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What Makes the Mafia Special?


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This is an honest question.  The Bills' fanbase is different.  Players often say we have the best fans in the league and I think they sincerely believe it.  Though players on other teams sometimes say the same thing.  

 

Of course, there's no way to measure fandom.  You can't use attendance because it's easier to fill up a stadium in city with a metro population of 10 million versus one with 1 million.  And a team that wins is usually going to sell more tickets than a team that loses (To our credit, Bills fans show up despite an all-time losing record).   And you can't use season tickets because it's easier to sell them in a city full of millionaires versus a city where people struggle to get by.  So how do you create a metric for fandom that includes not only attendance, but gear worn, cheering volume, fan loyalty, snowmen built, tables smashed, tears shed, and everything else that goes into it? 

 

You can't.  Still, as someone who's spent time in most NFL cities, I remain convinced we have the best fans in the NFL.  But why?

 

I've been driving around the San Francisco Bay Area this Super Bowl week and I've seen 49er gear being worn and flags being flown.  But it seems I see less of that stuff than I'd see in Buffalo on a typical game-day weekend.  And then I thought about demographics.  Barely half of San Franciscans speak English at home.  A third of San Franciscans were born in another country.  Two-thirds were born out-of-state.  San Jose/Santa Clara (the new home of the 49ers) is even more diverse.  Some of these folks might be casual bandwagon 49er fans but they didn't grow up rooting for the 9ers and they don't bleed team colors like you and I do. 

 

Many growing NFL cities are very cosmopolitan with transient populations that don't build up intense team loyalties.  I think that's part of the explanation why Bills fans are different.  But I don't think that's the whole story.  What would you add?  

 

 

 

 

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The Bills are now the top dog in terms of heartbreaking losses & disappointment.  There really isn't another team that matches us in that regard - we have so many losses that have names most sports fans recognize

 

And we've gotten more fiercely loyal over the years.  Far from giving up, most of us are even more committed, and proud to be Bills fans.

 

And there is something about the nature of the city.  Small market nestled in the far reaches of western NY, which is buried in snow for good portions of the year.  The Bills are THE main attraction.  That's just not the case with larger markets.

 

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I think Buffalo is the perfect combination of being a small town with a decent size metropolitan areas to support it. And then you have another one to the East in Rochester. And you have the upper class to the North so I think we have a lot of regional support with that small town feel. Then you have so many people over the years (about the size of the city of Buffalo’s current population) that moved away and planted roots around the country and I’m sure over the last 60 years has grown exponentially. And the fact that we were once a big city and now are small, we have that chip on our shoulder. And the Bills are kind of our megaphone and our only lifeline. 
 

Our Super Bowl rn in the 90s I’m sure collected a lot of fans nationally, and the fact that we have Josh Allen . 
 

in a nut shell I think its just genuine hardcore fandom that comes in waves and other place might not have that as much because they have more attractions in their cities.

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The misery. The ‘band of brothers’ bond over disappointment. I don’t know if it will ever ever be washed out, even by two decades of success. There will probably always be those of us around that have had our hearts ripped out, and know the feeling of it being replaced by more and more heartache. 

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Football simply means more to people from the Great Lakes, Pennsylvania and westward through the plains towards Texas. Maybe Denver & Seattle are the exception (great fans there as well). Yes, Bills fans are dedicated, but like you say, "best fans" can't really be measured. Lots of crazed fanbases out there.

 

The south is more about college football, but I can see that changing eventually as the NCAA is committing suicide with NIL. 

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altruistic giving for the good of mankind regardless of team affiliation as a show of class and HUGE Heart.

 

THAT makes our fanbase unique and beyond special. Amongst other things.

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19 minutes ago, LeGOATski said:

Nothing. It's just another group of fans.

 

When I attend Bills games on the road, it’s clear that it’s more than that. We can take over another team’s stadium. Don’t compare Bills fans with either of the Falcons fans. I live in Atlanta, and the Falcons are merely an afterthought here. Football fans in the south are 99% interested in COLLEGE football. 

 

Every market, and every fanbase has its own flavor. 

