Mi nombre es Ezra Castro aka pancho billa it may come as a surprise where I was born and raised, as it does to every NFL fan I meet. As the song says “Out in the West Texas, town of El Paso, I fell in love with football...not a Mexican girl!”. After my first day of pee-wee football practice in 1986, when I was six years old, my “Papa” gave me the privilege to pick a football team. With all signs pointing to root for the favorite team in the area, “Americas TEAM”, I followed my favorite colors and came to a sad result. There were no teams in the NFL with red, white and green (Mexican Flag Colors). Thus, the proud red, white and blue came. Patriots or Bills. I didn't like the logo the Pats wore on their helmet because it looked like the man was taking a dump. So I hastily chose the BUFFALO BILLS! In shock, my Papa was utterly bothered that he didn't get to hand me the hat he was holding which bared a sewed on girly star, but he loved the fact I finally had a team to follow and cheer for. Not knowing where New York was or even existed; I told him “That’s my team, forever”
When I was able to break away from church for good behavior, which wasn't too often, I fought my brothers off for some Bills TV football time. It took me a year to realize that the Bills were never televised in El Paso. I learned the game well by watching other teams and fell in love with the sport more and more every Sunday. I didn't understand the draft much, but my Papa would always tell me that my team had signed good players. The Bills got to be one of the best teams in the NFL come the early 90's. Proudly wearing my one hat that I owned, the era I call the “WHAT IF” came around. All my friends and family would tell me to switch teams and laugh at me for being the only Bills fan in my barrio (neighborhood). Yup, I cried, and missed school the day after so I wouldn't be laughed at for 4 years straight. I stood my ground and stayed strong to the Bills for the years to come. I stood out in school wearing bright blue and red colors, swarmed by black for Raiders, navy blue for Cowboys, and red for Cardinals and 49ers. By high school, many were still in disbelief that I was still a Bills fan after the “WHAT IF” era. I soon became known as “The Only Mexican Bills Fan”.
Staying true to the Bills, I followed them game after game, season after season. Able to drive now, I found out that all this time, there was an El Paso Bills Backers Bar that showed all the games. I was so happy! I was still under age for a bar, but my papa continued to support me and took me when he was available. I attended my first game in Arizona right after high school. I saved my two months pay to afford my ticket and my travel expenses. Arizona was the closest and cheapest trip I could make under my job's pay. My parents thought I was crazy! With funds very limited, I stayed the night in my small car, in aWal-Mart parking lot after the game. Driving back home for 6 hours the next morning, I just kept thinking to myself, “I can't believe I just did this for my team, but dang I loved watching them in person”. I made a promise to myself, when I had a career and made more money that I would travel to Buffalo and to all the stadiums in the NFL to watch the Bills play in person. Today I am grateful that I have been blessed to be able to live my dream and keep my promise to myself. I calendar myself to at least two trips a year, one home and one away. I have met many Bills fans and opposing team's fans. I've learned that we all have our own way to express our love for the team we choose to root for. After a few of the games I attended, I noticed how rowdy, hardcore and characteristic some fans were. I knew that I had that same mentality about the Bills. I started collecting various NFL merchandise from the Bills. Anything that had Bills on it, I bought-- from hats, to Jerseys, to key chains and even a paycheck's worth signed memorabilia. Today, I own a large collection of merchandise and call it my shrine. In my collection, is my game day gear. I wear a wrestling mask, with the Bills logo, and a Poncho, also with the logo. Everyone yells to me, “Look at thatMexican mask and poncho! Awesome!”. I love it when fans ask me for a picture or just general questions about how I became a Bills fan. It always seems to amuse people. Especially the one's that I sit next too at NFL games. It reflects my heritage and where I came from, both of which I’m proud of, and more important, that I’m still true to my team.
Today, I am a proud member of the DFW BILLS BACKERS CLUB. There I'm known as the “Bills Gear Guy”. I haven't missed a final score in years. I still travel and always look forward to meeting any true NFL fan. It is in my funeral arrangements to wear my favorite Bills jersey under my suit for burial. All fans are “best fans” in their own way. What I believe that makes me the “Best Fan” is that I stood my ground. Truthful and proud, win or lose. Where I came from, and the “WHAT IF” era, taught me a lot about being true to myself and the team I chose to root for. I have my Papa to thank for letting me be a kid, enjoy the game of football, and making the Bills my team for life. LET'S GO BUFFALO!!
My proudest moment as a Bills fan has to be when I was given the honor to be placed amongst other fans with the same mentality as me and inducted to theHall of Fame- Pro Football’s Ultimate Fan Association in 2011. Our Mission is TO PROMOTE THE FELLOWSHIP OF ALL FANS, ENCOURAGE SPORTSMANSHIP AND SUPPORT CHARITABLE ACTIVITIES. I’m a proud member and a proud father to my son Ginobili E. Castro aka Panchito and hopefully I can pass the same values to him. “Fans are not born, they are made.” Pancho Billa was made. I don’t need a seat, I’d much rather stand up and cheer for my team. VIVA LOS BILLS!!!