The Fool’s Gambit

I don’t know what to do with the Buffalo Bills anymore.

I usually write about them with disdain. I often feel indifferent about their mediocrity. My brain knows too much about the cognitive damage football does to its participants. My soul knows too much about the heartache my team can bring its spectators. Yet here were are, hours away from the start of another season.

I am excited.

I think about opening day a lot. I always want to capture this moment in my brain before reality has the chance to ruin it. Hope, or something close to it, is what overrides all other emotions. Earlier this week I got a text message from the Bills letting me know that E.J. Manuel will start on Sunday, and a flood of excitement I forgot was possible came roaring through me. It’s happening again and, oddly, I’m okay with it.

It’s a fool’s gambit. I know that. But I still have thoughts about the Bills that put mist in my eyes and tweak the sentimental core that few other things can reach. I think about this post and worry that I’ve learned nothing from the years since I first hit publish. I think about my dad and hope he doesn’t become one of those fans that only talk about never actually getting one. I think about what football has done to my life; how I’ve learned about family and community and hope from a game I just can’t shake.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in Orchard Park today, but I know what I’m going to feel just before kickoff. I know what convinced me to purchase tickets above face value for a game my team is sure to lose. I’ve set myself up for failure, and I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t know what it means when my body can’t process what my brain can. If they’re going to be terrible, then why the hell am I so damn excited to waste my Sundays in anguish? Why can’t I stop thinking about that first roar of the crowd at the Ralph?

I don’t know. I don’t know how to make myself measure the variables and solve for X. I don’t know how to walk away. All I know to do is pack the car, barrel down the highway toward Orchard Park and hope beyond all reason that it works out. It doesn’t have to make sense. It probably never will.

Go Bills.