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What makes our fan base special is that our team breaks our heart EVERY SINGLE SEASON. Yet, we are still their ride and die - come hell or high water. Our loyalty never wavers, despite the fact that we know that we are Charlie Brown and Lucy is always going to move that damn ball. 
 

Inexplicably, we convince ourselves that maybe, surely this will be our year. And when we end up flat on our backs, we dust ourselves off and believe all over again. It’s both sad and adorable all at once.

 

charlie brown lucy GIF by Maudit

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We care more than every other fan base.  It hurts us more when the season ends.  We feel it differently than other fan bases around the league.  We will carry losses, not only from the previous season until the following year starts, but horrible gut wrenching losses from season's pass that just keep adding to each other.  Heck, we carry the 4 Super Bowl losses around like they happened yesterday.  I think we will continue to do this until we actually win a Super Bowl. 

 

The Mafia is family.  We go out of our way to help others.  Whether it is finding the positive in the negatives through donations, shoveling and plowing out player's homes so they can get to the stadium to play a game (or catch a flight to another stadium to play a game when the city is shut down), or just having the wildest and most welcoming tailgate scene in the world for both Bills fans and opposing team's fans.

 

We're built different and it shows......not only to our own fans, but cities and fans of other teams see it too.  There's more to it, but that is the CliffsNotes of it all.

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3 hours ago, hondo in seattle said:

This is an honest question.  The Bills' fanbase is different.  Players often say we have the best fans in the league and I think they sincerely believe it.  Though players on other teams sometimes say the same thing.  

 

Of course, there's no way to measure fandom.  You can't use attendance because it's easier to fill up a stadium in city with a metro population of 10 million versus one with 1 million.  And a team that wins is usually going to sell more tickets than a team that loses (To our credit, Bills fans show up despite an all-time losing record).   And you can't use season tickets because it's easier to sell them in a city full of millionaires versus a city where people struggle to get by.  So how do you create a metric for fandom that includes not only attendance, but gear worn, cheering volume, fan loyalty, snowmen built, tables smashed, tears shed, and everything else that goes into it? 

 

You can't.  Still, as someone who's spent time in most NFL cities, I remain convinced we have the best fans in the NFL.  But why?

 

I've been driving around the San Francisco Bay Area this Super Bowl week and I've seen 49er gear being worn and flags being flown.  But it seems I see less of that stuff than I'd see in Buffalo on a typical game-day weekend.  And then I thought about demographics.  Barely half of San Franciscans speak English at home.  A third of San Franciscans were born in another country.  Two-thirds were born out-of-state.  San Jose/Santa Clara (the new home of the 49ers) is even more diverse.  Some of these folks might be casual bandwagon 49er fans but they didn't grow up rooting for the 9ers and they don't bleed team colors like you and I do. 

 

Many growing NFL cities are very cosmopolitan with transient populations that don't build up intense team loyalties.  I think that's part of the explanation why Bills fans are different.  But I don't think that's the whole story.  What would you add?  

 

 

 

 


Nothing is particularly special. Pro teams have varying levels of fan loyalty. A lot of things go into that - demographics, age and history of the franchise, brand recognition, local entertainment options. Buffalo has a very strong fanbase. But so do a number of other franchises. There’s nothing “special” about it and mythologizing it is a completely silly and juvenile thing to do.

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1 hour ago, JoPoy88 said:


Nothing is particularly special. Pro teams have varying levels of fan loyalty. A lot of things go into that - demographics, age and history of the franchise, brand recognition, local entertainment options. Buffalo has a very strong fanbase. But so do a number of other franchises. There’s nothing “special” about it and mythologizing it is a completely silly and juvenile thing to do.

I think it’s a heck of a lot more than silly and juvenile.   Somewhere between “so do a number of other franchises” and “nothing special” lies a wonderful camaraderie unique to Buffalo and recognized nationwide that isn’t “completely silly and juvenile.”

 

There is a myopia, it seems to me, in Buffalo that doesn’t allow its citizens to see some unique opportunities for pure joy associated with living in the 716 and following the Bills.

