Wednesday, September 26, 2007
That's what I enter into when I travel to the Bills' away games. I always find myself surrounded by the minions of opposing fans who cheer when our guys don't play well, who get hostile and beligerent when they find out who I'm cheering for, etc. I have this horrible fear that I will have this same feeling this weekend when the Bills take on the Jets, AT HOME!!!!
The fans here in Buffalo are mad. They are just devastated that the Bills are 0-3 to start the season. Many on the fan boards are calling this team the worst team in NFL history (ouch). You know, if this team hadn't been decimated by injuries during the first three weeks of the season, if we were playing with a full deck of cards and still playing horribly, then I'd be concerned. But this team had to watch one of their teammates lay motionless on the turf after a spinal cord injury during game one of the season - no doubt each and every one of them questioned their own mortality, knowing that it could've been them lying there on the ground. The team's young but emerging defense has been slaughtered by injuries - numerous starters have already been put on season-ending injured-reserve while others suffered injuries that would keep them off the field for weeks, months even. I know these guys - their hearts are in this game and every single play they are out there on the field, they are giving it their all. But the emotional and physical rollercoaster they've been on only four weeks into the season would devastate any team.
I understand and can empathize with fan frustrations. I want to win too! For me, it may even be a little worse because I deal with the consequences of how the season is progressing every time Ryan comes home. His body aches - he's on the field more now having to fill in for other guys who've been injured. He's mentally exhausted from having to deal with losing teammates and taking on new assignments. He misses Kevin. For Ryan, football is his life and it's hard to just leave his emotions on the field.
Hostile territory - I wonder if it's coming. I'm almost sure it is. During our first home game after Kevin was injured, I listened as our own fans used the most profane language towards this team. They wondered why the guys fell apart there towards the end. I have few ideas why. And that was game one. What happens now as the Bills come home after losing two more games and starting the season 0-3 with fans calling for people to wear paper bags over their heads as a sign of discontent? What happens when our rookie quarterback has to get out there for only his second NFL game because our starter was also injured in last week's game? Will people boo if he's not perfect?
My plea is for the all-important 12th man to show up this weekend. If this team needs anything right now, it's the support of the crowd and the fans in the stadium. No doubt the Jets will represent here - they always do. We need to cheer louder for this team than ever before. The 12th man will make the difference in this game. I BILLieve in this team - do you????