All posts by Michelle Girardi

Draft Party and Hunter’s Hope Update

Hello again Buffalo fans!

As most of you who followed NYCBBB throughout last season know, I am the columnist for our group and write about the Little Buffalo game day experience weekly during the season. If you have never gotten a chance to look at my column, “Michelle’s Corner,” you can check out what I had to say about the 2004 season on our Website:
http://nycbbb.com/columns/

I hope that everyone was able to spend the last week effectively recovering from the annual NYCBBB draft party at McFadden’s. Since I’ve only been in NYC a year, it was my first foray into the draft party madness, but as usual, none of you Bills fans disappointed.

Despite not having our first pick until #55, the bar was full all afternoon and most of the evening of devoted football fans guzzling Blue and Molson while watching the draft and baseball games. It was a great opportunity for all of us to catch up with old friends, meet and get to know some Bills fans we never got the chance to really chat with during the frenzy of the regular season, and even show our hospitality to other fans of the game. There were several Jets jerseys present and even a cowboy fan or two who enjoyed hanging out with our group and shared how impressed they were with our amazingly unique organization.

Last Saturday also marked the official unveiling of the NYCBBB jersey. The staff decided to invest in one that will hang in McFadden’s and be a constant fixture in NYCBBB’s home bar. The jersey is supplemented with an autographed photo of Marv Levy and a copy his book from January’s book signing event. Now there won’t be any question that McFadden’s is the capital of Little Buffalo and NYC’s official “Bills Bar.”

You can see a photo of the unveiling and all of the other hijinks that ensued at the party, including the crowd reaction to the Bills first pick, in the pictures section of our Website:
http://nycbbb.com/pics/draft05.shtml

For everyone who was still conscious by the time the Bills finally drafted, you know that Donahoe used our first two picks to take the University of Miami’s speedy Roscoe Parrish (WR) and Kevin Everett (TE). Reports on Parrish say he’s made a big impression on the entire team in mini camp, and it looks like his speed and good hands will make him a valuable inside receiver next season. While Roscoe is planning to model himself after Eric Moulds, it seems Everett has already emulated fellow TEs Mark Campbell and Tim Euhus. He’s injured his knee already. Unfortunately, we just heard from the Bills a few minutes ago that Everett has torn his left ACL and will undergo surgery. There has been no timetable set up for his return as of yet, making this a fairly major setback. It may be a while before we can see what this rookie can do, which means we are still very shallow in the TE position.

I recommend checking out www.BillsDaily.com if you’re looking for up-to-the-minute Bills news. Even in this never-ending off season, I read it as part of my daily ritual.

As always, we want to know YOUR thoughts on what the Bills are up to, so stop by our message board to rant about the draft or any other Bills/Buffalo-related topic.

2005 Season Tailgating
I know it seems like the off season has dragged on and on (and can you believe Travis Henry STILL hasn’t been traded?), but believe it or not, the time has already come to make plans for next season! If you are looking to go to an away game next season, but aren’t sure about the tailgating/hotel/ticket situation, please contact Kevin, our Tailgating Master and Commander at Kevin at nycbbb.com.

Anyone who still needs tickets for JP’s New Orleans homecoming next October should let Kevin know BEFORE this FRIDAY, May 6 so that he can help set you and your friends up with some $30 upper deck seats.

Kevin will also be sending out his own e-mail soon with a detailed and comprehensive tailgating guide for all of next season, so be sure to stay tuned for that!

Hunter’s Hope
The good people at Hunter’s Hope have informed us that the 2004, sling-shot yellow Chevy SSR raffle has not gone as well as they’ve hoped. They are still about 3,000 ticket sales short of reaching their goal of 5,000—and the raffle ends on May 24!! The tickets are only $20, which is only a small price to pay considering that the money will be used establish the Hunter James Kelly Research Institute in downtown Buffalo. As we’ve told you previously, the Institute, which will be located at the NYS Center for Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences at the University of Buffalo, is scheduled to open in January 2006. Its research will focus on repairing myelin (brain and nerve tissue), a finding that would help not only children with Krabbe Leukodystrophy, the disease Jim Kelly’s son, Hunter, suffers from, but will also help patients with Multiple Sclerosis, stroke, and other diseases in which there is white matter destruction of the brain and nervous system.

Thanks in advance from all of the NYCBBB staff for helping this worthy cause!

