I am Captain Buffalo. Captain Buffalo begins with a red, white and blue face-paint theme, sunglasses, a very large, furry buffalo hat, furry leggings, tights, and a Buffalo Bills cape. The final touches are a sequined Buffalo belt, and a few dozen strings of beads. When I put on this uniform, I truly transform. As Captain Buffalo has been around a number of years, I now feel completely at home when dressed. I have become so comfortable, that I have gone to restaurants, parks, city streets, and I have even grocery shopped in this full Captain Buffalo uniform. Growing up in the Capital District as the Super Bowl era took shape, then going to school in Western NY, locked me solidly into the Buffalo Bills.
Eventually, work took me downstate, but as the Bills4life knows, the loyalty run deep.Without the support of my caring family, Captain Buffalo could not exist. I have done my part, however, to share my fandom with them. First, I pulled my wife out of a Patriots family, which was no small task. Secondly, my five year old can sing three Buffalo Bills rally songs. Finally, my oldest daughter has been to a Buffalo Bills tailgate every year she has been alive. It began with an 11 month old in a playpen, in the Meadowlands parking lot! I was given season tickets to see the Buffalo Bills by my dear wife. Seeing my team in person, fantastic! The only thing next was to negotiate the 348 miles of road to get there! I ended up learning just about every nook and cranny of the drive and ended up putting in 700 miles on every round-trip game. (Recently, my route has changed, and I have shaved 36 miles off the drive. This turned out to be rather disappointing, as it still takes the same amount of time!) I average about an 11.5 hr drive (round trip) every game day weekend. When we have our game in Toronto, my round trip drive pushes to 14 hrs. My first season I had made up a little mileage sign that was supposed to be a one game prop. It emphasized my frustrating situation; I could travel fewer miles to six N.F.L. home games, before getting to my home game. I was convinced by a friend to keep this mileage count going, so I did. As the 2013 season closes, I have now traveled 72,332 miles to see the Buffalo Bills play (since 2005). Over the past two seasons I have been turning each home game into not just a game day experience, but rather a weekend experience.
I recently completed construction on a home-built teardrop trailer that I have build from scratch. This camper was build from a steel frame and raw lumber; a project without plans. Taking over a year, the camper was a labor of love, which has transformed my tailgating experience. My youngest daughter named the camper, “My Trailerbed”, which is a solid description. This camper allows me a comfortable home, every home game I attend. It is insulated and is used year round. When the wife and children come to the games, we install the hammock and fit a family of four in this 5’ x 8’ camper. Yes, it even goes to the cold December games. In 2004, I met the infamous, Ken “Pinto” Johnson. When I began attending games the following year, I quickly befriended him and have been at the Pinto Tailgate ever since. It is here I first started the transition from standard football fan, to ridiculously dressed football fan. Pinto Kenny is famous for attending all Bills games (home AND away), and before long...... I had started taking in numerous road games and average about 2-3 road games a year. Catching a road game is a great experience, especially for Bills fans.
The Buffalo fan base and BillsMafia is very organized, and at most away games the local Backers work to celebrate with all the travelers. If you haven’t gone yet, you should! (Do it right though, research the local Bills Backers before hand. When in doubt start asking around for “Pinto Kenny”, where he goes Bills fans go!) At this point, I have been to 44% of the NFL stadiums. More to come! Adding to the excitement of a home game weekend, I devised the Stampeding With Spirit Tour (S.W.S.T.) over the winter of 2012. On this tour, I, Captain Buffalo, dress in full uniform (tights, leg fur, gloves, hat, jewelry, face paint, and jersey) and run a charity race while carrying a full size Buffalo Bills flag on a six foot pole. Prior to each home game, I run a 5K (3.1miles). Each race event would support a Western New York charity.Each season, eight charities that operate in the Buffalo Bills region are selected to be participants on the Stampeding With Spirit Tour. These eight charities are granted an “entrance fee” donation. The second part of the tour depends on my running performance. At each race I run my best, working to earn the fastest time I can. At the conclusion of the Stampeding With Spirit Tour, my best race time earns one charity the grand prize.I began fundraising in a true grass-roots fashion. After two seasons, over a dozen charities have received donations. This endeavor began with $0, but eventually raised over $1000 for local charities in Western New York. In all but one of these races, I was the only costumed runner. People would walk to starting line and after seeing the face paint, the costume, and the flag, immediately began smiling. The brave ones would ask about my appearance, asking, “You run like that?” I would then tell them that I was a Buffalo Bills fan who was running for charity. At times it was hard to tell which impressed them more: my commitment to my football team; or my dedication to run carrying a flag, and wearing face paint and a long sleeved outfit (not optimal for a ninety degree day).I was particularly elated when, at a few events, the race director came directly to me, asking how I felt, then ordered me to be fast! They had read about the Stampeding With Spirit Tour and were gunning for the grand prize! One even threatened to follow me with a cattle prod to keep me moving at top speeds!
Through the years I have met many solid fans, who love their teams. From Buffalo and beyond, I have met many great people. In 2012 I traveled to Canton, Ohio, and was inducted into the Professional Football’s Ultimate Fan Association (P.F.U.F.A.). Another fun moment was being selected to be a part of the Tailgating Hall of Fame. When you get out there, and see football games, you really can meet some great people. We now close the season; the Buffalo Bills will rearrange their staff and roster. Contracts will be evaluated. Preparations for the N.F.L. draft are being made. The season will soon be here. A better season will be here! And I, Captain Buffalo, will clean off the tailgate gear, ready the uniform for another season, and prepare for the Stampeding With Spirit Tour 2014. When the Buffalo Bills return in 2014, I will be there.