Sunday – how do I begin? How do I start to get my arms around beating the Patriots for the first time in 8 years? How do I deal with it as a Bills fan living in the heart of Patriots country – suburban Boston?In this world there are bad problems and good problems. A bad problem is having to face your friends, neighbors and coworkers twice a season after a defeat at the hands of a team you despise. A good problem is dealing with winning – such a novel problem if you’re a Bills fan. Over the past 24+ hours I’ve progressed through the eight stages of winning and having been on such a journey I thought I would walk my fellow Bills fans through the process lest they have trouble navigating such new territory.
Step 1 – Euphoria and Celebration
On most Sundays I am cloistered away in front of my TV watching the Bills in a very animated fashion (yeah – there’s a reason my wife doesn’t want to be around me and keeps children and small animals away from me). On Sunday I had the rare opportunity to watch the Bills game with some of my friends. Not Bills friends – ex-coworkers with whom I play fantasy football. Did I mention that every last one of these folks is a Patriots fan?
Like the Dolphins fan in the Jets bar on that TV commercial, I am the only person in the house cheering for the Bills. I am also the only person in a Bills jersey, Bills shoes, and a fuzzy royal blue hat with red horns – go big or go home I always say.
When Rian Lindell kicks the winning field goal and jumps onto Brian Moorman’s back, the Bills elatedly burst onto the field and Bill Belichick takes his bitter jog of shame the euphoria pours over me. I yell, I clap, I feel a huge rush of adrenaline. My friends skulk away, leaving me to my own personal celebration. They don’t want to be around me, but I want to be around me and finally, it’s about me.
They say heroin and crystal meth give users a very intense feeling of euphoria – I can see how that could become very addicting – that euphoria is a powerful stuff. I enjoy my euphoria – there is an indescribable energy, brightness and happiness to everything – you probably experienced it yourself if you were watching.
Celebration soon follows. My phone rings with a few congratulatory phone calls - friends calling from far and wide. Time for another plate of good eats. Time for a few more black tooth grins – damn they go down easy at a time like this. Sing a song, do a dance, smile ‘til your face hurts – celebrating is all good. It doesn’t matter what other people think – you’re in the celebration zone feeling the euphoria.
Step 2 – Shock and Disbelief
The adrenaline starts to wear off – time to examine what has happened. Holy cow – did that just really happen? DID…THAT…JUST…HAPPEN? Did the Bills just beat the Patriots? How did they NOT find a way to lose? I can’t believe they actually got the win – they’ve been masters at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory over the past decade. How did Fred Jackson NOT get into the end zone (and oddly enough, how was that a good thing)? How did the field goal snap not go bad? How did the kick not shank left or right? How was there no time left for a kickoff and runback for a soul crushing 4 point loss? Where the hell am I? Time for another black tooth.
Step 3 – Emotion
OK – less adrenaline, more alcohol – I’m mellowing out. Time to reflect on the game and what it means. For the first time in my children’s lives the Buffalo Bills have defeated the New England Patriots. My twins are almost 7 and they can finally know a world where the good guys don’t always lose. That’s profound. Damn I love my kids. I love my wife. I love the Buffalo Bills. Damn these fall allergies – my eyes are watering – hey, someone get me a drink.
Step 4 – Gloating and Anger
It’s morning now. Alcohol is gone, coffee is in and I’m on the way to the office – a Monday morning I’ve been dreaming about for years. Anticipation mounts. Adraline is coming back – oh yeah, it’s going to be a good day. Turn on Sirius and hear Muph’s call of the field goal – I am fired up. I am a fan of the top team in the AFC East – the only undefeated team in the division – the Buffalo Bills. My team IS Buffalo – a bunch of unheralded guys constantly underestimated who just get the job done. Nobody models ugly Australian girl-boots, nobody feels he can cheat with impunity. So – tell me about YOUR team – what makes them so great?
Yes indeed – after 7 years it is time to man up, show your pride in your team and flat out gloat – my team is better than your team. Cry in your coffee – feel the misery – yeah, it’s gonna be a long week.
I obviously wear my Bills polo (I love business casual), hoping to spur some conversation, but nobody bites. The normally chatty lot in the office is surprisingly quiet – nary a word is spoken. A few small “congrats”, but nobody wants to talk about the game. Nobody is talking about their team, nor are they patronizing me with the usual Monday morning backhanded compliments like “your team played a solid game and deserved to win – don’t know how they lost” or “hey – Buffalo is my second favorite team – if it can’t be the Pats I want it to be Buffalo”. I’m more than a bit amped up (maybe it was 4th cup of coffee?) but for the sake of my professional career and my livelihood I must resist the temptation to become Eric Cartman and invite people to – oh, never mind. If you live and work amongst Pat fans you know exactly what I’m talking about – hope you keep it under control.
Step 5 – Fantasy
So the Bills won. If they can do that, what can’t they do? Seriously, they beat a bad team in Kansas City, a decent team in Oakland and now an elite team in New England – how many more games are they going to win? Who CAN’T they beat? Potentially, they could win every game. They could go undefeated in the regular season, through the playoffs, and to a Super Bowl Championship – 19-0! What would I do then? When would they throw the victory parade in Buffalo and how would I get there? How would I get out of work to fulfill my destiny as a Bills fan – standing in front of Buffalo City Hall on a cold winter day watching my team and its fans revel in ultimate glory? So many questions, so few answers…
Step 6 – Nostalgia
It’s been 24 hours since “The Win” – time to relive the memories. Fans have posted various videos of the winning kicks from Bills bars across the nation and they are damn fun to watch. Need an afternoon pick-me-up? Relive the memory of the winning kick – feel the unbridled energy being released by hundreds of rabid Bills fans in a bar going absolutely crazy – be a part of the celebration. The adrenaline kick you’ll get from watching these videos will make you feel like Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction after an encounter with Eric Stoltz and a needle. Good times, Good times…
Step 7 – Fear
Wow – the Bills are 3-0 – undefeated. People are giddy. In 2008 they were nearly as giddy at 5-1 and look at how that turned out – they pretty much tanked the rest of the season. What if the Bills tank the rest of the season? Could it be that the Bills used up the extremely limited karma they’ve been allotted for the season and it’ 0-13 from here on out? Could the Bills actually be on the verge of the absolute worst collapse in the history of the NFL? In 2008 the Bills were doing so well that they actually thought Dick Jauron was a great coach and extended him – a truly dark moment in the team’s history. What if, in their state of euphoric delirium, they go out and hire Dick Jauron as head coach again? What if another satellite falls to earth next week and lands on Fred Jackson? What happens if my new android phone becomes self aware and the machines enslave us all – damn, that’s some scary stuff – I need to chill out.
Step 8 – Acceptance
So chill out I do. Dick Jauron isn’t coming back and my phone won’t enslave me more than it already does (damn you, Angry Birds and your time-wasting ways!). The Bills probably aren’t going 19-0 and I probably don’t need to figure out how to get to Buffalo for a mid-week parade in February. I actually like my friends and co-workers, despite their poor choice in football allegiances, and it’s probably best that I didn’t take a picture of my butt and send it to everyone with some choice words about how great my team is. I’ve to come accept that the past 2 days have been great – an emotional rollercoaster, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I have come to accept that the Bills won a great game on Sunday. I have come to accept that I am hopeful for the rest of the season. I have come to accept that I am a Bills fan and winning is good.