I hope you all are having a nice (and quick) off-season. I know I am already psyched up about starting my next batch of columns. You can expect to hear from me again at some point over the summer during training camp or pre-season because I don’t think I can wait any longer to write about our Bills! Until then, just remember this: the road to Detroit begins in just four short months with the start of the JP era. I hope you will all be with us to cheer on our team next season!

GO BILLS!!!!

A living Bills legend spends time at McFadden’s

To most Buffalo Bills fans, he epitomizes the Bills’ glory days and the franchise’s preeminent, most exciting teams. To me, and others my age, Coach Marv Levy is the Buffalo Bills.

We all remember Coach Levy prowling the sidelines in his red, white and blue Bills jacket; his “Levyisms;” his insistence on the importance of the kicking game; his propensity to quote Winston Churchill to the press (which, we’ve learned, he still enjoys doing); and our ability to live vicariously through him as he chewed out incompetent refs with rather colorful rebukes as well as gems such as, “you over-officious jerk!”

When Coach Levy retired, a huge piece of Buffalo’s football personality left with him. We all still love our Bills, but no head coach has endeared himself to the city of Buffalo or the legion of Bills fans across the country like Coach Levy.

The proof of Levy’s legacy was more than apparent last Tuesday at McFadden’s. Hundreds of fans showed up for a chance to meet the man who made Buffalo football legendary and receive a signed copy of his New York Times Bestseller Where Else Would You Rather Be?.

Football fans may associate Coach Levy with four consecutive Super Bowl losses, but Bills fans remember him as the man who gave us something to cheer about. He coached a team that was able to pick itself up year after year and continuously strive to be better, no matter the disappointment that haunted the city from the previous season. As a kid, it seemed odd for me to think of the Bills not going to the big game every January. Talk about a spoiled childhood.

I first obtained a copy of Levy’s autobiography in the hour before the Bengals game in December. I found myself running down Second Avenue decked out in my Jim Kelly jersey and a Santa hat, desperate to get my hands on the last two copies in all of New York City.

Who knew that a book written by the greatest coach in Buffalo Bills history would be such a hit in a city with two rival teams? The NYCBBB staff was starting to truly understand the phenomenon that co-founder Matt Soreco had known since his childhood in Yonkers: the Bills fandemonium bug had spread far across the state and beyond.

Our quest to get Coach Levy to McFadden’s began in early January when co-founder Matt Kabel e-mailed one of his Bills contacts, Denny Lynch, director of archives. Lynch put us in touch with Coach Levy himself, who expressed interest in coming to New York City for a signing, but he informed us we’d have to go through his publisher, Sports Publishing, LLC. Our contact at the publisher seemed hopeful that he could set an event up with us, but made no promises immediately. Then, on Jan. 18, he informed us that Coach Levy and his wife Fran would be in New York the following week, and could come to McFadden’s for a signing on Tuesday, Jan 25.

That left us one week. One week for the staff to gauge if there was enough interest among the Backers to come out on a Tuesday, and then organize the event with each other, the Levys, the publisher and McFadden’s. Not to mention promotion. And the fact that we all have full-time jobs (except Ryan, who’s been busy adding the word “Esquire” to the end of his name). Needless to say, we were up to the task. Probably the biggest name in Buffalo Bills history had agreed to come to McFadden’s, our NYC house of Bills worship, to meet his fans. Little Buffalo was about to be officially christened by the man who wrote: “There are no fans anywhere like Bills fans. Their loyalty and hardiness are unparalleled.” We weren’t about to prove him wrong.

The day of the signing, Kevin, our tailgating commander-in-chief, and I had the honored duty of picking up the Levys from their hotel and driving them back to McFadden’s. Kevin and I were thrilled, but mid-town traffic certainly didn’t seem to care. “I’m on my way to pick up a Hall-of-Famer!” Kevin bellowed from behind the wheel as pedestrians jaywalked in front of his Jeep.

We inched across town until I eventually climbed out of the Jeep in the middle of 46th street so the Levys wouldn’t be waiting alone in the lobby while Kevin battled the seemingly immutable congestion on the roads.

Thanks to some grace from the traffic gods, we were still able to make it back to McFadden’s on time. Although, neither Kevin nor I really would have minded if we were stuck alone with Coach Levy for a little longer than planned. As it was, I was doing my best “I’m not over-anxious to talk to you” impression as I explained a little about NYCBBB and the Backers organization. Being so close to a Bills legend who also happens to be a talented and articulate writer, my brain was going into hero-worship overload.

