PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) -- Buffalo Bills and Sabres fans enter every new season knowing that, a decade from now, their teams may not be around for another.
That uncertainty and the sheer amount of years they've faced it have imbued Buffalo sports fans and their diaspora with trademark emotional volatility that fluctuates between cautious passion and reluctant resignation -- with plenty of the latter as the Bills fielded a third-string quarterback and flirted with an early season local television blackout in Week 5 of the National Football League season. After nearly 20 years of witnessing it firsthand, I'm still not accustomed to the ritual torture inflicted on Buffalo fans nor the increasing intensity of those indignities.
It wasn't always that bleak by Lake Erie, but the misery has been brewing for a while. In 1994, I left the New Jersey and the New York metro area for the first time to start my freshman year at Syracuse University. Syracuse, N.Y., is two hours from Buffalo; four hours from New York City and Philadelphia; and about five hours from Boston if I-90 and the Mass Pike play along. In the fall, that made campus a stewpot of pro sports alliances that included the Giants, Jets, Patriots, Rangers, Bruins, Islanders, Eagles, Flyers, Knicks, Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Phillies, Celtics, Devils and just about every other team in between. Dorm hallways had more East Coast sports bias than ESPN, but pre- DirecTV (DTV - Get Report) and pre-Sunday Ticket NFL Sundays were an even split between the Buffalo Bills in the AFC game of the week and the Giants in the NFC matchup.
The Buffalo Bills fans were ubiquitous, with folks on my dorm floor from Rochester and Buffalo still riding the high of four-straight Super Bowl appearances, tempered with the pain of zero wins in those matchups. These were the Jim Kelly/Thurman Thomas/Andre Reed/Bruce Smith/Don Beebe golden years when fans could point to backup quarterback Frank Reich's comeback from a 35-3 deficit against the Houston Oilers during the playoffs in 1993 as proof that their team was not only a contender, but would be one for some time.