You don't choose who you fall in love with.
Sometimes you see someone, and you know that they are bad news. You can't help but look at them and want them. You know that they will cause you nothing but heartache, and yet you latch onto them with your entire being.
Twenty years ago the Buffalo Bills made me love them, and like the song says, I didn't want to do it. The 1988 Bills are the defining moment of my passage from childhood to adolescence. The 1990 Bills were the Greatest Football Team I've Ever Seen. The 1992 Super Bowl Team defined gallantry in the face of defeat. The 1998 team personafied never giving up. And every team since then has given me nothing but an empty gut.
They did it to me again this evening. The Bills were up on the vaunted Dallas Cowboys, and had the game practically won. And they blew it. I wasn't surprised, I half expected it. Yet the fact that they played so well for 59 minutes and 58 seconds, only to come up short to an undeserving team ... well it's the microcosm of all Buffalo fans really.
They pull us in, so close to something beautiful, then rip our hearts out of our chest with no mercy. They don't mean to do it. They love us back, they really do. But they can't help but to make our lives miserable.
I could tempt hyperbole and say that tonight's loss was one of the 10 most painful losses in Bills history, but it seems that they have at least 2-3 of those losses every year. Two to three of those losses times 20 years equals a lot of heartache.
There was so much to be proud of tonight: the swelling, raucous crowd that never sat down. The George Wilson INT for a touchdown. Chris Kelsay's TD for a touchdown. Forcing 6 turnovers on Golden Boy Tony Romo. Holding Terrell Owens to 2 catches for a pittance. Terrance McGee's 103-yard kick return for a TD. This had all the makings of an inspired night. But deep down, we all knew better.
Even though I know this team isn't really going anywhere this year, it would have been a defining win for this shaky franchise. Instead, we walk away disappointed and saddened, yet again.
I am a patient boy. I have spent the last two decades living and dying with this rotating group of gentlemen, who have little in common other than the color of the laundry on their backs and the charging, streaking bison on their helmets. But this loss was especially hard to stomach.
Driving home from my friends' house where I watched the game, I felt a sense of despair. I actually felt a very real, deep sadness. Is that good or bad? Does it mean that I have lost perspective? Or does it mean that the team to which I've grown to become numb, has grabbed me again and made me actually risk caring about them again? I don't know the answer because I don't know the future.
I have put in my time. These boys know what has to be done. Whether they can get it done anytime within my fourth decade on earth remains to be seen. I don't give up on them easily, but God do they make it hard sometimes.
For a brief moment, it felt like things would start to feel good again, even if for a short period of time. But reality came crashing down. My only hope is that some day I will know the feeling of satisfaction again. Of happiness. Of hope. To rely on 53 millionaire athletes who've never met me to supply this feeling is probably too much to ask. But Goddammit, it's a start.