Being a lifelong Buffalo Bills fan, I understand 'sports misery' more than most. Scott Norwood's wide right in Super Bowl XXV, another Super Bowl loss the next year, and the next year…and the year after that too. That is enough torture for any fan.
It's not easy to be a fan of a team that has always been a running joke. You know it's bad when your most heartbreaking moment as a fan is turned into a joke in a Jim Carey movie. Most moviegoers know it as Ace Venture Pet Detective. You know the one where it has a character, kicker Ray Finkle, who becomes obsessed with his missed field goal In the Super Bowl and turns psycho only to warp into a woman? Yeah, that film. Audiences got a big laugh. Bills fans got ulcers.
The Bills were a dominant team in the 90s under Marv Levy and consisted of stars like Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, etc. But those glory days are long gone. Buffalo hasn't been to the playoffs since 1999. The last memory us Bills fans have of their team in the postseason was The Music City Miracle where Tennessee Titans Kevin Dyson took a forward pass (yeah, I said it) on a kickoff return all the way to the end zone in the closing seconds, eliminating a guaranteed Bills victory and propelling the Titans all the way to the Super Bowl. This of course, was a direct result of the Doug Flutie curse. Yes, it's real. That painful loss and 12 year playoff absence occurred because coach Wade Phillips benched starting QB Doug Flutie for Rob Johnson the last game of the season despite earning a 10-5 record. Yes,that is exactly why the Bills have been awful for years.
There have been bright spots though. In 2008, the Bills started out 5-1. "This was it. This was the year we make it back to the playoffs," were my thoughts. Then they went 2-8 to finish the year.
It wouldn't be a Bills season without getting fan's hopes up only to crush it. Buffalo had perfected the MO on how to be a bad, cheap franchise and frustrate their fans. They could never finish good enough to make the playoffs but never bad enough to get a top pick to change the franchise with an elite QB. When they did draft, it usually left Bills fans upset and scratching their heads. First round picks J.P. Losman, John McCargo, Donte Whitner, Aaron Maybin, Leodis McKelvin were all first round disappointments. When Buffalo did make a good decision by drafting Marshawn Lynch, they traded him to Seattle for peanuts despite going over a 1,000 yards his first two seasons. Now he is a premier back for Seattle and doing well.
As a fan, you always threaten to leave if things don't change, acting as if you're an abused woman in a troubled relationship. And you always come back because you want to believe things will get better. 2011 seemed like it was our year. Buffalo made an excellent first round pick in Alabama's Marcell Dareus. Wideout Steve Johnson continued to shine as an elite WR, halfback Fred Jackson was carving up opposing defenses, and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was red hot. The Bills started 4-1 out of the gate with a win over the juggernaut New England Patriots. This was it. This was the year we were going back to the playoffs. The curse was over. Then the Bills went 2-9 the rest of the way.
Same old Bills.
Buffalo is steadily rebuilding — it seems — and giving us fans a reason to hope. The Bills were considered major winners in free agency and the 2012 NFL Draft. The Bills actually spent a lot of money to get star DE, Mario Williams and re-signed their best player, Steve Johnson. This was very unexpected for this fan who has been quoted as saying that "Being a Bills fan is like enjoying getting punched in the face." With smart management, a young and upcoming squad to go with a relatively weak schedule this season, the Bills are a legitimate playoff contender. Buffalo, in all likeliness, could go 10-6 or 9-7 and be good enough to steal a Wild Card spot.
This is it! This is the year we make it back to the playoffs!
Or there is always next year.
Buffalo did lose their opening game 48-28 to the Jets on Sunday…
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