With OTAs ramping up and training camp on the horizon, I figured now would be a good time to reflect on how I think of myself as a fan of the Buffalo Bills. To keep things fairly generalized, I think that most of us probably fit into one or possibly a few of these categories at any given time. For the most part, however, our natural feelings will lean towards one of these fan “types.”
After living in New York, and now North Carolina, I have encountered many different kinds of Bills fans. Personally, I’d like to believe I’m a realist when it comes to expectations for this team with each passing year, but as I thought about it more, I would have to say that I probably fit more into the mold of the “rationalizer” than anything else. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that I, like many of us, trust that the Bills’ brain trust is consistently making good decisions. When a move is made, or a play is called that makes us shake our heads, we tend to come up with some kind of explanation as to why it was done.
What type of Bills fan are you?
The minority population of Bills fans (most likely), the optimist exudes a quiet confidence about the team, and consistently believes that the Bills will win each and every game. The optimist forgets about all of the last second heart-breaking losses, and talks about how “no other team has ever even gone to four straight Super Bowls other than the Bills.” The optimist believed that James Hardy was set to be the perfect complement to Lee Evans for years to come, and also believed that after the Bills started 5-1 in 2008, the playoffs were all but guaranteed. Although far and few in between, I can assure you that I have also met a few extreme optimists. These small (very small) groups of fans actually believe the Bills are going to win the Super Bowl every season.
Many fans of all teams will fit into this category – these fans put complete trust in every move that an organization makes, even when it’s an obvious head-scratcher. Within the past month, the rationalizers have been making their voice heard for why they think giving up 1st and 4th round picks in next year’s draft was DEFINITELY a good move for the Bills. These fans will also come up with reasons why the coaches made certain bone-headed play-calls during games. They will also make what they believe to be objective excuses as to why the team lost on any given week. We have all been the rationalizer at some point in time when we are around friends who are fans of other teams. They might ridicule a personnel move or a play-call during a game, but it is in our nature as Bills fans to rationalize. We are so passionate about our team that we feel the need to defend them, even when we know they don’t deserve defending.
Perhaps the largest contingent of Bills fans will fall into this category. We are all too familiar with the pessimistic Bills fan. Maybe you know you are a pessimistic fan yourself, but you point to the fact that the team hasn’t been to the playoffs in 14 years as justification for your feelings. I tend to sympathize with the pessimist, because to be perfectly honest, the history of this franchise probably gives fans more reasons to be pessimistic than any other possible outlook. A Bills lead late in the fourth quarter? – “They’ll find a way to blow it” A highly touted prospect that the Bills draft in the first round? – “He’ll be a bust.” A quick look at the schedule? – “The NFL hates the Bills; they always give us games against teams coming off their byes.” The pessimistic Bills fan exists in masses across the country, and many times, can’t even enjoy a Bills win because they are already thinking about how they will lose the next week…
Due to the emotion and passion that most Bills fans have for their team, it is sometimes necessary for both optimists and pessimists alike to have a calm and thought-provoking discussion with a realist. Realists are the even-keeled and even-tempered population of Bills fans that many of us often look to for an objective opinion about the team. They are much better at removing emotion from their expectations for a given game or even an entire season. The realist tends to see the Bills for who they really are – talented enough to win some games to avoid being one of the worst teams in the league. They also realize that the gap between the Bills and the rest of the top teams in the AFC means the chances of the team making the playoffs are stacked against them. They also realize that the Patriots winning the division each year is virtually a lock, and will point to the fact that the odds of earning a wild card berth are unlikely at best.