Year after year, hope springs eternal when football season arrives. With the pain of last season's demise behind us, cries of "This is the year!" erupt from many fans of the Buffalo Bills.
Being a sports fan isn't about rationale or reason, it's about translating all the hope we share into foolish expectations. Sports fans are supposed to have a short memory that prevents last season's results from carrying into predictions for the season ahead. Sports analysts need to have the same type of memory in order to make their predictions based on the facts in front of them. For the first time in years, fans and analysts alike are predicting a Buffalo playoff appearance.
Naturally, there are exceptions to the rule that fans should block out all the past years: people like myself, overcome by the heartbreak of 2011 and every year before that dating back to the string of four consecutive Super Bowl losses before I was even born; people like myself who, when asked to describe the Bills' chances for a Super Bowl win, would be sure to reply "hopeless," albeit with only a marginally higher amount of rationality than the fan who guarantees such occurrences.
But please, don't take us realistic fans – pessimists, some might call us – to be self-righteous. We will be watching every game, wanting nothing more than a victory. Another first-place start and defeat of the New England Patriots and surely we will be as caught up in the citywide bedlam as everyone else. The only difference is that come January, when our hopes for a playoff appearance are thwarted once again, the prevailing mood of a wide majority of fans will be "there's always next year," while people like me will question how they could have ever been so naive as to succumb to the thought of "Hey, maybe this really is the year!"
It's easy to see that Western New York is more vibrant and alive when the Bills are succeeding. For years, the team has been one of the greatest common grounds for Western New Yorkers. The joy and pain create strong bonds among the team's fans, some of the most loyal in the league.
So, with the season upon us, having acquired several players that can only bolster the roster (on paper, mind you), here's to another year of hope, rejoicing and heartbreak.