In light of the World Cup being on and real football being in the offseason, I decided to reach out to one of my favorite Twitter friends Stephen Culley (@StephenCulley) for some insight into the views of a fan on the other side of the pond. Stephen is not only a fan of the Buffalo Bills but he always has something interesting to add in any football discussion and knows a lot about the sport, which is crazy for someone who grew up watching and playing soccer. I reached out to him via twitter with some questions about how he found himself cheering for this particular sport that isn’t yet overly popular in Europe and more importantly, how he found his way into cheering for the Buffalo Bills:
Mike: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, just wanted to start off by asking, are you able to catch all of the football games live? What time do the games come on in your neck of the woods?
Stephen: Last season was the first year I got to watch every snap. I stopped being cheap and using illegal feeds and actually paid for GamePass. I’ve managed to watch or listen to every game since the start of the 2008 season. The slightly selfish ‘benefit’ of the Bills lack of success means that most games are at a reasonable viewing hour. Most games start at 6pm local time but not even primetime games at 1am stop me watching.
Mike: That’s awesome. Hopefully with flex-scheduling we can win some games and have a few more prime time games, but for your sake that works out well. So who is your favorite player on the Buffalo Bills?
Stephen: It’s hard not be excited about Sammy Watkins. It was such a bold move to trade up and get him. It’s not just his skill set that excites me, it’s the attitude behind the scenes of wanting someone and making it happen. Hopefully he’s more than just a great receiver for us but a sign of a culture change. No pressure there, Sammy!
Mike: So then why the Buffalo Bills? I mean, you basically live in another world and we aren’t exactly the sexiest team out there, what made you choose the Bills, was it the fact that we are red, white and blue and you’re scared of those colors because of what happened in 1776?
Stephen: Not exactly… When I was 18, I fell in love with someone who was from Niagara Falls. It started off as simple geographical convenience but, as I learnt the history of the Bills, it quickly turned into a bigger love affair than I could’ve imagined. Bills fans have become part of my extended family.
Mike: Oh. Do you have any friends that are interested in the sport?
Stephen: I don’t have any Bills fans in my social group, unless Twitter counts, but the support for the NFL in the UK has grown massively in the past few years. Not so long ago, I only knew 2 people that had an interest in the game; a Raiders fan and a Chargers fan, and now we’ve sold out 3 games at Wembley selling a total of 250,000 tickets.
Mike: That’s pretty sweet because SummerSlam ’92 was in Wembley stadium, which was awesome. I was 6. So what got you into real football then?
Stephen: I bought myself a cheap copy of Madden 07 because it was a bit different to the games I used to play and I was hooked pretty quickly. I know it’ll do me no favours in admitting this but I learnt the basics of football just from playing Madden!
Mike: And how about soccer?
Stephen: I’ve played ‘proper football’ since I was a little kid. I was a pretty mean goalkeeper once upon a time but I stopped playing because I got fat and lazy. I support the mighty Stockport County in the 6th tier of the English leagues and I expect a fan base set up in Buffalo sooner rather than later.
Mike: (For the benefit of our readers, by “proper football” he means soccer) I can see what I can do about the Stockport County fan base here, but that’s looking like a big “mmmprollynot”. That brings me to my next question, why are your phone numbers so weird? ‘What is this, a phone number or a math problem’ am I right?
Stephen: There’s a reason that the spin off group from Blink 182 was called +44 and that’s because everything to do with UK phone numbers is amazing and super cool. You guys feel free to stick with 1-800-GOT2SUE or whatever you use though because that’s adorable.
Mike: I’m extremely confused by your response but when it comes to music I tend to just agree so people don’t think I’m lame. So then what’s the deal with warm beer? That’s really weird.
Stephen: We’ve acquired a taste for things that nobody else will drink as a form of defending our borders. If we had amazing beer to go with our beautiful climate and stunning women, we’d never get rid of the tourists.
Mike: I’m fairly certain people are still staying out of your country because they’re scared of Mad Cow disease.
Stephen: We blame Mad Cow disease on the French.
Mike: Well no one wants to go there either, so maybe if you start taking credit for Mad Cow you can start drinking your beer at a more reasonable temperature and enjoy it… What are your thoughts on the following; Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, Aliens and is Tupac still alive?
Stephen: If you paid attention to the Simpsons, you’d know that Mr Burns has Nessie and that Aberdeen rules. As for the aliens, we used the skills of World War 2 tunnel diggers to go behind the Atlantic Ocean and stole one from Area 51. We raised him and called him Daniel Day Lewis. Nobody human could be that good.
Mike: Good point, I’ll assume your take is that Tupac and Bigfoot are definitely working on an album together, which I agree with completely. Side note I have no idea who Daniel Day Lewis is but the three of them should relax. So Disney movies generally portray the bad guy as having an English accent, are you an evil person?
Stephen: It’s a common misconception simply because Hollywood confuses class and sophistication as some kind of voodoo. I hate to ruin the illusion that we’ve worked for generations to master, but we’re a lovely nation of gentlemen.
Mike: That sounds like the start of an evil plot. So I was thinking of taking Mayhem Monday international. Do you think if you wrote an English version that it would be 10 times funnier, or does that only work when America takes shows like The Office and make them really funny compared to the original? Like does it not work both ways?
Stephen: I’d like to think that I’m a funny guy but I would never be able to surpass your works of art. Mayhem Monday has become a staple part of being a Bills fan and I’m not sure Kiko would suit a top hat and a monocle. Steve Carell didn’t have to work hard to make Ricky Gervais seem unfunny but you would be setting the bar far too high for the likes of me. You can keep taking our not-funny comedies and making them viable, just keep your hands off us winning the 1966 World Cup.
Mike: To quote Nicolas Cage, that’s high praise. I don’t think you have to worry about the 1966 World Cup thing because I was -20 years old and I have no idea what you’re talking about, I’ll Google it later. One last question before we wrap up: What is your prediction for the Bills record this season?
Stephen: I’m always the optimistic type but this year feels like it really could be the start of something. The best case scenario sees EJ play all 16 games and the moves to strengthen the run defense make a real difference. I’ll stick my neck out and say 10-6.
I’d like to thank Stephen Culley for taking the time to answer some of my questions and help us understand his people and how we aren’t that different. Everyone be sure to follow Stephen on twitter @StephenCulley he’s a great follow!