The Buffalo Bills have made the Playoffs for the first time since 1999.
With a win over Miami and a loss by Baltimore, the Buffalo Bills have clinched their first playoff berth since 1999. This piece is a first-person reaction from SQ NFL Writer and Editor and long-time Bills fan, Andy Narotsky.
In 1999, I was in Mrs. Fernandez’s class learning how to read. That class was all in all a good time - we had a reading nook with bean bags and we got to play Zoombinis a few times a week. By nature, kindergarten encourages a lot of firsts for students — for me it was reading, counting to 100, and learning how to cut holes in the middle of paper without destroying the whole thing. I also distinctly remember learning about the new year. I remember it so well because this wasn’t just any new year, she explained. This was 2000: The New Millennium. It felt like a lucky time to be a six-year-old.
As I sat on the rainbow carpet that December morning, I wanted to capture more of those entropic moments. I wanted more unique experiences that only I and a small cohort could say, “I experienced that first hand and it was awesome.”
Naturally, Y2K was markedly less exciting than it had been sold and I stopped focusing on that attraction and instead worried about a much bigger one: The Buffalo Bills playoff game.
At this stage, I really didn’t know anything about football except that I loved the Bills. My dad and two older brothers loved the Bills, and so I obviously also loved them. I watched when I could, but youthful distractions coupled with illiteracy made truly following the games a challenge.
Soon after the New Year, there was a special game. We got Wegmans subs and I really tried to watch the game. I knew I liked Andre Reed since I had his jersey. He didn’t catch the ball and that made me sad, but at least we were winning.
Until this crazy play happened that involved my dad shouting at our TV and my brothers crying. I was fascinated by how unique this situation was, even though it was obvious to my six-year-old self that that call was total bullshit. Over the following 17 years, I experienced a number of football events that I admired for their uniqueness. Sam Adams Huff n Puff Scoop n Score, Eric Moulds catching everything, Former Patriot Lawyer Milloy, trading Jason Peters, the ferocious defense of Kelsay/Schobel/Adams/Williams/Fletcher/Spikes, Billieving in Kelly Holcomb/JP Losman/Trent Edwards, Kevin Everett, Rian Lindell and Brian Moorman, Marshawn ‘Fresh of breath air’ Lynch, Stevie Johnson blaming God, Paul Posluszny & Aaron Maybin, Terrell Owens’ key to the city & subsequent reality show, Ryan Fitzpatrick being good and then being Ryan Fitzpatrick, Drayton Florence on the cover of SI, Ko Simpson being worth millions, Leodis McKelvin’s Lawn, MariO’s, TO’s, Flutie Flakes, Kyle Orton packing lips on the sideline, Having two kickers, Wade & Gregg & Mike & Dick & Perry & Chan & Doug & Rex & Anthony & ; I could go on but I think you get it.
Some of those are great. Some of those are terrible. All of them encompass what it was to be a Bills fan during this drought. I learned at an early age that I loved witnessing unique circumstances like this first hand. I learned last night that when you make the playoffs, it all goes away. The Buddy Nix prank call, the Doug Whaley/Russ Brandon Power Triangle, Bon Jovi, Marrone voiding his contract - it’s all history. We’re past it all. The drought is over.
During these last 17 years I learned how to be a kid, teenager, and adult; all while the Bills missed the playoffs again and again. We suck, I thought, but at least we have unique stories like Coe College’s Fred Jackson (did you know Marv Levy went to the same college; crazy right!?), and no one can take those away from us.
Ahead of the 2015 season, I predicted a Bills playoff berth, given the wild context of the prior two years. I may have been two years too early, but the events of 2013-2015 are an accurate microcosm of the drought and the piece serves as an interesting retrospective with the drought finally, thankfully, ending.
Revel in the playoffs, Bills fans. We made it to the other side. We’ve got a tough game ahead of us, but until Sunday I want you all to remember what it felt like in the thick of it. Think of something unique about this too-long era that made you love the Bills just a little more through all the losing. We’re family with shared experiences. Not all of them were awesome, but god damn were they unique.
Don’t let a 9-7 playoff berth make you forget that a year ago we wanted just three words: Meaningful December Football. Now we’ve got Meaningful January Football.
This season we’ve got at least 1,020 minutes of Buffalo Bills Football. Make the most of every second.
Edited by Jeremy Losak.
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