Walking into the side door of the bar, I felt like an impostor on a red carpet. Hundreds of eager faces and camera flashes met me as we escorted Coach Levy inside. At least one held up a cell phone, not to take pictures, but so that whoever was on the line could hear the commotion in the bar and Coach Levy as he began to speak in front of several large stacks of his books. The excitement in the bar was as palpable as it was at any game this season while Coach Levy told the crowd how happy he was to be there with us.

In true form, he introduced his lovely wife Fran as his offensive coordinator, quoted Churchill as part of a joke, and assured us that there really was no other place that he’d rather be, “right here, right now.” Levy’s heartening closing gave the Bills fans in the room something to cheer about. He assured us that he has been watching the team and thinks it is on the verge of greatness again. The room erupted, and cries of “Alright, Coach!” emerged from the back. Bills fans are as addicted to encouraging words about their team as they are to Canadian Beer. And there is no sports pundit out there that fans would rather have believe in the Bills than the man who once led the team to greatness.

With the 1992 Houston Oilers comeback game on every television, Levy began signing books and greeting fans, who patiently waited their turns in the crowded bar. We had ordered several hundred copies of Where Else Would you Rather be? and nearly sold out as many fans bought several books to be signed.

Shortly into the signing, Fran Levy asked if I would crouch next to the coach for the rest of the night to help him hear in the loud bar. I was more than happy to oblige (Where else would I rather be?). Witnessing almost every interaction Coach Levy had while signing that night, I saw firsthand his genuine interest in each person’s story of why they love the Bills. He was surprised not only by how many fans were transplanted Western New Yorkers, but how many were actually from the tri-state area. “The Bills are the only real New York team,” was an assertion made several times throughout the night.

Fans also came in for the evening from several other areas. Two fans from Albany had only heard about the event the night before and decided to take half a day from work to drive to Manhattan to get Levy’s autograph. One man who obtained an autograph didn’t even have that much notice.

“I grew up in Buffalo, but had no idea about the Bills Backers,” the fan said. “I just came in tonight for a drink and saw that Marv Levy was here!”

Several people wandered into the bar to see what all the commotion was, and some stayed for autographs once they realized a Hall of Fame coach was signing his book.

At one point in the evening, I pointed to the “New York Times Bestseller” stamp on the corner of Levy’s book, and as an aspiring author myself, I had to ask him how it felt.

“If I said I wasn’t excited, I wouldn’t deserve it,” he said, with as much class and sincerity as we’ve come to expect from him.

Levy signed books for nearly three hours straight in order to get to everyone who was waiting in line. He listened to the story of two fans who had their first date at the comeback game (and are now married), and joked, “So if it weren’t for me, you two may have never gotten together?” Another man admitted to being one of the field-storming fans who tore down the goalposts after the Bills beat the Jets to clinch the AFC East in the 1988 season.

Occasionally, Coach Levy would look up at the TV to check on the comeback game.

“This is when Henry (Jones) makes one of two key interceptions,” he said as if he has the entire game memorized.

“I dunno, Coach, I think we might come back and win this one. The Bills just might pull it off,” I joked with him as he watched the game.

He smiled at me. “You’re crazy! They’ll never come back from this one. No way!”

As he continued signing, one female fan approached Coach Levy with a book for her friend Jamie, who was leaving for Iraq. Because of time constraints, he was not signing personal messages in any books; but without any special request from the fan, Levy, a World War II Army Air Corps veteran, wrote, “We all admire you” in the soldier’s book. It was one of several moments where it became completely obvious to me why Bills fans adore this man so much.

Each time we thanked Coach Levy for taking the time to come and meet us, he insisted that he was the one who was honored to be there. He and Fran truly seemed touched by the turnout and the outpouring of affection they received from the fans in New York.

The most accurate depiction of Levy I’ve ever heard came from my always-astute friend Sarah, who mused that Marv Levy is a perfect illustration of a modern day Renaissance man. Athletic, intelligent, witty, humble, and articulate, Coach Levy’s brilliance extends to sports, literature, and history. He’s one heck of a guy, too.

I, for one, plan to continue gushing over him far into the off-season, and I know no one else who was there last Tuesday will likely forget the experience either. Let’s just hope the Bills take Levy’s prediction to heart next September. GO BILLS!!

