I constantly see articles, lists, blurbs, excerpts, tweets, posts, people talking to me, people talking to other people and TV shows about how fan bases rank in the NFL. I’ve seen a few of these accurately list the Buffalo Bills fans and the Green Bay Packers fans near the top, but more often I’ve seen lazy articles written by people who have no idea what they’re talking about and rank the Bills fan base as the 28th best in the NFL. We in Buffalo don’t have much but we love our team, we love to support them and we love to go out on Sunday morning, regardless of the weather to eat good food, share laughs and drink some beers before we watch our favorite team play. My family and I go every Sunday, rain, snow or shine to celebrate the fact that we have a team, that we can cheer for this team and that we have an opportunity to witness history. My family and I have had season tickets for 3 years in section 117 and we have made some great friends within our section, enough that we get to share a special day between two individuals who sit in front of us later on this year. To most of us in Western New York, this isn’t just a fan base, it’s a family.
I am not ignorant enough to think that this doesn’t happen at any other stadium for any other team, not just in the NFL, nor will I state that these few things make us the best fans in the NFL. What I will go out and say is that we are a loud group of passionate people who collectively form the “12th Man” and each time we go into that stadium we can look up and see how important we are to the team because they honored each and every one of us by putting us on the Wall of Fame. We don’t need an engineered stadium built to make us sound louder, we don’t need lime green uniforms to make drunken college girls want to cheer for us and we don’t need the satisfaction of a list to tell us who we are.
With all that said, there can always be some improvements made to the overall game day experience. I know in my 27 years and 8 years of game experiences I am hardly an expert, but here are a few pointers that I came up with, and if you have any that I missed or any that can improve my game day experience, feel free to tweet them to me or comment at the bottom:
1. Tailgate Positively and Have Fun
You’re at a football game, there are going to be fans from the other team there. Deal with it. There’s nothing I hate more than our fans using drunken aggression as an excuse to get in people’s faces and swear at them loudly. My family and I generally give some friendly, playful “boos” to them as they walk by and you’d be shocked how many of them will actually stop and share some insight with you or ask questions about the game. Go there with an open mind, not to get into fights and prove how tough you are.
2. There’s a time to cheer, there’s a time to watch
This one is something that always irks me about our home games. The game is exciting, I get it. I get it more than anyone, trust me. When we are about to go for it on 3rd down or a 4th and 1… That is NOT the time to cheer as loud as we can. When the other team has the ball, yell as loud as you can and as often as you can. On 3rd down, bang the back of the chair in front of you and yell as loud as you can. On 3rd down you should be standing up, making as much noise as possible. When you see a QB touch his ears in our stadium, he can’t hear. When you see him do that, yell louder!
3. Bring $9, enjoy a Blue Light
The brand is very important on this one. After you’re completely ripped off buying a 16oz beer for $9, use your resources (by way of a creative girlfriend) to turn the paper cups that the Blue Light zone serves and make yourself a megaphone style cup to make your yell louder. This little trick has helped many a time save my voice for Monday morning, all while yelling the entire time that we are on defense.
4. Take that program your usher is giving out
I used to not want these, who cares, I know all the players, but this serves as an incredible game day utility. During stoppages of play keep yourself busy by tearing up the program into little pieces of confetti and keep them in your pocket or in an empty beer cup that you’re not using as a megaphone (as that has no bottom and it wouldn’t work). When the Bills score a touchdown and make you “wanna shout” start throwing that confetti around, or throw it at annoying people in your section. It’s just paper.
5. Don’t take this too seriously
Remember, football is a game. We are fans and they are the athletes. I get so upset when I see idiots swearing after a loss, trying to fight a fan of the other team or people complaining about our coaches and players. At the end of the day it’s a game and there is no reason why people’s lives should be put in danger because you take it too seriously. Just go, watch the game, cheer for your team and leave the stadium )win, lose or draw) as a humble person who just did everything they could do to help their team get the advantage.
Any tips I may have missed? Let me know!