What it means to be a Buffalo Bills fan: Family. Tenderness. Opportunity. Church.
The other night, I got home late from my job, around 11:30 PM or midnight, and I heard a new neighbor of mine. There’s a new family moved in, and they were screaming at each other. They said, “Fuck you!” and “Just leave!” so many times, and, soon enough, they realized I was listening in, to which they said, “What the f&*% are you looking at?!”
I listened to them fight for two hours until the police showed up. It made me sad because it showed that no one was listening. There were senior citizens fighting with minors, and it breaks my heart to see people who love each other treat each other that way.
It’s why I’m glad to be part of #BillsMafia
You know, I don’t have much of a family. We don’t talk, and when we do, it usually leads to fighting, and I can’t handle that, so I avoid such confrontations. But I’ll tell you something: Bills fans are more than a fanbase. They truly are a family. The kindness I and my fellow Mafia have been shown is beyond what we can repay.
Do you know what’s awesome about Bills Mafia? Support. When we do something, when we try, there is a legion of people ready and waiting to be positive (despite the stereotypes about Twitter) and build you up.
Tenderness to tragedy.
A few months ago, a family member of mine took his own life. It tore my family apart, with family member blaming family member, and it sent me into a dark place.
Bills Mafia was there.
I turned to Twitter and to my writing, and Bills Mafia showed tenderness, love, and support as I struggled. And I have known many people in similar or worse straits that were encouraged by the people who call Western New York their home.
If not for the encouragement of Bills fans, I don’t know where I’d be. I’ve made great friends and had so many laughs, as Bills Mafia is the funniest and most knowledgeable fanbase in the NFL. @ me if you want.
I have been given great opportunities because of the Bills Mafia. I have written for TheRunnerSports.com and BuffaloRumblings.com. Those were special to me. And then I was given the chance to be the editor in chief at TheBuffaloFanatics.com.
It’s a special time. You know, this experience has taught me something: there is no substitute for gratitude, even in painful situations. I’m so thankful for the people I’ve been fortunate to meet like Joe Marino, Greg Tompsett, Pierre Kingpin, Sean McDermott, Reid Ferguson, Pancho Billa, and so many more.
The season starts on Sunday. I’m excited, as I haven’t missed a Bills game in many many years. This community is more than a community. It is my church. I sit on Sundays with my snacks and refreshments, and I watch as thousands cheer along with me on my projector.
Sunday is my time. Sunday is my time to commune. And it is in that communion that I find the most peace. Yes, it’s just a stupid game. Yes, it’s just football, but tell that to the kids whose lives were changed by the Andy Dalton foundation that Bills Mafia bankrolled.
The fact is, I commune with the people. And right now, to me, there are no people like the people in Bills Mafia. You are my church. You are my community. You are my family, and I thank you for that.
As we approach week one, I would simply ask one thing. Please extend the kindness and generosity you’ve shown to me to others in Bills Mafia. You don’t realize the difference you make. Believe me. I’ve heard the stories. I know these people. And you’ve changed their lives. Continue to be great, Buffalo and Bills Mafia.
And remember, to all of those who struggle and turn to the Bills for escape, “When it’s too tough for them, it’s just right for us.”