It’s ‘Take Two’ time on a quiet Sunday morning in northern Wyoming leading up to the showdown between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills. I’m usually filled with trepidation on a playoff Sunday, but this season is different.
This season is way different.
After many reminders of the tragic events wrought by the city of Buffalo and its international fan base when Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the football field in front of his teammates and the rest of the world on January 2, I’m still raw. I cringe when I see any player injured on the field of play in a way new to me after watching AFL/NFL football for 60+ years.
Whether or not the Bills defeat the Bengals on this day brings with it a lot more complicated emotions than playoff games in the past. For one, at my age the trips through the playoffs become more important when you’re reminded about the fact that the number of future trips you may be around to see are becoming increasingly limited.
Another complicated set of emotions this fan is experiencing is cutting through the scar tissue to allow myself to feel joyful before the game actually happens. Because we all know what it feels like when Buffalo loses a playoff game, and for some of us the pain of four Super Bowl losses still resides in the corner of our respective cerebrums.
Cutting through all the hype is another challenge we have to navigate. There’s so much bilious hyperbole burped out about the Buffalo Bills players, coaches, analytics and ‘click bait’ opinions a fan can easily lose themselves emotionally before kickoff even happens. If that’s not enough there are blabbermouths like me yapping on podcasts like we are Miss Cleo out there giving our best pitch.
Despite all the perilous places we can put our emotions, on this day I choose to go on record and state without hesitation that win or lose, this fan base will remain resilient yet forever changed by the events on January 2 in Cincinnati. There’s a piece of each of us left on that field on that day.
That part of us, no matter our age or life experience will hold the memory of that day forever in our hearts. How we frame it moving forward can be a template for healing for others who have experienced other traumas in their lives. We can and will move forward, but we can also take with us the knowledge that life is precious and so much more important than a football game.
Editor’s babble: No disclaimer here. I hope the Bills kick Cincy right in the hind end. But for so many different reasons this season feels different, win or lose. You can find me blabbing more psychobabble on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO. That stated, GO BILLS!
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1 thought on “Bills Fans Can Turn Trauma into Wisdom, Win or Lose”
Writing this as a Bengals fan from Cincinnati, I have to give all due respect to the Buffalo Bills for the leadup to the game on Sunday. The Bills were a team that I was scared to see Cincinnati play. Buffalo has a GREAT team, and I know how painful it can be when your team loses (Believe me! I’m a Bengals fan!!). But the Bills, their fans in the Bills Mafia should be proud of a good season and making it to the second round of the playoffs. And I have to thank Buffalo for such a great and suspenseful game! It was one of the best games I’ve ever watched from a Bengals fan’s perspective, and there was a lot of anxiety in the second half, especially because I KNOW that the Bills are a VERY capable team and could take back the lead and win! So you all should be proud of your team and all they achieved this year!!
I also realize that the emotions on Buffalo’s side were on a whole other level, especially given the events of Damar Hamlin’s collapse the last time the Bills and Bengals met. I was watching that game, and please know that my heart went out to him and to every person on the Bills team and staff, and to all the fans who love him! I am so thankful that he is recovering and I hope he is back to 110% for next season! He was certainly in my prayers. I know that a lot of emotion was riding on this game for Buffalo, but also for many of us on the other side. It’s hard to watch a game when you know what team you want to win, but you really want both teams to play their hardest and win. And I hope that the Bengals won for Damar just as much as the Bills would have won for him too.
In closing, I just want to say that I’ve seen so much respect has been exchanged between the Bengals and Bills these last few weeks!! I’ve seen so many uplifting comments on social media in the interactions between the teams and the fans, that it has been a truly inspiring time, especially hearing the news of Damar’s continued recovery. I just can’t say it enough. The Bills have really earned my respect, and I’ll definitely be rooting for you guys next season, unless you’re playing the Bengals!
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