No Fans Allowed, Buffalo Bills Fanatics Only Please

Heather CrowleyContributor IMay 15, 2009

DENVER - DECEMBER 21:  Quarterback Trent Edwards #5 of the Buffalo Bills rolls out and looks for a receiver against the Denver Broncos during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on December 21, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The Bills defeated the Broncos 30-23.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Born in Rochester, NY rooting for the Buffalo Bills wasn't an option, it was a way of life.

In the local Wegman's grocery store, Bills beer bottles were placed into offensive and defensive formations while cakes were emblazoned with the Buffalo logo. 

Sure, the Sabres were a nice touch, but the Bills were what we lived for.

My earliest memory of the Bills has little to do with the actual team. At close to three years old I remember my older sister and I begging my parents to let me stay up to watch this mystical event called the Super Bowl I kept hearing so much about. A few people in town had even been outcasted when rumors came around they were cheering for some team called the New York Giants.

I didn't necessarily care about the game of football; I just wanted to stay up with my sister and all the adults over for the party. But Mom insisted it was bedtime after what I think was a quarter and ever since that moment I was hooked. 

The next morning I ran downstairs and inquired if the Bills had won the Super Bowl, but mother broke the news to me. For some reason I went unfazed and received a shiny Super Bowl pin that said Tampa Bay and some numerals I couldn't read.

It is still on my backpack to this day.

Every Sunday the same ritual persisted for years.  Play outside (snow or not), fix a warm lunch and settle in for Bills football.  Most kids have reserved places in their memory for ballet recitals and their sister's birthdays, but not me. Football lives in my mushy gray matter.

It was January 8, 2000 and everyone on earth was still happy Y2K didn't kill off humanity yet.  I knew we would survive the catastrophe of the new millennium because I needed to be there for the Bills when they took on the Tennessee Titans. 

No way this new silly expansion team with a corny logo could take down my Bills.

I was sitting in my family room close enough to the television to receive a warning from my mother I drowned out the rest of the world.  The game was far from a dominating performance but this was it. My Bills were back in the playoffs for the first time in what seemed to me like forever.  There they stood in those hideous white uniforms clinging on to a one point lead Steve Christie just made possible. 16-15 Buffalo. That's all she wrote.

Until Hell froze over.

As the Bills kicked off I knew that the Titans had no chance. I felt bad for the player on the receiving end. Sure, they had a magical season, but the Bills simply outlasted the Titans.  To say Rob Johnson and friends played poorly that day was an understatement, but I was proud of my team for gutting it out in a hostile road environment.  The Titans would be beaten.

Three Titans and 75-yards later, I sat dumbfounded.

There I sat, hooting at the officials that no possible sane person could call that a touchdown. There was no excuse for allowing a man to go the distance in such a dire situation as the one the Bills were facing.  But as they deliberated the call, I knew it was about to fall out of our favor not matter how many times I tried to convince myself it would be ok.

Touchdown.

Kevin Dyson was a hero. Air McNair continued the dream season.

Nearly 10 years after that moment people still ask me why I still root for the Bills, how I put up will all the heartache, and why I don't just quit on the team.

The one thing I admire most about Buffalo fans is that fandom is forever.

Call us stupid, naive or dedicated.  In reality, the fans love football and their team probably more than any human being should. It becomes part of our identity, the butt of every other NFL teams' jokes and surely a team everyone thinks they will beat.

We sit out in the freezing cold only to get kicked in the gut three hours later. 

But it reflects the tough, gritty attitude of all of Western New York. Don't go down without a fight and believe until the end, sometimes ever after.

Maybe we all belong in a mental institution, but that's just fine with me.

Ron Jaworski put it best: We believe we are jinxed. We believe we will never win a championship. Yet we believe.



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