Niagara Gazette

Bills

September 23, 2012

Fair-weather fans must stick out the season

COMMENTARY

ORCHARD PARK —  

I took a detour into Ralph Wilson Stadium last Sunday, circling out of the docile media parking area and strolling through the taligate party in the camper lot.

Without an ounce of alcohol in my blood, it felt like I had entered a Mad Max dystopia.

Grown men marinating in sweat and booze, wearing faded Zubaz and tattered jerseys with another man's name on the back, rejected my appearance in their shanty town.

I wore my Sunday best. They glared and blitzed insults.

“Nice tie, loser.”

“Gomez, your dad looks lost.”

“You know you’re at a Bills game right?”

I smiled and informed them I was there for work.

“Work this mother ...”

Unable to find my friends because they were too preoccupied by a man covering himself in condiments to answer their phones, I made my way back to friendlier confines in the press box.

As we passed through security, a fellow sporstwriter noted that during the Bills glory days, fans would start camping out in the lot on Wednesday and proceed with the debauchery all the way up until kickoff.

As I sat in my seat and watched the stadium fill up, the drunks filing in last, I shook my head at the realization that this particular group of fans were so crucial to the survival of the Buffalo Bills

With all the fretting these past two weeks over injuries, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s glut of interceptions and Mario Williams’ lack of sacks, more worrisome developments have gone somewhat ignored.

Ralph Wilson’s declining health, stalled negotiations on a new stadium lease and Toronto punting away their bi-annual preseason game are all bad omens for the Bills future.

But worst of all was the Buffalo News report that team officials don’t expect to sell out as many as four late-season home games.

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