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How to be a Buffalo Bills fan in New England
Though an AFC East matchup between Buffalo and New England may not carry the same weight or draw as much attention as one between New York and New England, most Bills fans are far less interested in beating Rex Ryan's "Gang Green" than in beating Belichick's faceless winning machine. Why? Well, because Ralph Wilson's identity-devoid squad of misfits has struggled to find consistency since the departure of Hall of Fame quarterback, Jim Kelly, and his supporting cast of fellow and future Hall of Famers. The end result of what is nearing a score of seasons of mediocrity has been nearly a score of winless attempts at beating New England.
It has been an agonizing stretch for the fans on the Western part of this rivalry in which each contest, regardless of its playoff implications, seems as important as a super bowl. If you, like me, find yourself living in Pats country, keeping your morale high, "billieving" in your team, and showing your fanhood can come at a high cost. Even small public displays of allegiance (PDA's) such as wearing a Bills hat can draw the effrontery of passers-by and induce the stigma of having a "loser" as your team; what can a Bills Backer do but take it? You can't make a witty comeback to someone whose team perennially humiliates yours. You can't claim a super bowl victory or a historic pounding of the Pats anytime in recent memory, so what recourse do you have?
You have fanaticism. The only thing you can do is be a better fan than the man on the other end of the bar. Sure, it's easy to be a fan of a team who is a playoff and super bowl contender year after year like the Patriots. It's a whole different animal when your team is the punch line to America's football jokes and seemingly hasn't seen post-season football since before Ralph Wilson had his AARP card. Show the MA-sses that you don't care what they say about you. You are an imperturbable, obstinate fan of your team no matter how badly they perform, no matter what the final score, no matter if you're driving on "The Pike" or "The Thruway." You're a Bills fan, so show it!
Here are a few tips on how to do so. Remember, it is important that you disregard any negativity you encounter.
1) Dust off your Bills gear and wear it. Remember that horrible Bills tie you got from your nephew for Christmas last year and you promised your wife you wouldn't wear? Now's the time to break it out the week of a game versus the Pats and wear it to the office.
2) Make your car a Billsmobile. A bumper sticker or license plate cover is easily enough. You don't need to have the "Shout" song blaring from your car everywhere you go. A simple automobile tramp-stamp of a buffalo is enough to signal to fellow Bills supporters that they're not alone.
3) Find the nearest Bills Backers bar and save it in your GPS. It can act like Bills church on Sundays. There are two of them in Boston alone, and on game days it's good to have a sanctuary.
4) Stay up to date with NFL news, especially that which has to do with the Bills or the Pats. There's no better way to one-up the opponent in the event of a heated debate than by showing him that you are not only a better supporter of your own team, but you know his team better than he does himself. At the very least, get to know the Pats' practice squad as that is a part of the roster that gets little, if any, attention from fans of other teams.
5) Do not lose your Western New York lingo. Order "chicken wings" and "pop" when you go to watch a game. Ask for Labatt even when you are certain they don't serve it, then ask for Molson, and if they don't have that then stick with pop. You are in a different area, you are not a different person so do not change to fit in. When you get awkward looks for ordering such foreign things, maintain that those are the correct terms for the requested items. When you leave, make sure you hop on "the" 90 or "the" 95 and make sure to specify the compass direction.
6) Never admit any pain caused by the four super bowl losses or the innumerable consecutive losses to the Pats. What happens happens and you accept that. Maybe you are used to your team losing, but it never publicly gets you down.
7) Take all measures necessary to resist the pressure of friends, family, and others who may attempt to hijack your allegiance to the Bills. If you're in New England, undoubtedly there will be some people who will disrespect your fanhood and attempt to lead you astray like the Pied Piper or Darth Vader. Do not relent!
Bills fans, follow this advice and you, like me, will be able to proudly display your Bills' red, white, and blue in enemy territory with the knowledge that you aren't just jumping on the bandwagon of a successful team. You're in this football thing for the long haul. You have been a Bill, you are a Bill, and you will forever be a Bill. Keep on "billieving" and when the day comes when we do not say, "there's always next year," it will be ever the more satisfying.
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