If there is anyone who understands the pain this franchise has caused in my life, it is me. I grew up loving this team in the late mid-’80s and soon enough they became one of the best franchises in the NFL. The Buffalo Bills again became the “Joke” after making a historic four straight Super Bowls and losing them all. Again, I had to hear all the negative from not just other team fans but ours as well. After that, we were up and down until the late 90s when we went through a decent stretch with Doug Flutie as our quarterback. The year was 1999, the same year I had graduated high school. I didn’t know this would be the last year I would ever see the Bills making the playoffs for a very long time.
Ironically that last playoff game in 1999 was against the Tennessee Titans as well. Tuesday we were outplayed by the Titans, another undefeated team this year, and last year’s AFC Championship participant. After the game, I heard Bills Mafia jumping off of the wagon that we hold so dear.
I heard things like Sean McDermott should be fired, Josh Allen was bad, cut Jerry Hughes, cut Josh Norman, and so on. I was never turned off so much since the then so-called 1999 playoff game against the Titans. Look, for 18 years I watched the mediocrity, disappointments, below average Bills teams where I would end up saying “There is always next year”. No matter what the record was in those 18 years, I never jumped off the wagon. I battled through every mockery and joke about the Bills.
As I mentioned on Twitter, give me credit for being a loyal fan because I never went off the wagon even when people would have understood why I changed teams. They all felt sorry for me. I always told them that here in Edmonton, we have a saying that our hockey franchise goes by “Once an Oiler, always an Oiler.” I tell them that the Bills are my team no matter what: “Once a Bill, always a Bill.” I would tell them that franchises go through cycles of winning and making playoffs consistently and that so much has to fall in place. People forget that in Bills’ glory days, it was those same Patriot fans that were the mockery and joke of the NFL. It all works in cycles.
The falling into place all started in 2018 when the Buffalo Bills brought in two people that would change this franchise for the future. Sean McDermott and Brendon Beane came into the Bills organization to change what the world thought of Buffalo and what this franchise was going to be. Especially in McDermott, the same McDermott that so many want to fire because of one loss. This guy, McDermott, has taken our team to the playoffs two out of the three years he has been coaching. If you think of how many coaches we have gone through in 18 years and this guy makes it in his first year of the process, I think you have a better coach than you think.
For fans that missed being in the playoffs for 18 years, this guy came in changed the culture and expectations of the franchise, which led to ending the longest playoff drought in sports. Every coach gets outcoached sometime or another. It happens, but here is McDermott who has us 4-1, and still one of the better teams in the AFC. The players he has here and has brought over the years are players that live and breathe the culture. You see the coaches trust the players and vice versa. The one thing that you can see in the franchise is the players out there playing for each other. During the game, the camera went to the sidelines, and what I saw was this team becoming a TEAM. Josh Allen was walking down the sideline shaking every Bills player’s hands. That to me shows what this coaching staff has been doing all along. McDermott wants these players accountable to each other. Every player on that Bills team thinks it is their fault they lost the game. That is a team, a team out there playing for each other. That is what McDermott brings every day to this franchise that lacked for years.
Some of us forget that McDermott has only been a head coach for three years. He has been a defensive coordinator before, but head coaching is different. He is learning and growing as he goes, no different than Josh Allen. Josh Allen was brought on not just because of his skill set, but I see McDermott a lot in Josh. He is accountable when something goes wrong. He is there making sure no one is losing hope. He is a motivator, a leader. Josh Allen is in his third year of being an NFL quarterback, and all he has shown is progress in all three years. How many of us expected him to have numbers as he has right now? Maybe Our own Pierre did, but the majority didn’t. After the Titans game, Josh Allen responded to criticism by saying, “I can’t do that to our defense – put them in vulnerable situations.” Emphasis on the words “I Can’t.” That shows me why we drafted him, a born leader. Allen will get better; the team will get better. Baby steps along the way, 18 years of nothing, and we already complaining when we have been in the playoffs more in three years than we did the 18 years before that?
I get it; when you get stung, it hurts. I understand blaming the coaches and the players eases that pain. It happens to every team and organization. I just ask you to look at how far we have come as a franchise in the last three years. Look how relevant we have become as a franchise. The process that McDermott and Beane started in 2018 is going fine. We don’t need to question it when we have been in the playoffs lately and will continue to be in the playoffs. Everyone has their time, and our time is around the corner. This team we have here is different. This is not the old Bills of the almost double-decade of darkness. We might not see it in big leaps, but I see it coming in the future. Be patient, fans, and don’t jump off the wagon just yet. Cause no one circles the wagons, like the BUFFALO BILLS!
If this video below doesn’t make all of Bills Mafia feel what the end of the 18-year drought means to a Bills fan, I don’t know what will!