No need to dwell on the pain; a New Year means a fresh slate

Little Buffalo, N.Y., Sunday, January 2, 2005 — Last Sunday morning, no matter where we were, we all had the same thought in our minds: The worst thing that could possibly happen to me is if we lose this game and the Jets or the Broncos lose as well.Then we did our best to put the painful past behind us and shook that thought out of our heads. No, that won’t happen. Fate is guiding us. Miami beat New England; Houston shut out Jacksonville; Big Ben is injured; Peyton wants to play; it’s all falling into place. The playoffs are a few short hours away and all will kneel before my unbeatable Buffalo Bills.

Oh, fate, you evil, evil, jerk.

I sometimes wonder if I should give up my abusive relationship with the Bills and instead take to banging my head against a wall as hard as I can once a day. At least with the wall, there’s no leading me on, no six-game winning streak, no false hope. All the cards will be out on the table. I’ll know that when I hit my head, it’s going to hurt, so if I don’t want to be in pain that day, I just won’t do it. Think of all the money I’ll save on merchandise, beer and chicken wings. Plus, there are no Patriots or Jets fans in this whole wall-banging thing. I may be on to something.

There’s just one problem. I love the Bills. And dog-on-it, if I haven’t given up on them by now, nothing is going to stop me. Loving the Bills isn’t just about football for me. It’s about hometown pride and loyalty. And it’s about wanting to stick it to anyone who ever says anything bad about our team or our town.

Sunday sucked, to put it lightly. I’m still getting that dreadful pit in my stomach whenever I think about it. And I’m still mad at the Bills. Why not go for it on fourth and one inside the Steelers’ 20 instead of relying on Rian freaking Lindell? Why did the offense only seem to have a sense of urgency during its drives at the end of each half? How did Nate Clements let himself fumble on the Pittsburgh 20? Why did our awesome defense let Pittsburgh’s scrubs run all over them? Why can’t I remember one good thing Josh Reed has ever done? I better stop before I start hyperventilating …

The truth is, the season had to end somehow, someway, and as much as I love to fantasize about it (yes, I really do fantasize and dream about football), the Super Bowl never seemed like a real possibility. It was never going to be easy with our offense, and as much as missing the playoffs hurts, all it would have likely done is get us a week more of respect out of the media. When we lost, everyone would turn on the Bills, and say that we only made the off-season by beating losing teams and the second string of the Steelers. Maybe it’s better this way.

OK, now that I’m thoroughly depressed from rehashing all that, and considering strangling myself with my mouse cord, let’s move on, shall we? This New Year sure started in the worst way possible, but we can’t let that ruin the next twelve months. So, as a form of therapy, I’m going to tell you all my New Year’s resolutions, which could possibly make the rest of 2005 not only fulfilling for me as a person, but as a Bills fan.

1) Every time I get the urge to either lose my lunch or throw myself in front of the Number 4 train because of the Bills, I will do 100 crunches. Heck, if I can’t get any sort of fulfillment from the Bills, I may as well have nice abs.

2) I’m going to learn how to place kick. If Rian Lindell has a career in the NFL, what’s stopping me from trying? The Bills have got to be hiring at this position. Instead of sitting at a computer all day looking at Microsoft Access, I could be traveling around the country making the big bucks and become famous. I’d be a chump NOT to try out. On a side note, I read a Buffalo News article while I was home for the holidays about how Lindell is having such a great season, and how he wants the chance to be the difference maker in a game. Right. You made a difference alright, Rian. Don’t worry Bills fans, if I get good at this kicking thing, and the Bills sign me, I promise that all my bad kicks will sail to the left of the goal post. I’m into changing things up.

3) I’m going to more games next season. Since I went to a grand total of zero this season thanks to poorly thought-out travel plans and strep throat, I need to make up for lost time. Win or lose, no one is better than Bills fans, so being around thousands of them at once sounds like a good plan to me.

4) Should I ever meet Tom Brady, I promise to kick him in the nuts.

5) If I decide to do Christmas cards this year, they must be Bills-themed. I’ve never sent out Christmas cards before. This past Christmas I got one from my boyfriend’s brother Mitch and his new fiancé Catherine. They looked so cute and in love, but it was clearly lacking in football department, which is all I was thinking about at Christmas time. My mom sent me one of the cards we had leftover from the early nineties where Santa is throwing the Bills a touchdown pass. That was exciting to see. Thus, I declared that if I ever send out Christmas cards, they will have to involve me wearing every stitch of Bills gear I own, and possibly a mini jersey for my cat, Moe, if I decide to go with the whole “picture card” thing (no, I don’t normally dress up my cat). Oh, yes, I’m serious. Stop judging. It’s not like I just told you about my football-themed wedding idea …

Yeah, my transition from “fan” to “big fan” to “unhealthy obsession” is juuust about complete.

