"Typical" Bills no more

I remember the Music City Miracle like it was yesterday. I was home on break from college and had to work. I was a pit man at a now defunct oil change shop in Cheektowaga (suburb of Buffalo). Y2K had come and gone without a hitch. And for some reason that stumps people in bars throughout Buffalo every time that game comes up, Rob Johnson got the start over Doug Flutie. You know how it ends. We sat there, huddled around a TV the manager brought in as Kevin Dyson scored, and somebody said, "Next year I guess." Of course! Next year. There was always next year. Almost every year of my adolescence involved Bills' football in January. Had I foreseen the decade-and-a-half playoff drought that would follow, I could have saved myself a lot of disappointment and bitterness. And those are all from the same game! I'm not proud of this. It has made me the worst kind of Bills' fan. I'm the guy you hate to watch games with. As soon as I see EJ Fitzlospatricktonwards (pick any of them) go three-and-out, I'm the first one to throw in the towel. I've explained this in previous articles and an unhealthy amount of gameday tweets, but this off-season has changed me. The 2015 Buffalo Bills are a different team. For 15 seasons, I've watched defensive stars, just entering their prime, walk away at the end of their contracts, yet I woke up this morning to find Jerry Hughes resigned. I've watched teams so devoid of offensive firepower that Stevie Johnson was the number one receiver for SEVERAL YEARS and a front office that limps into free agency like they are walking to their death. This year, they traded an unnecessary part for a star running back before it even started. I've watched coaches who are almost apologetic for being the Bills in their play-calling. Now we've got a coach who wants to bully the Patriots and made his truck into a tailgater's dream. These are not the traits of the same team that lost 6-3 against Cleveland in 2009 or the team that couldn't beat the Raiders with their season on the line in 2014. It's different. And it's going to take a while for the Buffalo faithful to come around to accepting it and to avoid applying what have become cliches in #BillsMafia. "We just don't spend the money." "They just don't seem to want it." "Typical Bills." Stop. I call upon you all to erase those from your memory, and give Rex Ryan, this defense of monsters, and the one-two punch of Sammy Watkins and LeSean McCoy your full and undivided attention for the next few years. I'm not sure if it will translate to 11-5 or 1-15, but I know for the first year in many, I'm not dreading the first Patriots' game this season. The city of Buffalo, the people within it, and everything about Sunday are so much better when they're good. What I remember most about the aforementioned Music City Miracle game was that we didn't see a single car come through our shop the entire day. Even if we did, I'm not sure our manager would have let us work on it. The playoffs are holidays in Buffalo. A holiday that has been indefinitely suspended for 15 years. Get your Zubaz ready, Buffalo. It's time. Follow @erikoehler on Twitter

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