Laramie and Buffalo: A town and a city meant for each other

Photo of University of Wyoming from uwyo.edu.

As a native Western New Yorker who’s lived in Wyoming for nearly three decades, I’ve been blessed with a unique perspective about the blessings (and curses) of living in both places – and there is one truth that emerges over all others.

Laramie, Wyoming (where the University of Wyoming is located) and Buffalo, New York have a lot more in common than most people think.

Huh?

What in the world would a small University town in “flyover country” have in common with a post-industrial rust-belt city rising from the ashes on the shores of Lake Erie?

Turns out, quite a bit if you dig a little deeper into the collective psyche of each community.

Laramie, Wyoming faces the same misrepresentation about it’s beauty, culture and passionate love of sports despite having few trophies to show for it. Wyoming is constantly criticized for being little more than a monolithic wasteland. Sandwiched between Montana and Colorado, Wyoming has always been the forgotten state in between.

Growing up in Western New York (WNY) during the 60s and 70s, I felt the same stigma. Anytime I met someone from outside the region, I heard the litany of “armpit of the east” remarks by people who had never set foot in the area. Wyoming often suffers the same fate. Being dissed by people who have never been to WNY is commonplace.

Photo of State University at Buffalo from ubjobs.buffalo.edu.

So when Josh Allen was drafted by the Buffalo Bills to hopefully become a franchise quarterback on Thursday night, you can imagine I had a mixture of emotions. The fact that the Bills drafted a guy from the university representing the place I’ve called home for almost 30 years was a connection I never expected to happen.

Regardless of what your opinion of Josh Allen is as a quarterback, there are some aspects of his ‘fit’ in Buffalo most people wouldn’t understand because they haven’t lived in Wyoming. Let me share with you a couple of points that provide supporting evidence that a marriage between Laramie (or Wyoming in general) with Buffalo is a match made in heaven.

Get this, Buffalo. The people I’ve talked with from Wyoming since the draft are literally thrilled Josh Allen was drafted by the Bills because Buffalo is exactly the kind of place who will embrace our pride of Wyoming. We are a culture not dissimilar to BillsMafia and having been intimately immersed in both, I can honestly say I couldn’t be happier.

Laramie is a party town and tailgate parties at the University of Wyoming are respectably raucous, even by our lofty BillsMafia standards. They know all about our legendary exploits around New Era Field and get why we are rabid fans despite decades of despair.

Laramie and Buffalo are both cities outsiders laugh at and the pitiful record by their sports teams hasn’t helped either place get any respect on the national stage.

Add Josh Allen and how disrespected he was all the way from high school through the draft, and you have a guy coming in with a mountain of things to prove to himself and the rest of the football world. Straight up, I was afraid he would end up in Buffalo and become a bust and rip my heart to shreds.

Photo of Bills’ QB Josh Allen from clutchpoints.com.

But after doing more homework than just watching the tape on his college games, I’m convinced he is not doomed to become the second coming of EJ Manuel or JP Losman. Mostly, it was this interview with Jordan Palmer that convinced me to let go of my fear. You can listen to the interview (and should if you haven’t already) by clicking the link below:

Jordan Palmer interview at 1:42.50

I suspect Jordan Palmer knows a thing or three more about evaluating quarterbacks than most Bills fans, especially yours truly. His comments about Allen were eye-opening and quelled my irrational expectation of failure to thrive as a Bills’ quarterback.

So take heart, BillsMafia. I believe this quarterback is fulfilling his destiny in a place not unlike his ‘loser’ university in a flyover wasteland. Allen’s own personal journey being dissed at every step along the way won’t hurt his development either. Laramie and Buffalo will have tailgate parties for the ages if this marriage works out the way most of us hope it will.

Editor’s babble: There is truth to this rumor: 

And because I’m such a Buffalo/Wyoming homer, here are a couple of video clips to watch if you want to know what our ‘wasteland’ really looks like…

Wyoming Wildscapes

This one is for those (like myself) who enjoy less “professionally produced” videos – I believe @DownWithCrown from Twitter would especially appreciate this ride. This location is a 35 minute drive from our home…

Beautiful Wyoming-trucker view!

And last but not least, here’s a drive up the road about 20 minutes from our house. This year I’ll try to get up there during the wildflower season and show you some of my favorite places. 

Red Grade Road – Sheridan County, Wyoming

After the Bills forever connected Wyoming and Buffalo, NY and the Sabres won the NHL draft lottery, I’m not sure my joy can be contained. If you can stand the vicious optimism, you can find me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.