 

Everything is particularly special.   I can say that and recognize other fans have their charms, too.

 

I can tell you fans in Florida, the Carolinas, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas and California certainly think The Mafia is special.  SEC fans, especially, recognize a kinship.  I have colleagues in NFL cities from Miami, Jacksonville, Houston, New Orleans and Dallas.  We touch all the SEC and most of the ACC.   THOSE are fan bases.   Our group texts are Geaux Tigers, Go Gators, Roll Tide, War Eagle, Hottie Tottie, and Go Bills.

 

Lastly, I was in Miami January 7.    Try telling that crowd the Mafia’s not particularly special.   

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27 minutes ago, Neo said:

I think it’s a heck of a lot more than silly and juvenile.   Somewhere between “so do a number of other franchises” and “nothing special” lies a wonderful camaraderie unique to Buffalo and recognized nationwide that isn’t “completely silly and juvenile.”

 

There is a myopia, it seems to me, in Buffalo that doesn’t allow its citizens to see some unique opportunities for pure joy associated with living in the 716 and following the Bills.

 

Everything is particularly special.   I can say that and recognize other fans have their charms, too.

 

I can tell you fans in Florida, the Carolinas, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas and California certainly think The Mafia is special.  SEC fans, especially, recognize a kinship.  I have colleagues in NFL cities from Miami, Jacksonville, Houston, New Orleans and Dallas.  We touch all the SEC and most of the ACC.   THOSE are fan bases.   Our group texts are Geaux Tigers, Go Gators, Roll Tide, War Eagle, Hottie Tottie, and Go Bills.

 

Lastly, I was in Miami January 7.    Try telling that crowd the Mafia’s not particularly special.   


I’m glad you brought up comparisons to die hard SEC fanbases. They and other college program fanbases are the type of ravenous fans akin to the Bills’. And that was basically my point. Considering Bills’ fans as particularly “special” is the actual myopic view. They’re very very loyal and passionate. That’s great! It’s also not that unique or special. Thinking so is just tribalist bias.

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30 minutes ago, Neo said:

I can tell you fans in Florida, the Carolinas, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas and California certainly think The Mafia is special.  SEC fans, especially, recognize a kinship.  I have colleagues in NFL cities from Miami, Jacksonville, Houston, New Orleans and Dallas.  We touch all the SEC and most of the ACC.   THOSE are fan bases.   Our group texts are Geaux Tigers, Go Gators, Roll Tide, War Eagle, Hottie Tottie, and Go Bills.

 

Lastly, I was in Miami January 7.    Try telling that crowd the Mafia’s not particularly special.   

 

There's a lot to that.  NYS has chased out so many of its former residents over abusive taxes, that so many of us now reside elsewhere, which creates a sort of camaraderie above-and-beyond a normal regional one.  

 

 

6 hours ago, Success said:

The Bills are now the top dog in terms of heartbreaking losses & disappointment.  There really isn't another team that matches us in that regard - we have so many losses that have names most sports fans recognize

 

And we've gotten more fiercely loyal over the years.  Far from giving up, most of us are even more committed, and proud to be Bills fans.

 

Agreed, and what contributes to that is having been so close four times straight in the '90s that we can all taste it, still, at least those of us that were around for that and back when more of us were in WNY.  

 

 

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14 minutes ago, JoPoy88 said:


I’m glad you brought up comparisons to die hard SEC fanbases. They and other college program fanbases are the type of ravenous fans akin to the Bills’. And that was basically my point. Considering Bills’ fans as particularly “special” is the actual myopic view. They’re very very loyal and passionate. That’s great! It’s also not that unique or special. Thinking so is just tribalist bias.

Well, it became your point after I posted.

 

Your original point that it’s not special isn’t’ diminished by others that, too, are special.  It’s the usage of “silly and juvenile” in your original post that inspired mine.

 

If I understand where you are now, you’ve gone to not unique among the most ravenous fans in the world from nothing special, silly and juvenile.   If the Bills could move goal posts like you did, we’d be playing tonight.

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