Column: Let me be a fan for a moment
By: Nick Wojton
Whenever someone asks me about my childhood, for some reason, I have the worst memory. Maybe too many Blue Lights since then.
But there’s one memory that sticks out, it occurred on January 8, 2000. The Music City Miracle.
It’s my first sports memory. Growing up as a native western New Yorker in Niagara Falls, NY, I remember watching that game in the living room with my dad.
I walked away from the TV before a late kickoff. The game was over. Then, disaster. I ended up on the edge of my parents’ bed upstairs watching the replays on the television.
Mom had just said “It ain’t over, till it’s over.” She referenced how many times she’d watch my brother or I, both hockey goalies, let in late goals against us. Mom’s foreshadowing turned into her telling my dad to calm down and stop swearing at the TV. The forward lateral had just occurred, after all.
I had no idea what that day would mean. It was the start of 17 seasons of missing the playoffs. Now a cold-hearted media member, I once felt fuzzy feelings about sports and witnessed a lot of them in person as a paying customer.
I saw JP Losman’s long completion to Lee Evans on the opening drive of his first-career start in Orchard Park. It was bomb down the right sideline. Looking at the play-by-play, it was for 42 yards and the Bills, naturally, settled for a field goal on that drive.
I saw the Kevin Everett game. I saw the Monday Night debacle against Dallas. The list goes on.
Then I became a writer. You root from afar when you’re out of the market, like when you’re covering the Oswego State Lakers for the Palladium-Times in Oswego, NY. As fate would have it, I’m now writing this as a member of the western New York media covering the Bills.
It’s been pretty easy for me to put my fandom aside. I picked this team to go 4-12 this year. I don’t think any fan would do that. But I do remember what it was like sitting in those stands, but I also know it runs much deeper than that and I feel that one select type of fan deserves a shout.
My peers. I’m 27. I remember that infamous day in early January of 2000. Not everyone currently in their 20’s or 30’s does. Even if some do, they never remember the Bills as a winner.
They were probably like me. Having friends in high school who jumped ship to other teams, even the rival Dolphins, and making fun of me for sticking to my guns.
Some of them probably went away to college, too. Picking SUNY Oswego as my college was the best decision I’ve ever made, but not for my physique as a Buffalo fan. I have some great friends from downstate New York, but dammit did they ever rub my nose in those Giant Super Bowls and yearly Jet wins over the Bills.
Sure, shout out to the old timers, too. I wouldn’t have been a Bills fan if my dad wasn’t. They paved the way. But you had your glory years and Super Bowl runs. Those of us in this cursed generation haven’t.
There was nothing. Until now.
If you’re jumping on the bandwagon now, saying you’ve always been a Bills fan when you weren’t, kudos. Join the ranks. There’s always room. Better late than never.
I was going to look up stuff like the team’s record during the drought, I was going to list off names like Chan Gailey, Drew Bledsoe, and Doug Whaley. But for who this story is intended for, I don’t need to.
No small-grouping of names will fully encompass the struggle you went through. But you did it. You made it. Drink it in, puff out your chest, and enjoy every minute of it.
And make sure you let those Giant and Jet fans have it this week.