I will be pulling out my faded blue Buffalo Bills sweatshirt soon as the National Football League season gets underway. The sweatshirt is now over twenty years old. It never brought any luck to my beloved Bills back when I bought it in the early 1990s. I should have tossed it out many seasons ago. But I can’t.
In the late 1980s, the Buffalo Bills started a winning dynasty. Back then, quarterback Jim Kelly, running back Thurman Thomas, and defensive back Bruce Smith were household names in western New York. Coach Marv Levy led a team of skilled players to several winning seasons, many division and conference titles, and four trips to the Super Bowl.
That’s where the heartache began for fans of the team.
The Bills went to the Super Bowl four times and never won. Each time, they came back to western New York as winners for getting into the big game. But each time, there was an undercurrent of “wait until next year”.
I became a Bills fan during those years. In fact, I became an NFL fan during those years. Before the Bills started winning, Sunday afternoons were reserved for family activities as my wife and I raised our two daughters.
Once Buffalo became a contender, I started to carve out a little time to watch their games. As our daughters got older, the Bills became more of a focal point in the house during football season. I never converted the girls to full-fledged football followers, but that did not stop me from trying.
My attempt to start a little football pool, much like the ones most work places had in those years, often found my daughters making picks without regard to the win and loss records, but more on jersey colors or interesting team names.
But it did not matter. I had a lot of fun following the Buffalo Bills in that time of my life. Every Sunday, I’d put on that blue sweatshirt and watch their game.
As the Bills’ winning years started to fade from view, I continued to watch the NFL. By the time I moved to California in 2004, there wasn’t much to cheer about for my team. Every season started with optimism. Every season ended with hopes for better luck next year.
The one thing that remained constant has been my faded blue sweatshirt. I’ll retire it when the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl.
In the meantime, I have come up with some rules I’ll follow as this newest season of football gets underway:
I will not resign myself to believe any team that starts 0-3 is out of it for the season.
I will not be convinced that any team starting the season at 3-0 has a playoff berth locked up.
I will use the time between the end of the Sunday late afternoon game and the start of Sunday Night Football to get out of my chair and exercise.
I will diversify my snack food mix to include cheese curls.
Having kept my pre-season resolution not to care about exhibition games, I’ll refuse the temptation to talk back to the television when an announcer says, “He looked good in the pre-season.”
I’ll make a better effort to remember who won on Sunday when I’m watching Monday Night Football.
I will add to this list one more item: I will continue to wear my Buffalo Bills sweatshirt every Sunday throughout the football season.
Here’s to another season of America’s game. Enjoy!
Steve Newvine lives in Merced.