The Book of Job asks, “Why do the righteous suffer?” And the answer is, “Because they just do.”
But throughout the past 17 years, this never helped me make sense of the Buffalo Bills’ playoff drought.
Growing up a fan of Buffalo sports teams was the greatest lesson in humility that I could have ever received. The last time the Bills made the playoffs, I was in kindergarten, my house did not yet have the internet and I didn’t know what the F-word was. How times have changed since then.
As a 21st century Bills fan, the F-word does not only become a staple of your vocabulary but somehow a part of almost every fiber of your being. Blurting it out in rage on Sunday becomes involuntary, and we are all sorry for that. The amount of “Our Father” recitations we owe for various misbehaviors is likely in the trillions.
Season after season of the Bills continuously finding new and creative ways to suck was just too much to bear at times. Misery was no stranger to the Joseph household from September to January, and some years were so bleak that I’d shudder at the sight of a football. “The Bills make me want to shout” began to take on new meanings.
Still, as you know, my family and I, and many fellow fans, remained pessimistically enthusiastic about our boys in blue.
The same fans who would yell “Tom Brady sits when he pees” in the stadium parking lot on game day undoubtedly lay awake many a night contemplating changing their names and moving to Boston themselves in search of a better life.
“Minor drinking problem” became nothing more than a symptom for many of the fine people of Western New York. But ultimately, the fan base’s loyalty did not waver.
Years went by, and the blue-collar workers of Buffalo worked their fingers to the bone, for what? For a losing football team? Most wondered, “Why, God? Why? What is all this about?”
On the final day of 2017, you answered our prayers. The Bengals defeated the Ravens with a late, game-winning touchdown on fourth-and-long to clinch the final wild card spot for the Bills, and it was glorious.
Family members embraced. My mother wept. Finally, enough teams sucked more than we did, and we’d contend in the postseason again.
The attitude among fans during the week leading up to Wild Card Weekend was unlike anything we’d previously experienced this millennium. Bills fans celebrated like the team had just won the Super Bowl.
Weddings were rescheduled. Funerals were put off until Monday. The game was all anyone could think about.
The Bills, of all teams, had even accrued “bandwagon” fans, who were welcomed with open arms. I questioned if I had choked on a chicken wing during the previous game and gone to heaven. That, however, did not make sense to me for a few reasons.
Anyway, that Sunday, after about three hours of something that loosely resembled a professional football game, the excitement in Buffalo ended. However, our gratitude has not.
Our plight has not been for the faint-of-heart, but at least it’s over now. On behalf of all Bills fans, I’d like to say that we learned a valuable lesson not only in humility, but also faith.