About Robyn Mundy

Robyn Mundy is Editor-in-Chief of the BillsMafia blog at BillsMafia.com. She's a retired oncology nurse & psychotherapist who loves to write about her life-long passion for the Buffalo Bills, and occasionally something of clinical or social relevance. Robyn lives with her husband Gary and their dogs in the foothills of the glorious Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Robyn is also a proud founding sponsor. Follow her on Twitter at @robynmundyWYO.

15 Replies to “Laramie and Buffalo: A town and a city meant for each other”

  1. Good morning… Thanks for another outstanding article. I moved to Fla, in “89” and I had to put up with the same negative attitude towards Buffalo from outsiders who didn’t live there and never visited… I always hated this comment when asked where I was from “Sorry” ! Only to find out they were from Ohio or Michigan–Ha Ha like they had room to talk.

    Honestly, I don’t hear those comments too much any more as Buffalo’s reputation has gotten better.

    I knew Allen was at Palmer’s camp working on his footwork and if Palmer gives him Kudo’s it is a step in the right direction.

    Allen is going to be a hell of a player, I have faith in Beanie and McD as their relationship reminds me so much of the Polian–Marv era.

  2. Russ Brandon is out as pres of Bills and Sabres due to behavioral shenanigans…

    • Just saw that. I’m glad he’s gone, I think he was the last link to the old regime of Ralph and his cronies.

  3. Meh…I don’t think he had much to do with the on field product at this point so I don’t think there will be any difference. When he was GM, sure. Although he supposedly wasn’t even making personnel decisions then…some idiot just gave him an inappropriate title. Kim Pegula is taking over, at least for the interim…will she make any difference with the on field product? No.

    That said, I’m not sad he’s gone…but I think he had no bearing on how ‘well’ the teams performed at their sport at this point. But hey, he can still be the scapegoat for Josh Allen when he goes bust!

    • He was responsible for drafting Aaron Maybin and other busts. When he took over as Bills CEO, he ranted and raved that the Bills brand was tarnished and he would leave no stone unturned in finding the right coach, then he was so infatuated with Marrone and immediately stopped the coaching search (Marrone was only the third person Brandon interviewed). Then he told the Pegula’s “Don’t let him [Rex Ryan] leave the building,” and we all know how Wrecks tenure with the Bills went.

      I’ll give him credit for helping orchestrate the sale of the Bills, keeping the Bills viable during the 17 year drought as well as game attendance figures. Otherwise, I’m glad he’s gone. Ralph had trust issues and put people in key positions in the organization that weren’t qualified, but were trusted by Ralph and the results on the field showed.

  4. Whether he made the call on Maybin, I doubt it. Although he had the title of GM and he didn’t shoot down the bad decision. But the incompetence was making Russ the GM in the first place. He should have been removed from those duties about 30 seconds after being given them…and that still would have been at least 30 seconds too long.

    Whatever the case, I’m not upset he’s gone…it’s actually a good thing considering the apparent reasoning behind it. But I think the blame he gets for how crappy the teams have performed is overblown. His job was the business side and that the Bills are as viable as they’ve been, especially with as bad as they were that whole time…hard for me to say he was doing poorly at his actual job…ya know, outside of apparently being sleazy and all.

    • Another thing I forgot to mention about Russ was his proclamation of establishing “a very robust analytic department” which never happened. Russ is like Plankton from SpongeBob…99% hot air.

      After Marv Levy left, I do blame Brandon for how terrible the on-field product was since he was the GM, as well as hiring Marrone, trading up for Watkins (Brandon made the statement “We are going to be bold” before the draft), telling Wrecks “the Pegula’s like red wine” and telling the Pegula’s “don’t let him leave the building.” All of those had significant impacts on the on-field product. I agree Brandon should have never been made GM, but that goes back on Ralph Wilson having trust issues (putting people in charge that he trusted, even though they weren’t qualified and were in way over their head).

  5. McBeane let the analytics dept go shortly after coming on…guess it’s no wonder they took Allen.

    As for Marrone, I think the guy is a jackass…but is he terrible? I don’t like his style and I think he’s behind the times offensively…but so far his results are solid. Where I would question Russ is giving some unproven from Syracuse a 4 million dollar walk clause. Granted, the Bills were in a questionable situation with Ralph more or less on his death bed, but Marrone wasn’t such hot s**t that you should have needed to give him a clause like that. Wrecks…I dunno, I bought into the hype, too.

