It’s not a secret that Buffalo Bills fans, or the #BillsMafia (as we like to call ourselves) are a special group of people. Long known for our raucous tailgate parties and legendary celebration doing shots from a bowling ball while “Pinto Ron” douses himself in ketchup and mustard, BillsMafia reigns supreme as the NFL’s craziest and most passionate fan base.
And while most players over the years have recognized and appreciated our effort to support them on and off the field, several of them recently took time to acknowledge our devotion to the team.
I haven’t cried this much in one month since the Bills lost their last Super Bowl on January 30,1994. However, this time instead of mourning a fourth championship loss in a row, these were tears of joy after a fairy-tale ending to a mind-boggling playoff drought.
Then the sad news came that our beloved center Eric Wood was being forced into retirement by a neck injury. More tears. Though the announcement of Wood’s ‘retirement’ was marred by a bizarre press conference and subsequent confusion over how this will all roll out in terms of his contract, there was no confusion about the mutual love that exists between Eric Wood and BillsMafia.
What a wild game! Thanks to the fans that braved the snow. Victory Monday! pic.twitter.com/8DnBsX4oNr
— Eric Wood (@EWood70) December 11, 2017
And if that news wasn’t enough to empty our collective tear ducts, this message to BillsMafia by former Bills’ safety Aaron Williams opened the floodgates. His beautiful tribute took my breath away, as it likely did for many fans in Western New York and around the world as they read it.
“There was this one moment that really got me. It was when I met this young Bills fan. This kid must have been like five years old, swagged out in Bills gear from head to toe. And I’ll never forget, this kid … he was telling me how he wanted to play in the NFL one day — that when he grew up, he wanted to be just like me. And my first thought was, Wait, wait — hold up. This kid wants to be like … me? Is that really a good idea? …
And I swear, man … that summer, before the 2013 season, after I met that kid? I reevaluated everything. I realized that I hadn’t even given Buffalo a chance. And the more time I spent out in the community getting to know the city, the more I realized that Buffalo is … well, it’s just Buffalo. It’s a blue-collar city. People work their asses off, and they love their Bills. That’s the deal. And I finally started to understand what an incredible responsibility it was to play for this football team.”
It’s remarkable when a professional athlete credits an entire fan base for stimulating his or her personal growth, but that’s exactly what Aaron Williams did with his open letter ‘To Buffalo’. Massive donations to the Andy Dalton Foundation and to the Eric Wood Fund at Children’s Hospital do provide ample evidence regarding the generosity of this FAMbase.
The trifecta of love vibes for BillsMafia came in a surprising message from LeSean McCoy earlier this week in the Players Tribune.
“If only we would have won….
After the plane touched down and we were rolling down the tarmac, I looked out the window. And that’s when I saw it.
The Bills Mafia.
Thousands of you.
We all felt so bad that we had disappointed you. And yeah, maybe you were disappointed.
But you were also proud.
And you all showed up to let us know that.
To show your support.
To show love.
That’s why I say: There’s nothing like Bills fans.
Whether we’re winning or losing, you always have our backs.
So thank you — for dealing with all the ups and downs … for being right there with us through all the adversity … for always sticking with us.
That hasn’t gone unnoticed.”
Like, wow. LeSean McCoy gets us. Gives me visions of Sally Field back in the day:
As the rest of the nation pays homage to Super Bowl weekend, some of us will be relishing the love showered upon us by Buffalo Bills players who understand our compassionate nature. Our future is very bright and the love we share for one another will only enhance the celebration when a Lombardi Trophy makes its home in Buffalo.
Editor’s babble: What an emotional time for Bills fans! Let’s keep the kindness of spirit going as we march out of our dynasty of despair. You can find me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO if you can stand the abrasive optimism.
*All views expressed on our blog belong the authors and not necessarily reflective of the owners of the website billsmafia.com.