Fellow Buffalo Bills fans… come hither from all places dark and not that distant in our past. Let us share our ‘scar tissue stories’ and feel the emotional letdown by a team we hoped would fare much better than reality actually dictated.
The gigantic SIGH felt ’round the world’ was actually much bigger than just another loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
The 24-18 defeat of the Bills on Sunday by Cincinnati created an enormous exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide collectively as the clock ticked down to 0:00. There it was.
Our misery on display for all the world to see.
The layers of despair depend on your age. Old farts like myself have more layers of mummification than King Tut… and we are a living testimony for inviting the worst kind of stress we can impose on a human cardiovascular system. If the palpitations don’t get you, a good run of ‘V tach’ should get the job done.
[It would be interesting to know how many stress induced heart attacks happen in WNY after the Bills lay yet another unfertilized egg on their scarred-for-life fan base].
Which leads me to the place I always end up when yet another dream of seeing the Buffalo Bills hoist a Lombardi Trophy blows up in our faces.
The echo of “here we go again” becomes louder than the tinnitus we suffer from our lifelong habit of cussing out the Bills. We’ve heard it all before. We know where things go from here. We don’t need to be told “it’s down to execution” or that the team didn’t play “complementary football”.
We learned decades ago that platitudes aren’t going to cut it with our fan base. We’ve already been served every flavor of platitude that exists in the world of NFL Football. So what are we to do when YET AGAIN we find ourselves in emotional despair over the latest iteration of the Buffalo Bills?
Clients I worked with over the years found it helpful to examine WHY something/someone might represent far too much importance in our lives than we should place upon it. The easy response for fans born in Buffalo and WNY is that we were born with this affliction… as evidenced by the popularity of Vincent Gallo’s movie Buffalo ’66.
Gallo talked about growing up in Buffalo and what it was like to feel the deep connection many of us have as native WNYers and passionate Bills fans. Buffalo ’66 explains a LOT for people who did not grow up there about why we are a different breed of cat.
It’s common knowledge now that our fan base is more than a little off the rails. Which brings me to the point of this entire discussion. One of the main reasons we are so different than other fan bases in sports is because we are a novelty to outsiders. Outsiders have no way of understanding the unique relationship this fan base has with each other.
And that’s precisely what might heal our scarred hearts.
One of the reasons ‘outsiders’ find us endearing is how loyal we are and how we persevere as fans despite repeated fatal blows to our hearts.
It’s a precious thing we must not lose or we will lose our integrity as a unique fan base.
Let’s not forget the entire experience of tailgating was taken to a new level by Bills fans… as evidenced every time there is a home game in town. Food, beer and the ability to laugh at ourselves about our crazy need for the Buffalo Bills to win a championship is our collective identity.
We learned about and celebrated each other during losing season after losing season… followed by a middling season or two thrown in for good measure. This has been our reality for six decades.
My point is we might benefit from our shared misery.
Thankfully only a few know how to deal with watching their teams lose (in any sport) repeatedly… and often in the cruelest of fashion. Fans of sports in Buffalo have more experience dealing with underperforming players, coaches and staff than arguably any other fan base in sports.
So the time has come to dust off the scar tissue and apply a moisturizer in the form of what we refer to in psychobabble as a “paradigm shift”.
For over two decades I’ve written extensively either for the Buffalo Bills Message Board and/or through this blog about the resilience our fan base displayed by finding joy in each other (tailgating, etc) instead of whatever nonsense the Bills are up to at any given moment in franchise history.
Social media has a powerful effect on how we behave as Bills fans. Fake names, avatars and other ways to depersonalize ourselves creates an opportunity for negativity to prevail. My one cent opinion about how to cope with loving a team that just doesn’t love us back the same way is to focus on the incredible experiences we have being with one another … and trying to promote acts of kindness toward one another as a result.
We could rise above other fan bases by being role models for how to cope with the inevitable disappointment seemingly hanging over us like a shroud. The true meaning of fellowship doesn’t necessarily focus on the outcome of an NFL game.
We know all this stuff about ‘lovable losers’ and how quaint we appear to outsiders. New England Patriots* fans terrorized us with relentless assaults to our heart by Tom Brady for two decades… while Buffalo’s barely had a chance to polish its crown on the AFC East for the last three years. Unrelenting punishment as a fan has a way of twisting your mind around if you let it.
I’ve circled back to this same place many times over six decades as a Bills fan. When the pain of losing becomes so pronounced, we seek to discharge these unpleasant feelings in what is often an unhealthy manner.
We know the pathway out of this misery we’re feeling today about what is shaping up to be another disappointing season for Buffalo Bills fans. The pathway out is the same as its always been… learning to appreciate the joy of being together with food and for some of us, beer. The experience of hanging out together with very little hope for a flailing team is a familiar feeling. We’ve been here before, many times.
It’s up to us now to carry on our tradition of being leaders as a fan base. For example, 26shirts.com is a gift that keeps on giving. It was born of the best of our fan base and flourishes in spite of how the Buffalo Bills perform. Kudos to the Bills for finally recognizing an inspiring leader among us in honoring Del Reid as Buffalo Bills Fan of the Year.
Leading by example might include finding a way to keep social media from turning into a cesspool after any loss by the Buffalo Bills. We have the ability to do so by refusing to fall into a downward spiral of negativity. We can choose to take a moment to be kind to one another instead. Take one moment to infuse your social media account with something pleasant like @BruceExclusive does posting pictures of dogs on Xwitter after a loss by the Bills.
Choose to reflect healthy respect for one another, regardless if you think someone on social media is an ‘idiot’ for whatever take they have regarding the Buffalo Bills. In the grand scheme of life, it’s sometimes prudent to take the high road and ‘Let It Be’… as the Beatles’ ode continues to remain a solid message for life.
Bottom line Bills fans… act like you’ve been here before. Because you have.
Editor’s babble: I will sing this song until I take my last breath. Learn from the collective pain we experience. You can find this and more of my blabber on Xwitter @RobynMundyWYO. Blame me and only me for the dubious statements made by this fossilized Bills fan. Have a pleasant day.