America’s (New) Team 

Nicola Veltri, Staff

TRIGGER WARNING: The content of the following sentence may be disturbing or upsetting to Dallas Cowboys fans. 


 Cowboys fans, it was a good run (somewhat), but America has a new team, the Buffalo Bills. Despite falling short in the AFC Championship against a Chiefs team looking to start a dynasty, the Buffalo Bills had a monumental season. A 13-3 finish to the season, their best since 1993, and their first division title in 26 years was enough Buffalo, New York, into their very own roaring 20s. But dreams began to seem like reality when the thrilling Bills ended a twenty-five-year drought without a playoff win. What seemed to be a miracle season in the making continued as the red, white, and blue defeated the Baltimore Ravens, 17-3, to advance to the AFC Championship for the first time since 1993 (the last year of four straight Super Bowl losses). It is never easy to come that close to history only to be sent home, but the city of Buffalo finally has a team to be ecstatic about. But as always, Bills fans take it to the extreme.  


The Mafia 

If there has ever been a fanbase as famous as their team, it’s the “Bills Mafia.” These die-hards certainly earned this nickname with high flying, table smashing antics that have become the signature stunts of the mafia mayhem. Although there seems to be no method to the madness of Bills fans, there is no denying that they have good reason for the ravenous celebration. Members of the Bills Mafia have endured seasons that would make most fans jump ship. From 2000 to 2016, the Bills only had two seasons with a winning record (9-7 both years) while burning through eight head coaches. Despite what felt like a permanent stay at rock bottom, Bills fans stuck through it all. During that 16-season stretch, only 3 of those seasons saw average attendance at Bills Stadium drop below 90% capacity, but never fell below 85%.  

It is one thing to be crowned the most committed and rambunctious fanbase in sports. But being just as selfless is what makes the Bills Mafia the best fans on earth. The football fiends of Buffalo have shown the sports world that fans can give back beyond the gridiron, just like their favorite players do. Flashback to the end of the 2018 NFL regular season; Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton connects on a last-minute touchdown pass to beat the Baltimore Ravens, sending the Bills to their first playoff appearance in 17 years. Ecstatic as ever, Bills fans thanked Andy by donating to his charity. According to Dalton, $215,000 was raised by 10,000 Buffalo fans by Wednesday of that same week. A mere three days after the game ended. That number continued to climb as the week went on. The Mafia did it again earlier this season when Bills quarterback, Josh Allen, lost his grandmother, Patricia Allen. Fans showed support of their gunslinger by donating to the Patricia Allen Fund. Since her passing in September, fans have raised over $1 million for the fund, including a donation of $217,000 by one fan alone. Bills fans carried this incredible tradition into this year’s playoffs as well. In the third quarter of the AFC divisional game between the Bills and Ravens, the reigning MVP, Lamar Jackson, was sidelined by a concussion before falling to Buffalo, 17-3. In a spectacular showing of sportsmanship and compassion, Buffalo fans began to flood donations to one of Jacksons favorite charities, the Louisville chapter of “Blessings in a Backpack.” As of last week, those donations have reached $360,000. According to Jamison Hensley of ESPN, Lamar Jackson had previously raised $25,000 for the chapter by signing autographs. That amount was raised more than ten times over by Bills fans in less than 24 hours. The greatness of the sport lies in the good it can inspire, and there are no fanbases in history that have made the game as great as the Bills Mafia. Even if you can’t manage to root for the Bills, you must respect the pride, ferocity, and selflessness of their fans.  


Welcome to Josh Allentown  

Most NFL fanbases go above and beyond to show love when their team has a star quarterback. To no surprise, the good people of Buffalo take things a few steps further for their star, Josh Allen. A historic Buffalo neighborhood, Allentown, has revealed its new name, “Josh Allentown,” in glorious fashion. 

Courtesy of buffalo

Without a doubt, Josh Allen deserves all the love that the Buffalo fans are giving him. Not only has he broken franchise records and ended the city’s drought with a spectacular playoff run, but he has put together a strong campaign for league MVP. Across the league this season, Allen ranked top 5 in passing yards, passing touchdowns, yards per attempt, completion percentage, and QBR (all are career highs). The accolades and awards that will come with Allen’s performance this season alone are a given. However, perhaps even more impressive is his development from his college days at Wyoming and his rookie season.     

From an unknown high school recruit, to only one offer (Wyoming) out of junior college, to an MVP caliber quarterback (in just his third professional season) is the type of development NFL executives dream of the night before draft day. Throughout his career, as a high school and college starter, Josh Allen had never posted a completion percentage north of 60%. His rookie season, he posted a 52.8 completion percentage. At the close of the 2020 regular season, Allen finished with a 69.2% rate of completion. An incredible 16.4% increase in just his third year. To put this into perspective, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were nowhere near that kind of jump at the close of their third year as starters. Brady’s completion rate decreased from 63.9% in his first year to 60.2% in his third year as a starter. Manning made great progress, increasing from 56.7% to 62.5% by his third year, which adds to how   impressive the Bills gunslinger has been in his development. It is hard to doubt that the city of Buffalo

has found their man for the future. 


The Case for Diggsville 

But how good are the Bills without wide receiver, Stefon Diggs?  

Football fans are very familiar with Stefon Diggs, thanks to his impressive days as a Minnesota Viking. He is cemented in football history after shocking the world with the “Minneapolis Miracle” in the 2017-2018 playoffs. Down by one point with just enough time for a miracle, Diggs took a 61-yard catch to the house to send home Drew Brees and a stellar Saints team. Many football fans, I included, expected that to be the defining moment of Diggs’ prime. This season, Stefon Diggs has proven that he has no ceiling, and now has a chance to expand his presence in football history. Perhaps the people of Buffalo need to find room for a Stefon Diggsville. 

The impact that Stefon Diggs has had on the Bills is nothing short of astounding. Since arriving in Buffalo via trade, Diggs has demanded All-Pro honors, and nobody is going to disagree with him. In the 2020 regular season, Stefon Diggs led the league in receptions, targets, and yards while finishing second in yards per game. The former Maryland Terrapin racked up career highs in almost every category. Since becoming teammates, Diggs and Allen have both been playing the best football of their young careers. Not to mention, they led their franchise and the city of Buffalo on an incredible playoff run in their first year together, coming up one win short of a Super Bowl berth. With AFC teams led by stars like Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, it certainly won’t be easy to make another run at a Super Bowl, but neither was reviving a once desolate franchise.  

A point needs to be made that there should be no debate on whether Diggs or Allen is responsible for the success of the other or their team. The deadly duo of Allen and Diggs is the kind of pair that has the potential to earn them both a gold jacket and a pair of statues somewhere in Buffalo. As of now, it is our duty as football fans to simply sit back and enjoy the kind of pitch and catch these two are playing. 

Now I ask, what’s not to love? A once forgotten New York franchise is now the king of its state, two young stars help lead their franchise back to former glory, and a fan base that shows what sports are all about in a ferocious fashion. Throw in a few more playoff runs, and the revival of the Buffalo Bills is complete. The red, white, and blue crew has shown us that there is no rock bottom that is inescapable, and their fans are showing us you might as well have a good time and give back while climbing out. To me, that is what makes the Buffalo Bills America’s team.