The administration of all major sports teams is constantly building toward a kind of golden age — a peak in the team’s success when it rewards its diehard fans who’ve seen the organization through its good and bad days — by delivering a roster and results the fans can be proud of.
This peak can be pinpointed in at the very moment when hope materializes into production — the dream made reality.
Some teams seem to be in a constant rebuilding phase. They seem to be in a repeated state of looking toward future seasons while the present season passes by unceremoniously. These teams tantalize their fan bases time and again by coming ever so close to realizing the goals that they’ve sacrificed years trying to obtain, only to suffer some monumental collapse in their plan and to be forced to restart the whole process.
Any Baltimore Orioles fan knows all too well what this perpetual cycle is like. The Baltimore front office has — on numerous occasions in recent history — put together lineups that seem promising on paper. Coupled with an often solid farm system, the Orioles seem to draw their fans in, ensuring them that this year they will finally put it all together and winning will replace losing as the norm.
The Buffalo Bills experienced the maturation from a team of “what can be” to a team of “what is” at the end of a week three win over the New England Patriots. The team overcame a first-half deficit to beat the Patriots, led by quarterback Tom Brady. Brady, New England’s superstar and often the portrait of consistency, seemed lost as he was intercepted four times by a relentless Bills defense. With the score tied, Bills kicker Rian Lindell kicked the winning field goal as time expired, and the Bills — not the Patriots — walked off the field as the first team in the American Football Conference East to reach three wins.
Today, Buffalo fans everywhere are filled with pride and purpose as they now have something to root for. The notion of “this year” has been nonexistent in Ralph Wilson Stadium for years. In recent seasons, the most exciting moments have come off the field, as draft picks and the acquisition of promising free agents (namely wide receiver Terrell Owens) have produced hype that was never backed up on the field.
It’s now appropriate for the Bills and their fans to believe in themselves as contenders. They just beat the unbeatable Patriots, a result that translates to more than just an unlikely upset. By defeating New England, Buffalo took down a team that has dominated the AFC East for a decade and beaten Buffalo in an excruciating 15 straight meetings.
The win over New England announced something the Bills have been waiting a long time to say: We’ve arrived. Finally, the faithful now have a reason to believe.
McAndrew is a member of the class of 2015.