Sometimes the most powerful messages in life come from unexpected places/people. That happened this week for me while listening to a recent interview with Chris Mortensen on the @JohnMurphyShow. If you want to ride along for some wyobabble, take a listen;
One of the many things I admire about John Murphy is his knack for making his guests feel at ease. His style is unique in our narcissistic world today. ‘Murph’ carefully crafts his interviews to make sure they are about the guest, not about a reporter trying to make a name for themselves. John Murphy is growing nicely into his role as our play-by-play guy for the Buffalo Bills. Tough shoes to fill after Van Miller retired in 2003, and he’s done a remarkable job in creating his own signature style.
So when John interviewed Chris Mortensen and asked him if he was surprised by the fact that the Buffalo Bills managed to secure their future in Western New York (WNY), I found his answer was quite interesting. The reason the question came up is that John mentioned the new stadium proposal in the Los Angeles area that could house both the Raiders and the Chargers.
John asked Chris if he was surprised at how the situation played out in WNY regarding the sale of the team to the Pegulas after the death of Mr. Wilson last March. It was the tone of Chris’ response that raised my eyebrow. ‘Mort’ inferred a sense of awareness regarding how the unique fan base of the Buffalo Bills made it possible for the franchise to remain in WNY for generations to come. That, and a billionaire fan and his family with a passion for all things “OneBuffalo”.
Murphy captured the moment beautifully, and reflected jokingly about a native WNY tendency for spewing self-deprecating humor regarding life in the region. It’s what I refer to as our “Sally Field mentality”. We sometimes find it incredulous when people from outside the region say nice things about us.
This is how bad it is (or good depending on your viewpoint). I recently was in the dental chair listening to my hygienist talk about her recent trip to the west coast of Florida. She said she noticed many people walking around in Buffalo Bills gear. It surprised her because she was struck by the number of Bills fans in Florida.
However, the one thing she said (that made me almost choke while getting my teeth cleaned), was that the very first thing that popped in her head when she saw someone in Bills gear was me. Haha, I literally had to stop her for a moment.
I asked her why she thought of me, other than the fact that I’m probably only one of a handful of Bills fans living in Wyoming. She said it was because of the type of fan she thinks I am in comparison to the mostly Broncos fans who live in the region.
Hmm. Never felt I was any different than any other fan of professional football, so it got me thinking about how people on the “outside” perceive Bills fans. I pressed on, despite the scraping sound going on inside my mouth. So when I got home, I decided to query my husband, who has survived living with a Bills fan for nearly 30 years. He knows more than anyone how Bills fans appear to the “outside world”.
He said that every Bills fan he ever met or spoke with on the phone is just as crazy passionate about the team as I am. Of course, he immediately brought up the first time he watched the movie “Buffalo 66” with me.
He laughed so hard when Vincent Gallo’s mother in the movie started complaining about missing a Bills game because she had to give birth. It put it all in perspective for him right there. For anyone reading this that may not have seen the movie, it is required viewing for anyone from the “outside world” trying to live with someone from WNY.
Check out the tease trailer.
It’s evident that our fan-hood is inexplicably enmeshed with the logo of the Buffalo Bills to the outside world for a reason. Apparently the fact that so many people could be obsessed with a professional football team that hasn’t sniffed the playoffs for 15 years makes us the equivalent of Big Foot in terms of curiosity by ‘outsiders’.
So be it. The term ‘loyal’ doesn’t even begin to describe the legacy of what it means to be a Bills fan. As our franchise enters it’s “next phase” as the Pegulas begin to place their brand on our legacy, we can all smile. Judging from the acquisition of Rex Ryan as head coach, we are in for a fun ride.