But it's a new season and hope springs eternal along with a new sports bar - the Rockpile Pub & Grille.
Since the Bills open up at the obnoxious J-E-T-S (Jets, Jets, Jets!), the Rockpile would be a good a candidate for your own season-opener road trip.
Located on Southwestern Boulevard in Hamburg, the Rockpile is only four miles from The Ralph. It occupies what was once Chandy's Lounge and Limerick's among others.
The inside has been totally renovated. The wood paneling has been refinished. Walls have navy and red accents and a fun Buffalo Bills rug lines the entrance floor.
The real décor are the pictures by Robert. L. Smith, former Bills (and Buffalo News) photographer. They hang on every available space and cover some of the tabletops. From 1960 until his retirement in the early 2000s, Smith captured the essence of Bills history, many in black and white: A crowd shot of the original Rockpile. Albert Dubinion extended for a catch. OJ in his rookie No. 36. Buffalo Jills cheer in groovy white boots. Dejected, muddy players ride the bench. (And for the ladies, a priceless locker room shot in the bathroom.)
More recently there are images of our beloved boys of the Super Bowl years - pure emotion immortalized in beautiful journalistic shots. We couldn't help walking around and ogling every photo.
The main bar sits along the back wall. There are tons of flat-screen televisions, including small ones next to dining tables. Tall bistro tables and chairs sit near the bar's main screen. You'd be hard pressed to find a spot without a view.
A plaque with Vince Lombardi's "What it takes to be #1" hangs near doors that lead to a giant wood deck with a covered bar and another flat-screen. Umbrella tables and a fire pit with Adirondack chairs provide ample seating. We could envision a crisp October day, watching a game all bundled up in the elements as if we were in the stands! And despite its football feel, the Rockpile will be a great place to watch Sabres games, too.
Drinks are basic with a wide selection of beers (just as it should be for a sports bar). In other words, look elsewhere for the guava margarita!
Of course food is an integral part of the fan experience. The Rockpile has tapped into the greasy, gooey and deep-fried food cravings that run high during the NFL season. The menu is filled with fun items. Rock Pile wings ($8.95, $16.95, $37.95) come standard or with Smerlas (Parmesan/garlic) or Reggie (BBQ) sauces. There are crispy battered Going Deep Fried Pickles ($5.95) and Goal Line Stuffed Banana Peppers ($7.95).
We cracked up at items like the Bruce-chetta ($7.95) appetizer, Philly-Hansen Cheesesteak ($9.95) and vegetarian Marv Burger.
Fittingly, a Rockpile specialty is the Thurmanator Rockpile Wall of Fame Burger Challenge - two 12-ounce patties topped with extra cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion and strips of bacon served with a full order of fries, a 23-ounce milkshake and Cookie Gilchrist ice cream sandwich ($24.95). Finish all in 30 minutes or less and you'll get it free, plus your name and picture on the wall.
But it's the photos you'll want to feast your eyes on. They'll bring back fond memories, and maybe, just maybe, some positive karma that gets our own red, white and blue juices flowing all over again.
Rockpile Pub & Grille
Where: 4923 Southwestern Blvd., Hamburg (www.therockpilepub.com, 202-1494).
Hours: Opens at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, noon Saturdays and 11 a.m. Sundays.
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
The Scene: Buffalo Bills bonanza in a fantasy football land. Wear your Bills Zubaz pants and AFC Champions sweatshirts.
Drinks: Bottled beers are $3-$5. Draft beers from $4.50 include Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Blue Moon, Rusty Chain, Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald, Ellicottville Blueberry Wheat. Mixed drinks start at $3.50; wine at $5 glass.
Specials: Happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday. Mondays and Fridays have 2-for-1 martinis, Wednesdays have 35-cent wings.
Extras: Lots of parking. Propane heaters on the patio.