Buffalo, our identity.
ESPN’s 30 for 30 series is always top notch. Four Falls of Buffalo was no exception. It was so interesting to see some of the clips that they had compiled for the film. I got goosebumps every few minutes of viewing the film. There were also some moments in the film that I wasn’t aware of. Primarily because of my age during the Super Bowl runs. The formation of my identity was not yet complete…
Hearing the stories of the national anthem from the players’ perspectives was quite moving for me. Internalizing the footage and hearing the backdrop of the first Bills’ Super Bowl really hit home. The backstory, the heightened law enforcement element, and of course the national anthem.
Video courtesy of cavbuffalosoldier:
As a guy that played the game, that is one of the moments I miss the most. The singing of the Star Spangled Banner was always such a memorable moment for me. That feeling that you prepared all week for this game and now it’s time. The players must’ve felt a cavalcade of emotions. What was so special in my opinion was how united at that moment, all of the Giants and Bills fans were. All of them wearing or waving the Red, White and Blue. It was a moving moment just watching it, being there HAD to give you goosebumps. It was definitely a special one, that was captured really well in the film.
The other moment in the film that really resonated with me was the hatred directed at the City of Buffalo. People rooting against the Bills because they didn’t want them to make it back to the big game. I didn’t realize that the media and the nation felt that way. Seeing that for essentially the first time really made me sad.
Growing up I always wanted to move out of Western New York. I planned on getting out as soon as I could. I felt like there was just so much more out there than what Buffalo had to offer. As a teenager I talked bad about Buffalo, “there’s nothing here”, “I am so sick of this area”. But I was too young to understand or appreciate the area.
So when I graduated from Tim Russert’s alma mater Canisius High School, I looked outward. I wanted to get out and I did. Well, sort of. I guess I wasn’t totally ready to go. I went onto school at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, yes the home of our Buffalo Bills! It was a short move, but a start. I remained a season ticket holder and worked security at the training camps in the summers. I had some amazing times watching the Bills and playing ball there.
College flew by, and two weeks after graduating I made the biggest decision in my life. I packed up my car and moved to San Diego, California. So I followed through. I got out of Western New York. My first week in California I took the Border Patrol test and got the job.
My job has caused me to meet many people, travel many places from all walks of life. But the first question that I get is, “where are you from? “. It’s universal small-talk. But it is also a question that frames your identity. Well that’s the way it is for people from Western New York.
My answer of “Buffalo” would always trigger an internal self-defense mechanism; expecting some kind of joke to follow. I am sure you have heard them all as well. So when you hear the wise cracks you roll with them. I have always embraced them, it’s nothing new. It doesn’t bother you, or at least you don’t let it brother you at that moment.
That’s how I handle it, but I’ll tell you why it is irritating. Part of the reason is because we lost four in a row. But what hurts even worst, is how the City of Buffalo has become synonymous with being a city of losers.
That’s the perception across the country. The City of Buffalo, and all of Western New York for that matter are losers. “Life is miserable there, it’s always cold and snowy I don’t blame you for leaving”. Witnessing the actual inception of the idea that “Buffalo is a terrible place” was shocking. I think the director of the Four Falls of Buffalo showed non-Buffalonians how wrong that is.
It couldn’t be the furthest from the truth. I wanted out from the time I was old enough to carry a football to the moment I graduated college. Ever since then I have been paying my dues, trying to get back. Western New York is a very special place. You don’t know that unless you have lived there. Unless you have been a part of the community, experienced the brutal winters, cherished the short summers and have had to grind it out on a daily basis.
It’s a blue collar area. Nothing is easy, nothing is given to you. Everything you have, you had to work hard for. Your parents and grandparents went through it as well. It is a way of life that is passed down through the generations.
The film really displayed the disdain for Buffalo and it had a profound effect on me. I think there’s only one reason for that and I’m sure I’m not the only one that felt that. Being a Buffalonian is a badge of honor, it is our identity. We relish the underdog role, because that’s the role WE live everyday. See, that’s what makes Buffalo, Buffalo. WE, all live that way. All of us come from the same cut of cloth. That’s what makes Buffalo special; the people, the community. We really are ONE BUFFALO….