I was ready to cry tonight. I've been readying myself for weeks. The Four Falls of Buffalo had been on the vague horizon for a while, and when the date and time were announced, defense mechanisms kicked in. Playful concessions of my likely emotions were placed in the public fora in plain view, taking up positions within the ranks among all the other hearts on all the other sleeves on all the other fans of the Buffalo Bills.
Public self-flagellation is something we do well. It's part of how we get by. It's part of why this blog exists.
Norwood's kick went up, the screen cut to some graphic or another, and somewhere in the subsequent moments, looking at the word "Bills" etched across the back of #12 as he leaned out and looked at our Falls, I knew that tears wouldn't be forthcoming. As much as I knew I might actually need a decent weep, and as much as I knew how much said weeping would be entirely justified by the catharsis of sitting through a documentary about the "what ifs" surrounding the best sports franchise I may ever align myself with in this lifetime, the catharsis didn't ask me for tears. It asked me for joy.
It asked me to accept the simple truth that there is nothing I have liked as long and as hard than the simple fact of being a fan of the Buffalo Bills and that this simple truth is not just ok - it's a fucking blessing.
It's no secret that the team has been absolutely, unmistakably wretched for far longer than it was ever successful during my life as a fan, nor is it an original take. That wretchedness is the primary narrative of the 21st century for this particular sports team, and the corresponding narrative of a fan base waiting for a genuine shot to cheer for a contender is a close second.
Those narratives are full of unfuckwithable truth, so this is by no means intended to dismiss them from our consciousness, but there is nothing that says we must be inexorably defined by them. We need not adopt them wholesale, as our own.
"Being a Buffalo Bills fan really isn't being a fan, it's a way of life. It represents people who honestly believe that against all the odds, against some of the worst weather imaginable, they have a magnificent life that they're proud of." - Tim Russert
It may not be the most artful way to express this belief, but it's packed with that meaning and that big picture belief all the same.
We can always choose - to watch or ignore, to invest or divest, to believe or bemoan, to hang our hat on a community of fans that sustains itself with joy and passion and Canadian whisky or to balk at a franchise historically and consistently incapable of putting this motherfucking jigsaw puzzle together.
This team may have shot itself in the foot too many times this season, and it still may blow up in our faces, but in the meantime, they're still very much in the playoff race with four games left and a squad that has given us something to hope for if we so choose. They have hated municipal rival Philadelphia on the docket and a winnable game for every Sunday until January 3rd. If it all falls apart, as it likely will, it'll always be ok. It'll always still be the thing many of us have liked the longest and the most, and that's not nothing.
Let's have some fun. That's what we do best.
Oh beeteedubs, I've been drinking.