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Day 1 ? (Just seems like a good place to start, actually, I don’t know what day it is…)
Dear Bill Mafia,
My name is Trish Patel and I have no idea what I’ve become. I don’t know where I am now. Days, weeks and months have blended into one huge waste of time and I fear for my personal safety and well-being. As such, I choose to send these messages into the ether. So if I don’t come back, I can at least present my findings so far.
For eons, one question has plagued the hearts and minds of all Bills Mafia: does the Bills Mafia really exist outside of Buffalo and the United States at large?
As a woman of science, this question has intrigued me for far too long and I just had to try to find an answer. So, I set out on an expedition, traveling the world, trying to find the ever-elusive International Bills fans. It was no easy feat, and the first few days seemed like a futile attempt at the impossible. And then things got interesting. I found someone. His name is Matt Swain, but for the sake of simplicity, I’ll call him “Subject 001”.
I met 001 online (from all places). It was a random event, for which I am eternally grateful. After some prompting and persuasion, 001 agreed to tell me her story.
Presentation of subject 001
001 is the founder of the Bills Fan Group in the UK. He’s been a Bills fan since 1999, after the game that “no one will talk about.” The Bills reminded him of his childhood football team (American translation: football), West Ham United and their work ethic that really speaks to their fans. They, just like the Bills, are a team you can really root for. For that reason, he was drawn to the Bills and the rest, as they say, is history.
[Subject 001 showed a lot of loyalty to a team he has not grown up around. Could it be that the Bills have such a large following simply because of their “underdog” mentality? I had to know more. I mean, he founded a fan group.]
To get to this point, he went back to 2013. There was a British NFL fan Facebook group with a significant number of Bills fans, so he decided to start a separate group just for Bills Mafia. [I went back and tried to find some data on this. Unfortunately, none came up.] After creating the group, it was audited by the Bills Backers, and over the past seven to eight years it has gone from strength to strength.
[Subject 001 is very passionate about growing the Bills UK group to much bigger heights. He talked about a website, merchandise, and potential memberships for special perks such as meet and greets or Q&As. A lot is happening.]
I needed to know more about his Bills habits. One thing that really cast doubt on international Bills fans is jet lag. Surely that must complicate things?
001 has no superstitions about watching games, he just sits in his favorite spot on the couch and finds the perfect stream. The problem, he discovered, is that he has to suppress the urge to yell and shout during night games in order to avoid waking up the whole street.
[Subject 001 leads a sad life as a Bills fan, it must be agonizing to not be able to cheer on your team.]
Not having grown up in the United States, it made sense to be skeptical of Subject 001’s knowledge of football. So I had to ask him what he thought of the upcoming season. He predicted 14 wins on the season, with losses coming to the Titans, Chiefs and Bengals (only because the Bills will have rested all starters after securing the No. 1 seed from the AFC).
He also thinks Gabriel Davis will have a stellar season. Diggs will more than likely be covered, so Davis will see a lot more snaps. And, like many Bills fans, he firmly believes Allen can be MVP, provided he performs well in the first half of the season when it really matters. On the other side of the ball, Ed Oliver has new recruits in Miller, Settle, Phillips around him. So, according to 001, Oliver has everything he needs to finally reach his full potential.
[Subject 001 more than proved his football knowledge. At this point, I am confident in my findings so far that International Bills fans do in fact exist. But now, it was time to really put it to the test – merch.]
001 has two favorite pieces, a hat and a ball signed Marcell Dareus. The Bills came to the UK for a game against the Jaguars. 001 had the chance to work with the Bills and spend a day in London with Dareus. His favorite story from that day is that on the other side of the Palace is a park with a small bridge. Alabama’s huge defensive tackle spent a few moments on that deck, reading Shakespeare. Nothing like a bit of Romeo and Juliet to start the day.
[Subject 001 has proven himself to be a Bills fan, and a loyal one at that. But, to truly determine his love of the team, I had just one last question: Who is his favorite kicker?]
Just because of the records he holds and the impact he has had on the team, his favorite kicker is Rian Lindell.
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I need you to help Bills Mafia, I need you to do more research on Matt Swain. You can find him on Twitter (@MattSw86) and even on UK vouchers (@UK_Bills). He also co-hosts the “Red, White and Buffalo Blues” podcast (@RWBB_podcast). Please find out everything you can about him.
Subject 001 showed the promise of the existence of International Bills Fans. The profanity of his final response still pains me as I sit here writing this transmission. It looks like Subject 001 really is a Bills fan, but missed the mark on the kicker.
However, he gave me hope. Enough hope to keep looking, to find even more of these fans. Right now I have to go, I heard some noise from the west and I need to find a safe place for the night. I will send another message in a few days.
Until then, please tell my family I love them and Go Bills!
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Original featured image: @UK_Bills Twitter