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Jill Krupnik Column: You gotta Bill-ieve

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Jill Krupnik

By Jill Krupnik, Wellsville High School Class of 2001, a member of the Western New York diaspora who now lives in Brooklyn NY. She was also my “next-door” neighbor for decades.

There’s always the wince. Even after making the play offs and the miracles Josh Allen preforms on a weekly basis, saying that you’re a Bills fan elicits a sigh of someone who knows that deep down they don’t have it that bad. I’ve gotten it from haughty Patriots fans, from Dolphin fans, Giants and Jets fan, even Lions fans. I have had Lions fans pity me because I threw my lot in with Buffalo as a babe and haven’t looked back since.

And I can understand why. If there are teams who are like a disappointing husband who never gets off the couch then the Bills are like the one who keeps promising to change and to almost get there before falling back off the wagon. A smarter woman would throw him out but there’s always that hope. Right? But there’s always the chance of reform. There’s always next year.

Us Bills fans are a special breed though. Loyal to a fault even though there has never been any team who so deftly can clutch defeat out of the jaws of victory like the Bills. There’s a gallows humor that hangs around even in the best of times. A PTSD of four consecutive super bowl losses and a decade plus of starting out aiming high only to crash and burn after game 5. We’re the team who always has a qualifier. “At least they’re doing well, right now.” Even other teams’ fans know that our default is heartbreak and that a winning streak is simply a prelude to loss.  And even if this weekend’s ending was truly up to a coin toss it still feels like it was fated. If the Bills had luck on their side we would be celebrating today. Tables would have been broken. “The Shout” song blaring from speakers.

Instead the Lions fan is sending me his condolences. My colleagues are telling me that: at least it was a good game, an amazing game, one of the best playoff games ever. They’re a little respectful recognizing that it always hurts when the one you love fails you again. But they are also a little in awe and a little jealous of the solidarity of the Bills fandom, of the Bills Mafia. It’s our losses that make us great because we show up year after year, risking frost bite and concussions and damaging hundreds of folding tables. We come back because we’re stuck in this codependent relationship but also because we Bill-ieve. This wasn’t our year. But next year? It’s ours.

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