Let’s Go Buffalo!

I’ve been a Miami Dolphins fan all my life.

My earliest memory of watching football was cheering for Dan Marino against Joe Montana and the 49ers in Super Bowl XIX. I remember staying up way past my bedtime on a school night to watch them beat the Bears on Monday Night Football in ’85, ending the Bears’ quest for a perfect season. I remember being crushed when the Bills beat them at home in the ’93 AFC Championship game, Marino’s last real chance to get back to the Super Bowl. Even after Marino’s retirement, and through the subsequent decade and a half of mediocrity, I’ve remained a loyal fan.

Which is why I can hardly believe the words I’m about to type.

With the start of the 2015 season I am turning the page on my affiliation with the Miami Dolphins and beginning a new chapter as a fan of the Buffalo Bills. This decision hasn’t been made over night. It’s actually something I’ve been wrestling with for the better part of a decade, and have only recently reached my tipping point.

Here are my reasons for making the change.

Miami fans are pretty much the worst. Ever watch a Dolphins game on TV? Were you able to see any action through the glare of 60,000 bright orange empty seats? It’s a well known fact that Miami fans are the worst when it comes to supporting their teams. The Marlins average the fourth worst attendance in all of Major League Baseball. Heat ticket prices have dropped 31% since LeBron moved back to Cleveland. I hate that my favorite NFL team is from Teal Vegas.

It’s nearly impossible for me to watch a game. This has always been the case, but even more so since the Dolphins started sucking. In the good old days, I could count on 5-8 nationally televised games per season. It was just enough so it wasn’t so bad following an out-of-market team. Now I get to see two, maybe three games a year tops. So if I want to watch my team I have to drop $30 at a sports bar or mooch off a friend’s DirecTV package. Screw that. I’m tired of having to go out of my way to follow my team.

Fergie owns my team. OK, she’s only a part owner, along with Gloria Estefan, Marc Anthony, and Venus and Serena Williams. But do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to root for a team owned by a member of the Black Eyed Peas?! Their least talented member at that?! The Dolphins board meetings look like an episode of The Apprentice. And don’t even get me started with the team’s business relationship with America’s creepy uncle, Jimmy Buffett.

The Bills are Western NY’s team. I love Western NY. I love Western NY so much I get offended when people refer to us as “Upstate.” I’m loyal to WNY grocers, eat only WNY hot dogs, consider Buffalo wings my spirit animal, and almost exclusively drink regional beers. The Bills are WNY’s football team. Their training camp takes place 10 miles form my house. I should have been a Bills fan from day one. I actually regret hating the Bills so much in the past that I’ve completely missed out on such a large part of our regional culture for all these years.

The Pegula family deserves my support. One of the reasons I was hesitant to make this move a few years ago was my concern over the future of the Bills. There would be nothing worse than adopting a new team and then having them move to another city in a few years. But those fears are gone now that Terry and Kim Pegula have purchased the team. Not only have they saved the Bills, but they’ve secured the future of the Sabres and Rochester Americans as well. Ralph Wilson was loyal to death to WNY and deserved my support then. The Pegula family is equally committed to our region and I’d be proud to help provide a return on their investment by supporting their team(s). Plus, I simply love the fact that Kim Pegula is the one running the franchise. I think it’s great that an Asian woman is a member of the oldest and boyest of old boys clubs.

I’ve been following the Bills my entire life. Even though I’ve made a career out of hating on the Buffalo Bills, truth be told I’ve always had a soft spot for the team. It’s hard not to when every local newscast, sports talk show, water cooler conversation, kids birthday party and church service is peppered with Bills talk. I know all about the heartbreak of “wide right.” I remember “the comeback.” I was there for “home run throwback.” I’ve been there for the big moments, good and bad. I’ve even tailgated at “The Ralph” a couple times. I’ve practically grown up with this team. They really ought to be my favorite.

I’m sure I’ll get my share of crap for making the switch. There will be those who will say I’m not “a real fan,” or that I’m a traitor. It’s OK. I get it. This has been a very calculated and difficult decision on my part. It’s hard to let go of something that’s been a part of your life for so long, even if it’s as trivial as football. At least I can hang my hat on the fact that it was a conscious decision based reasoning and not some emotional crutch I’ve been clinging to since childhood that brought me to this point.

Saying this is going to feel really weird for a while, but here goes … Let’s Go Buffalo!