    People seem to think McBeane is the greatest decision to ever happen to the Bills about now, though…if Russ is behind all the decisions, doesn’t he not get credit for that one? Personally, I’m not a fan of that decision at the moment, but I don’t put the credit/blame at Brandon’s feet. His job was the business side and the Bills consistently made money despite being a crappy product.

    • The positive I see from Marrone is that he hires good DC’s. Under Pettine, the Bills defense improved to #10, then #4 under Schwartz. But Marrone’s offenses in Buffalo were just as bad as Dick Jauron’s (l=ultra-conservative). Marrone inherited a good situation in Jacksonville as the team has been bad for many years, drafted numerous times in the Top 10 and were able to build a great defense. So far, reporters in Jacksonville love him, but wait until those reporters start saying negative things about him and you’ll see Marrone do a 180. In Buffalo, Marrone was more worried about what was said/written about him in the media. Here’s a story about how Marrone interrogated Tim Graham at the Buffalo Airport: http://buffalonews.com/2016/11/25/marrone-week-full-story-doug-marrone-interrogating-reporter-airport-tweets-bills-jaguars/

      My point on Brandon is that talked a good game (leaving no stone unturned) and stopped at his third interview (Marrone) instead of interviewing a long list of candidates like he alluded to. Marrone had two good seasons at Syracuse and two bad seasons (he was a .500 coach). The very robust analytic department was a joke. Brandon’s infatuation with Wrecks lead the #4 ranked defense in the league go into the sh*tter and we saw players like Mariocre quit on Wrecks.

      I don’t give credit to Brandon on McDermott as it seems McDermott was Terry Pegula’s guy from the statements Terry made. Terry also stated he was going to be heavily involved in that coaching search which landed McDermott. Seems Terry did the same with hiring Jason Botterill as the Sabres GM. Now, I don’t know about McBeane being the greatest decision in team history, but I give those two a lot of credit for turning over the roster and being able to overachieve in their first year. It looked for sure that the Bills were going to be a 4-12 team before the start of the season with the amount of turnover they had. IMO, McBeane has had more hits than misses last season.

      It seems now that the Pegula’s have more experience with being owners of teams in the NFL and NHL, they are becoming more involved in the decision making process. It’s painfully obvious the Sabres have been a disaster, but who knows, with having the #1 pick in the draft, it could change the Sabres fortunes around. As for the Bills, so far, the Pegula’s tenure as owners has been better than the previous 14 years of ownership by Ralph Wilson. I’m not trying to bash the dead, if it weren’t for Mr. Wilson, there would be no Buffalo Bills to begin with and the team would have eventually been the Toronto A’s (a little Canadian humor) Bills, but he was an absentee owner the last 14 years of his life, plus he had trust issues throughout his time as owner which is predominately why the team only made the playoffs 17 times in 54 years.

  6. Regardless of personal feeling about Marrone, the guy won at Syracuse and he won at Buffalo. U don’t need to like his personality, but the dude wins. Don’t care about what he inherited at Jax…..he won and he inherited garbage at cuse and won. Letting Schwartz go was a stupid move by Whaley not Brandon AND Marrone left Buffalo because of Whaley not Brandon!

    • Disagree. I called into WGR550 and talked to Chris Brown from bb.com and posed the question to him “why didn’t the Bills keep Schwartz as the DC, especially after the Bills defense finished 4th in the league.” Chris stated that Schwartz was only going to stay if he was promoted to HC. So, that goes on Brandon for pushing Rex on the Pegula’s. In regards to Marrone winning at Syracuse, he went 8-5 twice and 4-8 and 5-7 with an overall record of 25-25, a .500 coach, not awe inspiring!

      • Steve – he also won 2 bowl games for a toilet program AND has cuse been in a bowl since he left? Sorry, but Marrone wins wherever he goes AND it’s common knowledge that Whaley was the reason Marrone AND Schwartz left.

        Marrone left the Bills at 9-7…..not stellar, but a winning season.

        • I’ve heard from multiple sources that Schwartz was only staying if he got the HC position as well as he did not want to work under Rex Ryan. In regards to Marrone’s time in Buffalo, I think his choices for DC made him look better. Marrone was ultra-conservative, his offenses were amongst the worst in the league, plus how many times did he punt within the opposing teams 50 yard line? With the 9-7 record, the ninth win was a gimmie as the Patriots benched their starters in the first quarter. I guess we’ll agree to disagree on these topics, but I do agree with you about Whaley as he was he had problems with all his coaches. Whaley might have been a good scout prior to coming to Buffalo, but was a terrible GM.

  7. Robyn – another wonderful article and I appreciate the information about Wyoming…..can understand why u moved to that beautiful country!