Iím not really one for clichÈs, but yesterdayís matchup between my beloved
Buffalo Bills and the Cleveland Browns was a roller coaster of emotions for me.
Frustration as I watched Trent Edwards toss three interceptions into the waiting
arms of the Browns secondary (one of the worst in the league) in the first
quarter. Relief that despite everything they were only down 13-10 at halftime.
Extreme disappointment when Browns backup running back Jerome Harrison broke
through the Bills brick wall linebackers for a 72 yard score. Pure euphoria when
Bills kick returner Leodis McKelvin returned the very next play for a 98 yard
touchdown. Pride when Marshawn Lynch inexplicably dragged four defenders 20 yards
downfield to reach the Browns 1 yard line, and then nervous anticipation when
Edwards put Buffalo ahead 27-26 with a QB sneak. Disbelief when Cleveland kicker
Phil Dawson hit a 56 yarder like it was a chip shot to put the Browns back up 29-
27. But there was time left for a drive. Kickoff short to avoid McKelvin. 13
yarder to rookie wide receiver Steve Johnson. 22 yarder to tight end Robert
Royal. 56 seconds to go. Run for 1 yard. Run for 1 yard. Run for 1 yard. 47
yard field goal into the wind from the left hash mark (sound familiar?). Field
goal missed, wide right. Again.
Iím an emotional sports fan. Iíve broken
things and yelled at people. Iím not proud of it but thatís just how I act
sometimes. This time, there was nothing but stunned silence. I gathered my
things, quietly said goodbye to my equally devastated friends, and took a long
walk home in the snow. When I made it back, I tried for about an hour to find a
song to listen to that would actually make me feel better (It was My Name is
Jonas by Weezer for whatever reason). I spent a couple hours on a Bills fan-board
commiserating with others in my misery and then I went to bed, only to dream of
more missed field goals.
The worst part is that this was supposed to be the
year. The Bills started the season 4-0 and then got a big road win against the
Chargers to improve to 5-1 and everything was coming up roses. The sports media
was including Buffalo in their examination of which teams were favorites to take
the Superbowl this year. Now they are 5-5 and given the teamís current mental
state a heroic playoff run seems about as probable as me sticking to that
See, the Bills have made an art out of the agony of defeat. If the
team is famous for doing one thing, it is losing in new, creative ways. After a
big loss, I always tell myself ìWell at least theyíll never top that one.î And
then, without fail, they always do. Wide Right. 4 consecutive Superbowl losses.
The Music City Miracle. Losing to the Steelersí third stringers in a potentially
playoff clinching game. Nick Folk. Wide Right 2.0. All of them bigger punches
to the gut than most fans have to endure in a lifetime. The joke is that we donít
want a Superbowl because it would somehow alter the cityís identity as the lovable
loser. Thatís a defense mechanism. Give any Buffalonian the choice and heíd give
his left hand so that the Bills could put a ring on theirs.
doesnít change anything. A lesser fan base might be tempted to give up on the
team after decades of heartbreak and 13 years of ineptitude by the front office
and coaching staffs. Maybe itís because the Billsí mediocrity is microcosmic of
the cityís financial and social struggles. Maybe itís because the more often you
lose, an ultimate win is that much sweeter. This loss emotionally devastated me,
but by the time next Sunday comes (just 5 more days!) Iíll be in front of the
television at 1 o clock, ready to ride the roller coaster again, because Iím a
Bills fan, plain and simple, for better or worse, til death do we part.
the words of Nick Carraway, ìGatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic
future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but thatís no
matter- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch our arms fartherÖ and one fine
morning-ì That is precisely how we feel. Weíre not losers. We just havenít won
yet. But we will, one day. And what a day that will