December 06, 2011

The Nation’s Third Oldest College Newspaper

Volume 82, Issue 6

Bleeding red, white and blue

by Tyler Russell

Its been 12 years. Over a decade and not a single playoff game for the Buffalo Bills. Now this is not to bash the Bills, or their loyal fanbase, but rather to provide an outlet for Bills fans alike to relate and reflect upon.

The Buffalo Bills and the city they represent have become synonymous with mediocrity. Buffalo, along with other cities comprising the Rust Belt, have little national recognition outside of our immediate region. Therefore, it takes on a sense of mistaken identity. It is not uncommon to hear the words snowfall and unfriendly weather when listening to outsiders attempt to describe Buffalo. Likewise, words such as respect and pride have become past tense in illustrating the recent history of the Bills.

I can speak for more than myself in saying that the Bills define the City of Buffalo, and in turn, the citizens that comprise it share a strong emotional bond to their team. Inhabitants of larger cities, which house other professional sports organizations, do not collectively share such a connection to their team.

In Buffalo, things are simply different.

From the time you are born to the time you die, you bleed red, white, and blue. You are a Bills fan and, as Tim Russert so eloquently put it, It's who we are. It's what Buffalo is.

Despite the last decade of ineptitude and the heartbreaking losses, which seemingly occur every weekend, it's the Bills whom we continually go back to.

It's about taking punches in the gut and continuing to move forward, because that's what fandom is and that is what Buffalo was built upon. How much disappointment and despair can you take and keep cheering your team on? Because one day you know that your time will come, and when it does, all the heartbreak will pay off. You should expect nothing less from a city of predominantly blue collar workers who take losses personally and carry with them the pride embodied in a helmet logo.

It's not easy; it's just the way it is.

Believe me when I say that I have sat there with the rest of us and watched countless promising seasons go up in smoke. Like all others of Bills Nation, I have stared blankly at my television screen stopped cold at how the Bills can raise loosing to such an art form. I have played the numbers game in early November and tried to convince myself that the playoffs could be a possibility, knowing all the while the great degree of my mere illusion.

However, it's what being a Bills fan equates to and it's what Buffalonians are all about.

Now some have argued that the Bills organization resides under a dark cloud, one which seems to be concretely placed. With four straight Super Bowl losses in the early 1990s and an ongoing playoff drought, you could certainly make that the case. What used to be a dignified and opponent-feared force has imploded into a ridiculed and hapless cluster of old men and castoffs. The prominent Bills of the past seem to be a distant memory, much like the former City of Light.

With that being said, the people, the place and the team still exist. Although our time is not now, and that figurative cloud sits idle above us, eventually our time will come and the people of Buffalo will not miss. What once was can be again.

They say hope springs eternal, and as long as Buffalo still has its team, hope will always remain.

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