too jazzed up to go to sleep. It wasn’t until last night (Tues) that I actually got a full night’s sleep.

      Do you have season tickets? I hope that’s the case so you can be loud and proud against the Chargers on Sunday.

      Thanks for sharing your experience, even if you don’t remember much about it :)

      Take care,

      Robyn

  10. Pingback: Bills Fans For The Win: An Outstanding Home Season Opening Performance – My Buffalo Sports

  11. Hi Dave,

    First off, I’m so very sorry to read about the loss of a great Bills fan. Some of us are at the age where we HOPE to live long enough to see the Bills hoist a Lombardi (myself included). Lifelong friendships are made by our communal love and mutual suffering over the challenges we have faced over the years as Bills fans.

    As far as the national media, it seems to be all about whatever creates hype. Sometimes I think guys like Omar Kelly purposefully rag on Bills fans and Western New York to increase his clicks and create controversy. Controversy sells, and it’s all about the $$…

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I wondered how this crowd compared to a playoff crowd. My memory isn’t that good anymore, lol.

    However, #ItEndsAt14. GO BILLS!!!!

    Take care,

    Robyn

  12. Great day…fantastic vibe…fun to watch Fish fans leaving early. People were buying Bills gear like the Super Bowl days…” oh no I didn’t : ) “

    • Hi Chris,

      LOL, I usually bring a half-empty bag when I go back to Buffalo because I know it will be stuffed to the max with (mostly) Bills stuff when I go home.

      So the Dolly fans left early? Wow, that’s a shock (not). I went to see the Bills play in Miami a few years ago and was appalled at their fan base. The stadium was only about 1/3 full, and a large % of the fans there were BILLS fans.

      When I went to the Jets game last year at The Ralph, there was a loud guy sitting a couple of rows away that was obnoxious through the entire game. When Da’Norris Searcy got his pick six that day, he was heckled out of the stadium, lol. It was a thing of beauty to watch.

      Thanks for your commentary. I hope The Ralph is as loud this upcoming Sunday vs. the Chargers. GO BILLS!

      Take care,

      Robyn

  13. Great article, thanks for taking the time.

    From Toronto, former Season Ticket Holder, now I come down for several games a year. I was happy to be able to bring my 11 year old sister to her first Bills game and she had a great time. Amazing game and experience. A good win against a division opponent was a great way to begin a Buffalo Bills experience. The crowd was electric and excited and I don’t think I’ve been quite as jacked up as I was watching Spiller’s return touchdown.

    I just have one issue regarding the new stadium renovations: the “Supergates.” The line was beyond bad (and we walked past the main gate to one with a line half as long), spent at least half an hour in a line, standing not moving, that in previous seasons takes 5-10 minutes tops, but at least the line moves. Furthermore serious NFL stadium policy amendments weren’t obviously signed. Had to discard a good bag and was held up at the search for several minutes. Ladies were being told to toss their purses, seriously? I don’t see how this increases efficiency. Compounding that, in seasons past one could circumnavigate the stadium at it’s lower side (where all the media vehicles park) but now the extended perimeter requires one to gain entry in a ridiculous line nowhere near your section.

    Rather unpleasant entrance but fortunately wiped away by a great time otherwise. :)

    Hopefully we can turn this one around on the bolts!