6) I’m going to bake something just so I can use the Bills potholders I got from Grandma.

7) As soon as I submit this column, I’m writing to Jake Crouthamel, athletic director at Syracuse University, and telling him that Jerry Gray is sleeping with his wife. Good luck getting that head coaching job, Jerry! Muwahahahahahahahaha!

Let this be fair warning to you, too, Pat Williams.

8) I’m not getting involved in the quarterback controversy, or at least not taking an official position. I know most fans are ready to ride Drew Bledsoe out of town on a rail (including my brother who suggested that the entire column consist solely of the words, “Humpty blows.”). Drew doesn’t exactly give me great hope right now that the team is heading for the Super Bowl next year, but if Losman doesn’t turn out to be a Big Ben, it will be difficult for him to lead the team there too. It’ll be another “rebuilding year” with a good chance of not making the playoffs. Can we handle it? Do we have a choice? Either way, Coach Mularkey is taking a gamble. I’d like to see what Losman can do, but would hate to see another season of growing pains and learning curves, (I’d also hate to see another season like this one where Drew is inconsistent). We won’t get anywhere until we have an offense that can win games for us instead of hoping the defense can run back picks. What the Bills need is a little bit of that quarterback magic that seems to have blessed San Diego this year. Also, committing fewer penalties and not dropping the ball would help. The whole team needs to step it up. Time will tell if they are up to the challenge. There’s nothing any of us meager fans can do but hope Mularkey makes the right decision.

9) OK, this one I really mean. If we still have troops committed to Afghanistan and Iraq (or anywhere else) next football season, I’d like to do another donation drive at McFadden’s to send care packages. The week after Christmas, I went to Sam’s Club, Wegman’s and the Galleria Mall in Cheektavegas to purchase goods with the $350 the Backers donated during the Cincinnati game. Aside from Bills decals, talking footballs, flags and hats, the NYC Buffalo Bills Backers sent boxes of energy bars, beef jerky, Gatorade powder, chap stick, postcards, lotion, hand sanitizer, popcorn, nuts, gum, candy, DVDs and more to the men and women serving overseas with the Army Reserve 402d Civil Affairs Battalion, based in Buffalo. It’s a worthwhile cause and a great way to feel good about the Bills (and ourselves) even when the team disappoints.

10) I would pledge to be a better sport and less testy during bad games, especially when watching them with my parents, but there’s a better chance of the Rams conceding their playoff spot to the Bills. I do, however, resolve not to let a bad game keep me down for long. The beautiful thing about football is that there’s always next week, next time, next season (Sorry hockey, wish I could say the same about you). Like any true Bills fan, I know the next one belongs to us!

Thanks for reading my columns over the past few months. It’s been a pleasure to write about the Bills and the great people who pile into McFadden’s each week. I hope to see you all there for the upcoming 2005 draft party and, of course, next season. We’ve got plenty of time to rest up and then get pumped up to watch our Bills go all the way next year. I know I’m psyched already. GO BILLS!!!!

by Michelle Girardi

Support our Buffalo Bills Fan Troops

Hello all,

My name is Michelle Girardi and I am a columnist for the NYC Buffalo Bills Backers. Just a couple of things to mention before the Bills win their fifth game in a row this weekend!

We are expecting a big crowd this weekend at McFadden’s, so it will be a great opportunity for another good-will initiative on behalf of NYCBBB.

As you all know, thousands of our men and women are serving overseas this holiday season while we have the privilege of staying home, watching the Bills and being with our loved ones. So NYCBBB is going to assemble some care packages to send to other Bills fans overseas, and we’d love your help.

If you want to contribute, stop by the staff booth at the Bungles game this Sunday. You can either donate money or something along the lines of the following:

  • a card or letter
  • Bills memorabilia (football, flag, banner, shirt)
  • Cashews
  • Peanut butter
  • Trail Mix
  • Coffee
  • Beef Jerky
  • DVD
  • unscented moisturizer
  • microwave popcorn

Also, if anyone has a particular soldier or group of soldiers in mind to send a package to, please let me know. If not, we will make sure all packages go to Bills fans. Anything we hear back from our “adopted Buffalo Bills soldiers” will be posted on the Web site. Thanks for your help guys!

Help support our troops and GO BILLS!!!!