Do you actually realize how big of an icon Mario Williams can become in Buffalo?
I was thinking about this on my flight back from San Francisco, and really, it’s one of the most thrilling thoughts that’s gone through my head regarding the Bills in quite some time.
We all felt “Fitzmagic” last fall, but the spell it had over us suddenly faded to sheer frustration and agony by November.
Williams has what it takes to be the best defender Buffalo’s had since Bruce Smith. No joke. At 27 years old, we aren’t talking about a one-year, gimmicky quick fix, either. The Bills haven’t had a legitimately dominating force on the defensive side of the football in, I’d say, over 10 years.
Western New York football fans, scattered across the globe, have been absolutely starved for a true superstar since the late 1990s.
Imagine if Williams records double-digit sacks and is a major factor in the team snapping its utterly embarrassing postseason drought that stretches back to Y2K.
Really think about that.
Total madness would ensue in Buffalo and Williams would be at the center of it all.
He’d become a larger than life figure in a town that sat on the edge of its collective seat, then went berserk when Williams merely decided to sign with its team.
Sure, NFL players can quickly morph into local pop icons when they’re directly responsible for a club’s success.
Last year, the obviously flawed but determined Tim Tebow exploded onto the scene and instantly became an icon in Denver during his heroic run to the postseason.
But in Buffalo, it’d be different.
Every other NFL fan base has been fortunate enough to experience a trip to the postseason and witness clear superstardom it could call its own more recently than the Bills’.
I don’t know about you, but a little part of what fuels me to stay loyal to my favorite team is the enticement of what it’ll feel like when the Bills are actually relevant again and are good enough to compete in the playoffs.
Obviously, I can’t specifically predict the atmosphere, but I imagine it’d be like winning the Super Bowl.
Williams can be the guy that takes the Bills to what we’d call “the promised land.” If he does so, the 2011 “Fitzmagic” craze will be remembered as a tiny blip on the radar screen of popularity.
In Western New York, the name “Super Mario” would become more synonymous with the Bills than its Nintendo origin.
Wearing a Williams jersey would become a uniform of regional pride. Clinging to 1990’s old- school apparel would no longer be necessary, though it’ll never go out of style.
My 1992 AFC champion sweatshirt is getting a little small, anyway.
All of this may seem obvious—the great player who leads the futile Bills back to the playoffs would become the toast of the town in Buffalo—a living legend.
However, the thought of an immensely beloved athlete possibly emerging is now more significant and more relevant.
Because for the first time in over a decade, the Bills actually have a player with the special abilities to truly become a Buffalo icon.