SEATTLE, Wash. — The groan was unmistakable, one you’d recognize at Dwyer’s Pub in NT, Danny Sheehan’s in Lockport or while sipping cabernet at Wine on Third in the Falls.
But as Jay Feely was rotating his own personal highlight reel by kicking a 61-yard field goal that smacked Bills’ fans in their collective jaw and tying Sunday’s game in the waning moments, I was sitting among two dozen downtrodden members of the Seattle Bills Backers group in the trendy neighborhood of South Lake Union.
Most of the screens at Jillian’s, where the group meets every Sunday for a dose of weekly torture, were tuned to the Seahawks and Patriots, and fittingly so since it was probably the day’s best game. But then there was my posse, a group I’d never met yet felt I shared so much with.
Among the Doug Flutie, Jeff Posey and Jack Kemp jerseys was Lockport native Andy Matteliano, co-president of the club, and the obvious mouthpiece for the bunch. When the offense first took the field, Matteliano got a group snicker by yelling “C’mon Fitz ... just be average!” He later bemoaned the use of Brad Smith, asked why the team neglects to run even though it bites off big chunks nearly each time it does, and joked about the defense finally playing up to its preseason accolades.
In other words, even though Matteliano left Western New York when he was in elementary school, he sounded just like whoever you sat through Sunday’s roller-coaster ride with.
Since I left the B-Lo about a month ago — my sights on a return move to Arizona, but taking my time and soaking up the marvel of this country along the way — the Bills have been the thing that connects me to home. After working for the Tonawanda News and Niagara Gazette for nearly a decade, attending Bills games in a professional capacity, I can swap painful stories with the best of ‘em. Still, I find time to tune in on Sundays, listen to the John Murphy Show via podcast, and flip through stories on all the local websites. The Bills dominate my conversations with family members, and I swapped plenty of texts with buddies who were at the game on Sunday.