Fans were the story this week

January 7, 2018
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Well that was fun. Not so much the game, which didn’t end well for the Buffalo Bills. I’m more thinking about the days, heck you could maybe talk me into dwelling on the hours and minutes, since Andy Dalton connected with Tyler Boyd last Sunday night right up until this Sunday afternoon in Jacksonville.

17 seasons in a row without a playoff appearance will do that to a fan base. Make ‘em all giddy about a one and done Wild Card team. Not that you knew all week long that the Bills would lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars. It’s more that I don’t think it mattered too much if the Bills won. The drought ended. Fans who were too young to remember their Bills in the playoffs got to enjoy the feeling and even us, ahem, older fans, reveled in it just the same.

Aside from one misguided local columnist who seemed to be making the point that enjoying the Bills being back in the playoffs must mean you don’t care about a flailing city school system nor the threat of nuclear war, my sense is that fans young and old dug into the accomplishment for what it was. An end to the embarrassment of carrying around the longest postseason appearance drought in sports.

All week long, I never sensed much push back from fans who’ve experienced higher highs. No lecturing of the buzzing fans to act like they’ve been there before because some of us watched the Bills play in Super Bowls. That was very much a relief to me. The idea should be to have some fun with your team once every 18 years. Besides, it’s a lot to ask people to collectively act like they’ve been there before when, well, they haven’t actually been there before.

This week began with lots of talk of expensive tickets in Jacksonville and even pricier flights to Florida. By mid-week, it seemed likely that everyone knew someone that was making the trip to this game. But even then, I wasn’t that sure how many fans would show up. On our show Friday, I didn’t want to assume there’d even be thousands of Bills fans at this game.

Then Sunday morning came and the images, mostly from Lot X in Jacksonville, started emerging via Twitter, and it was spectacular. Thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of Bills fans were everywhere. As far as the eye could see, an ocean of Bills fans. Sure, some of them threw one another through tables, but much more than that, these people showed up to wring every last drop of enjoyment out of a week that was long overdue.

That scene left me feeling lots of the feelings on Sunday morning, hours before the game would even start. Pride. Pride in our city and pride in our team. Above all else, pride in you, the fans of the Bills. Way to show up people. You’ve never looked better.

As for the game, I’m assuming you watched it. The Bills got beat by a quarterback who ran for more yards than he passed for. Not surprisingly, the Buffalo offense couldn’t do anything against the top defense in the NFL. So the ride ends in Jacksonville, one week after the demise of the drought. I’ll leave the analysis of this game to someone else. This week and this game were more about the fans than anything else and they made it count.

One more time, good on you Bills fans.