Every once in awhile we read about someone who won the lottery and then faces a serious challenge coping with their sudden change in fortune. Although it sounds like a dream to most of us, instant wealth, celebrity, or success can bring with it a great deal of unexpected attention, and other unintended consequences.
What would the BillsMafia know about basking in the glory of such a thing as success and good fortune? Undeniably albeit arguably, we understand ‘loser’ behavior better than any other fan base in sports. ‘Loser’ has been repeatedly imprinted in our DNA.
We are masters in the art of coping with failure. We have wallowed in our stark existence, living far away from a world full of shiny trophies for nearly two decades. Success has been fleeting for Bills fans over the last 55 years.
So, after reading my Twitter timeline for the last few months, I’ve come to the conclusion that Bills fans are experiencing their own version of “failure to thrive”. Analysts are now making bold predictions about the Bills winning anything from the division to going deep into the playoffs.
How do we respond? We are like Punxsutawney Phil crawling out of his hole after the worst winter in history. All of the glare from the media about the Bills has blinded us. The mere thought of making the playoffs has us walking around with no idea how to respond.
I’ve wondered for awhile what it would be like on social media when the Bills started becoming relevant to the rest of the NFL. Well, it’s barely started and some Bills fans are clearly not emotionally prepared for the possibility of success.
My best guesstimate is that the last bandwagon fan jumped off the Bills wagon somewhere around the time Bledsoe blew out of town. So that means we have been living in cold storage as a fan base for about a decade now.
Cue in the Pegula era, along with a string of free agents and the “Rex Effect”. Suddenly the Bills have become the darling of the media with accolades are pouring in from all over the country. Friends that live in far flung places start calling and mentioning that the Bills are all the talk on national sports shows. The buzz is all about Buffalo.
How in the world are we supposed to cope with this alien concept of being expected to win? We KNOW losing. We’ve lived and breathed losing. So what can Bills fans do to cope with all the attention being thrown our team’s way?
Here are some basic “do and don’ts” to consider as we move through the first football season (in what seems like forever) with a team suddenly thrust into the national spotlight. Don’t let yourself become “paranoid Rob Lowe” and miss this golden opportunity to shine in the spotlight with our team. Precious moments are fleeting
1. Prepare yourself to be shocked by the media when they say nice things about the Bills and WNY in general. It’s rarely a good idea to respond like this (see picture) when Rich Eisen mentions anything other than how bad the weather is in WNY, let alone the Buffalo Bills.
2. Act like you’ve been there before, even if you are feeling nervous. Never let them see you sweat!
3. Get your theme song going and update when necessary. It wouldn’t be ‘wyobabble’ if I didn’t mention the importance of getting your theme song right. If you are unfamiliar with my twisted view of music therapy, check out my previous posts on the subject on this web site.
Now, on to the theme song. When is a theme song the right one for you? It’s right when it makes you feel like running on a beach when someone mentions the Bills. The words and music should make you feel like dancing in the streets.
This week my theme song has been “Stop Children What’s That Sound” by Buffalo Springfield. This was such an aptly named band when I was coming of age during the late 60s. Now getting ready to enter my sixties, it has a whole new meaning. A Buffalo Bills meaning. Turn it up and think about the upcoming football season.
Be sure to soak up every moment of exhilaration and even failure along the way. When you reflect back on this moment in time, you want to be able to retrieve every memory created along the way, good or bad.
Don’t be rude to bandwagon fans, they come with the territory. We saw this during the Bills Super Bowl years when Thurman Thomas jerseys were suddenly seen all over the country on a regular basis. One doesn’t see many Buffalo Bills jerseys in Wyoming these days, but that may be about to change.
Don’t stalk other team message boards or other social media sites with trash talking before games. Revenge is best served up as a side dish, not the main course. In fact, serving it for dessert may be the most satisfying choice.
And most of all, DO NOT let your fear and/or paranoia interfere with your ability to enjoy rising out of the ashes as football fans. It’s about time we storm back to the top of the heap in terms of NFL fan bases.
Furthermore, ditch the “we should just be grateful to make the playoffs” mantra. It’s like there is some unwritten rule that says because you haven’t been to the playoffs for 15 years that you don’t deserve to think about winning it all the first time back at the dance.
It’s as if some think that by setting their expectations low enough, they won’t be disappointed when the Bills “inevitably” lose. Again. We need to stop that way of thinking. The “we can’t catch a break” mantra is dangerous and robs us of the capacity for experiencing joy.
It is only in retrospect that we can identify a singular turning point in the fortune and follies of a football team. Don’t wait too long to let yourself believe anything is possible, or you will risk being the real loser in the end.
Go Bills. Win that Super Bowl this year and shock the world.