When Steve Tasker roamed the sidelines of the season finale between the Bills and Jets at the Meadowland, he made a comment about how Bills fans are made up of “90% scar tissue” after missing the playoffs for 17 years. That phrase really stuck with me over the past week.
Like many Bills fans, I spend my time during the NFL playoff season participating in the yearly ritual of dissecting Buffalo’s disastrous football season (yet again x 17). This season… Tasker’s comment became the framework for my dreadfully anticipated annual failure-analysis.
Without a doubt the term ‘scar tissue’ visually captures the heart and soul of our fan base these days. Death by a thousand cuts also seems to describe the collective exasperation we share. Flesh wounds may not kill us, but provide just enough misery to wish they had.
And if that isn’t enough, when the seemingly inevitable rupture occurs with the head coach du jour, we are immediately subjected to a tsunami of national media hyenas descending upon us for the kill. Buffoonery on ‘roids’ coming at us from pundits all over the country has been a national pastime since well before the Super Bowl years.
We know this, we expect it… and just like scar tissue is sometimes numb and unresponsive to stimulus, so are the hearts and souls of Bills and Sabres fans after years of the national media taking pot shots at our fan-hood. We suck it up and begin the next cycle of hope followed by despair.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
So we ‘soldier’ on, because that’s how we roll. Through good and bad we love our team like our favorite alcoholic Uncle. We want to believe they are going to get their act together… and they keep promising every year it’s going to be ‘this’ year… but they still show up drunk every Thanksgiving.
We may wish to divorce ourselves of the futility but we can’t help but be drawn back in… because after all, deep down inside we still love them.
The scar tissue Tasker referred to begins to form after a few of these cycles and after awhile it really doesn’t matter what the particulars are that brought down this or that head coach. The national ritual of Buffalo bashing no longer stings like it used to either, for a couple of reasons.
First, that scar tissue forms a wall around our fan-hood, and we literally don’t feel the pain after awhile. But more recently, the resurgence of the city of Buffalo has brought with it all the ammunition we need to hold our heads high and be “Talking Proud” like the city’s moniker from the 70s.
Buffalo is no longer a wasteland, and when anyone in the national media takes a swipe at the ‘Queen City’ they merely show their ignorance to the reality of what is taking place there. Having lived in the Rocky Mountain west for 30 years, I can assure you the national perception of Buffalo, though slow to change, is beginning to reflect its renaissance.
So I suggest we just keep rolling like we always have during this bleak period now approaching two decades in Buffalo sports history. Scar tissue or not… no matter what the details of the latest spectacular flame-out are… Rex, Rob, some of the players, whatever… the only thing that really matters is that we’re still standing and fighting for a reason to ‘BILLieve’.