When I was a young kid I was a Dolphins and 49ers fan because that’s what you do when your dad is kind of a butthole about football and because Steve Young was awesome. Around eighth or ninth grade I started watching and rooting for the Bills consistently, which was in 1999 or 2000 so you can probably blame me for this current run of shit.
I was super into football as a kid; I would memorize the entire schedule early in the morning so I could slog through boring church services arranging teams and picking games. Every Sunday when I was done watching I was usually out playing, with neighborhood kids in Rochester and my single neighbor out in the country near Syracuse. I was called Rocket as a young kid, and later White Chocolate in college (I’ll let you figure that one out) and I was always that scrawny unassuming kid picked in the middle rounds who’d light it up when people figured out I could actually play.
When I went to college and had free division 1 hockey dropped in my lap, along with the Sabres 2005-2007 runs, football took a back seat and as the Bills hired Dick Fucking Jauron which literally everyone knew would be a disaster before he was even brought on and as NFL rules became increasingly more arbitrary and as NFL games became longer and more commercial-laden, football dropped away.
The Bills, and really the NFL, are things we find objectively loathsome but can’t seem to give up. And it’s not blind devotion and it’s not foolish hope, it’s the bonds we’ve built watching and often hating this stupid team playing this stupid sport in this stupid league.
Bills fans have become their own category on Deadspin and instead of shame or juvenile amusement, the clips of Pinto Ron and the photos of hairy butts and drunken shenanigans only make me nostalgic. Pinto Ron is right when he calls Bills games a whole-day experience and it’s not even just the tailgating or the drinking.
It’s meeting Bills fans and exchanging high fives at every single rest area you stop at along I-90 as your feelings about this game, whether they win or lose, simply grow better and better.
It’s driving bumper to bumper down Big Tree Road looking for that one dude or lady parking cars in their yard for $8 instead of $10 and undercutting their neighbors. It’s laughing at the absurdity of twenty cars in the half acre of some two bedroom ranch and maybe sharing a drink with the host before you trudge down the road to the stadium.
It’s finding out that your dad is old friends with the guy who owns the huge vacant lots next to the stadium and holy shit we can just have this guy reserve a spot for us. It is joining in on the tailgating and the drunken shenanigans and pissing on the pitiful line of trees with thirty other people along the side of the parking lot because that’s more enjoyable than any stadium bathroom will ever be.
It’s heading to the bar after the game for some wings since traffic is going to be fucked, especially when you have to drive back to Syracuse and literally every other asshole doing so is going to stop at the first rest area which is incomprehensibly thirty minutes outside of Buffalo. It’s getting home at 11 for an NFL game that you left for at 8 and that ended at 4 and considering it time well spent.
Those Deadspin posts are about the absurdity of Bills fans when they should really be about the fact that we’ve figured out what a lot of fans haven’t. Sports should be fun and even with this team, THIS TEAM, we can still manage it on gameday. We’ve figured out that sports should work for us and not the other way around and that if they’re not going to by way of the team being good, then we’re going to take matters into our own hands and cover an old man in mustard and ketchup. I figure this is about on par with eating the body and drinking the blood of some long dead middle-easterner.
Which brings me to this Bills team and as far as opinions go, it’s hard to top anything coming out of here, but I’ll try. I, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, like this Bills team more than any team since the ones headed by the dude drafted in the first round that no one liked that could only throw one type of pass well who was known by his initials. (I’ll clarify: JP, not EJ.) Some of this is admittedly because the Sabres have sucked balls for the past three(+) years and I finally got sick of it, and some of it is because everyone that’s not involved in the hockey operations of that team is a complete fucking idiot, and more of it is because the teams’ social media has somehow figured out how to take complete blandness and shove it in your face. Which sucks because the players are actually pretty interesting now, and the GM is one of the most entertaining people in hockey. Tim Murray is the anti-CK because CK cares so much about how he comes off and Murray does not care at all. CK is Ross and Murray is Chandler. CK is JD and Murray is Dr. Cox.
But I’m getting off topic here.
I think I like this team because Dick Jauron and Chan Gailey and Doug Marrone killed my spirit and lowered my expectations so much for the head coaching position and ditto for Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and EJ Manuel for quarterback. Tyrod Taylor is good at more things than the other guys and while he does have some limitations, so does everyone else not named Aaron Rodgers. And with the host of playmakers on the roster there is at least a slightly larger chance of fun things happening this year than their was in years past.
I like it because all the SJW stuff exhausts even me and yes the NFL is a mess and yes the Bills have an alleged domestic abuser in Karlos Williams and an alleged rape witness / contributor in Ron Darby and the way past alleged whatever the fuck Richie Incognito is and sometimes I just want to enjoy a little cheap fun from a thing that I can easily detach from when it stops being fun.
Well this got depressing in a hurry.
I like this Bills team because I live in Washington and may never go to a Bills game again and while moving was a decision awesome beyond words, I still like having that connection to the city that virtually every member of my immediate family calls their birthplace, including myself. And I like the tailgate posts because god and airfare price willing, I would be there because why not, and while I might not be getting wasted or slathered in condiments you can damn sure bet I’d be egging them on, or perhaps holding a bottle of mustard myself.
I’ll never live and die on wins and losses again because that’s a miserable sports existence, but I will shit talk endlessly knowing that the extensive failures of the Bills and Sabres have made me bulletproof to hurt, and if the Bills by some miracle ever do win a Super Bowl, I will definitely act like no one else has ever won a championship in the history of the sport and make everyone hate me. It’s the least I can do.