Two Teams. One City. One Dream.
As the years have gone on and on, sports have become a huge part of every day life. More and more television channels have become dedicated solely to sports. Some teams have their own network, and that includes college teams. I don't go a single day without talking about sports with somebody.
While sports have become a part of every day life, I don't think it means as much to one city as it does here in Buffalo. And that is where my story starts. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Justin C. I'm too cool to come up with a catchy last name, and my real last name is too Polish for all of you. I'm 24 years old, and just like I have with wrestling, I've been a sports fan for as long as I can remember. My main concentration of writing on the site will be for hockey. I will throw in some football stuff too more than likely. I also write about wrestling on my own blog. I won't pimp it here but feel free to check it out.
And I'm from Buffalo, New York. A city of perpetual hope. A city that hasn't seen a sports championship in almost 50 years since the Bills won the AFL Championship. Buffalo gets a bad rap from most people that have never been here. It is the same old story. There's nothing to do here. It snows 10 out of the 12 months of the year. And I always say the same thing to those people: Come spend a day or two here and I'm pretty sure I can change your opinion.
As a community, I can't think of anything this town loves more than our sports teams. Sometimes an entire week can be decided by how our teams performed. Everybody is always in good spirits the Monday after a Bills win. The city seems a bit brighter and everyone is a bit more cheerful and pleasant when you talk to them. I don't believe any one team's performance has as much of an impact on a city as the Bills does in Buffalo. After beating New England last year for the first time since 2003, you would have thought this team just won the Super Bowl. That's how much we care about this team.
Going to Bills games are a great experience. I've talked to opposing fans who tell me the tailgate experience in Buffalo is nothing like they have ever seen before. Geting up at 8 a.m. on a Sunday, setting up camp in the parking lot, cracking open a beer and getting the grill going is a great way to start a day. That's especially the case when you have a large group of people with you. It is almost like a bonding experience every time you go. Sure, there are idiots who take it a bit too far. But a tailgate in Buffalo is different than any other tailgate in the NFL.
Now I'm not old enough to remember the 4 Super Bowl losses. My first memories of the Bills comes from their last Playoff years. I watched the Music City Miracle as it happened. It was heartbreaking. It spun the Bills into a decade of futility. They've shown glimmers of hope in certain years, but it always ends in heartbreak. I had season tickets for 3 years. The Monday Night loss to Dallas was quite possibly the most painful loss I ever attended in person. Leaving that game was almost like leaving a funeral. It was quite possibly the quietest I have ever heard that stadium. Finally, after all these years, we had finally gotten our revenge on the Cowboys. But no, it was taken away from us in the blink of an eye.
But once again, there is hope this year. The signing of Mario Williams has brought that feeling back. He didn't receive his own fan welcome like Drew Bledsoe did when he showed up, but it was just as big. People all over Buffalo were following Williams movement on Twitter. Where he was staying, the possibility of him leaving, where his wife was. Part of the problem with social media nowadays is crazy people trying to find the latest scoops, with most of them being crap and lies. Like many Bills fans, however, I feel like this is finally the year the Bills break their Playoff drought. Chan Gailey built this team to be his team in his 3 years as coach, and they are finally ready to take the next step.
Now even though the Bills are Buffalo, my earliest memories as a sports fan come from the Buffalo Sabres. I can remember going down to the Aud with my parents and watching the Sabres play. Now while I can't remember many specifics, I can tell you that the times I would go and watch the Sabres play were some of the best memories of my childhood. Up until two years ago I never went to a losing Sabres game.
Just like the city of Buffalo, hockey often gets a bad rap. People find it boring. I find it tactical. Just because the scores aren't high doesn't mean the game is not fun. I actually believe hockey takes the most skill to play out of any of the four major sports. Ice Skating, handling a small puck with a stick while keeping your head up, digging and fighting for the puck on the boards. All of that takes a lot of training and hard work. Hokcey will be my main concentration of writing on TJRSports. I love watching it. Playoff hockey is fun to watch. The atmosphere in the arena is great, no matter where it is. Even in Phoenix, where the team may not have much of future. Their Playoff run last year brought out the best in their fans. I find the NHL much more exciting than the NBA. Hockey has constant movement. In the NBA, you often have one player just holding and dribbling the ball until he feels ready to make a move and shoot. To me at least, the NBA has gone from being a team sport to an individual sport. Hockey is all about team work.
And just like the Bills, the Sabres have had their share of ups and downs. I remember waking up to find out about "No Goal." To this day, I still don't believe it was a goal. Just like the Music City Miracle was a forward pass. But my best sports memory comes from the Sabres. It was Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals. Down 1-0 with 7.7 seconds left, Chris Drury scored to tie the game. The Sabres won in overtime. All I remember is the puck going in the net, and then a huge mob pile where I was sitting. Yes, that tops the first Winter Classic for me. Although that was such a great and once in a lifetime experiece that it is no doubt #2. But the Winter Classic was definitely a spectacle to be seen. If you ever have a chance to attend one I would recommend it. Seeing a hockey game played outdoors in front of 70,000 people is just amazing.
The Sabres are just as big a part of the Buffalo community as the Bills. I've seen 5,000+ people in the plaza in front of the arena watching the game on big screen TVs. The Sabres new owner, Terry Pegula, is building a Sabres Plaza with a statue dedicated to the French Connection. Detroit may be called Hockeytown USA, but I really think its time to give Buffalo that title. Walk around Detroit and tell me how many peopl there have Red Wings shirts on every day. In Buffalo, I see Sabres merchandise everywhere I go. Detroit has enough of a problem selling out their games, and they have a better team than the Sabres.
If the Bills or Sabres ever won one of their respective championships, I can only imagine what the city would turn into. Sure other towns have parades and celebrations, but i would just mean so much more to the city of Buffalo. These two teams are the life line of the city. They dictate our mood, our feelings, our energy. If there was ever a town that deserved a Championship parade, its Buffalo. We've had so much bad luck and heartbreak that we are due one sooner or later. The people of Buffalo love our sports teams, and we wear our passion for them on our sleeves.
Buffalo's got the spirit, talkin proud talking proud.