Joining the Mafia: Why I’m pulling for the Bills

Bills fans in 2014 at Ralph Wilson Stadium, later renamed New Era Field./Wikimedia Commons

By MIKE HERNDON

After Buffalo eliminated his Ravens 17-3 in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs, Baltimore offensive guard Bradley Bozeman tipped his cap to the Bills fans, whom he said affected the game far more than their reduced number should have allowed.

“It was as loud as max capacity in my opinion,” Bozeman said in a postgame press conference, noting that even though only 6,772 were allowed in the stadium, he was having a hard time hearing the snap count.

And Buffalo fans, who proudly refer to themselves as Bills Mafia, responded in what has become their usual way. According to AL.com, Bills fans passed Bozeman’s words among themselves on the internet and began pouring donations to Bozeman’s foundation, which works against bullying and food insecurity.

This isn’t the first time Bills Mafia has shown its appreciation through donations. In 2017, when the Bills made the playoffs thanks to an admirable performance by Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in a game that meant nothing to Cincinnati, they flooded Dalton’s foundation with over $450,000. They also apparently contributed more than $150,000 this week to a charity supported by Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who left Saturday’s game against Buffalo with a concussion.

Yes, Bills Mafia is known for breaking tables in the parking lot. They also might be the most generous fan base in the NFL.

These fans deserve a championship to celebrate, and they’ve never had one. The Bills came close in the 1990s, but they came up short in four trips to the Super Bowl — including an agonizing 1-point loss to the Giants on Scott Norwood’s missed field goal in Super Bowl XXV. Aside from a couple of AFL titles in the ‘60s, Buffalo has never had a professional sports championship of any kind of celebrate. With what looks to be the Bills best team since Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Cornelius Bennett retired, maybe it’s time.

I’ve made no attempts in my contributions to the SportsChasers Twitter presence (@FollowYourShots – give it a follow) to hide my fandom of the Steelers, which dates back to the days of my childhood and the Steel Curtain. Since moving to the Gulf Coast in the early 1990s, and covering the Saints off and on in the 1990s and 2000s (including the franchise’s greatest moment in Super Bowl XLIV), I also have become a fan of New Orleans, who I’ve adopted as my NFC team.

With both unceremoniously dumped out of the playoffs, however, I have to ask: Is there room on the Bills Mafia bandwagon for one more?



Categories: NFL

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