20-16. The final whistle blew and Bills fans everywhere lost their minds. How the hell could they drop this game? They had caused 3 turnovers, had a long punt return, and looked to be the better team. They had just beaten two recent super bowl contenders: Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons. This was finally the year. The playoff drought would finally end.
Back to reality. The Bills are now 3-2. Finding themselves back in that never ending purgatory of the 7-9 to 9-7 range. Never bad enough to get a top draft pick, never good enough to make the playoffs. And yet, Bills fans keep coming back over and over again. It is a drug addiction. Bills fans can’t stay away. The high is way too good to stay away. And yet, the low is the lowest of the lows.
Depression, missed work, domestic abuse, fighting, anger, frustration, arrests, DWIs etc. Those are the reactions of Bills fans after a loss such as the one to the Bills on Sunday to the Bengals. Do those reactions sound familiar? That is because those are the same behaviors as drug addicts. You hear it all the time. And yet, as a society we condemn drug users as weak minded and place sole responsibility on them. “They deserve the prison sentence. It is their own damn fault they smoke crack.”
If we apply those same expectations on Buffalo sports fans, so many of us would be in prison serving life sentences. “There is no way that this is an addiction.” “I’m fine.” “Stop telling me what to do.” Each year, we refuse to look in the mirror and tell it like it is. This is an addiction, Buffalo. Until we are willing to admit that, we will not be able to treat the negative consequences of it. It’s time to do that Buffalo. Therapy, coping mechanisms, detox. These are all necessary steps for us. Calling the sports radio “Whiner Line” and venting is that method for a lot of people. And yet, sometimes that makes it worse. It only leads to more obsession, frustration, and anger.
Turn off the radio. Go for a hike. Do some meditation. Turn to healthy releases. Do not pick up that bottle, or abuse your wife or family, or skip work. Do not let this obsession control your life. Allow yourself to feel the highs of the wins, but do not get out of control. Be realistic. Think. Rationalize. What happens on the field is out of your control. Do not think for a second that your crazed obsession when you are screaming at the ref, players, and coaches on the TV have anything bearing on the outcome of the game.
“Control what you can control.” Some of the best advice I have ever been given. Do not let the things you cannot control, control you. The Buffalo Bills are not cursed. It is what it is. Things will most likely get better. But, in the mean time, take a good look in the mirror and see if your fandom is healthy. Is it positively to your life, or is it detrimental and toxic? Sports are meant to be fun. Allow yourself to have fun but do not let the negative energy control your life. You can feel disappointed and frustrated, but when it gets to the point that alcohol purchases and domestic abuse rise in Buffalo after a tough loss, it has gotten out of hand. Stay in control. Life goes on.
We can all come to grips with a loss and move on to the next game. On to the Buccaneers.
**Disclaimer: This was very tough to write. I admit I am addicted as anybody. But I’m working on it. My relationship with the Buffalo Bills is like a crack addiction. I am working on it, though. Thank the powers that be for bye weeks in the NFL. I look forward to enjoying my Sunday hiking and not thinking about the Bills.