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I was so recalcitrant in my resolve against being engulfed in the massive movement of the Bills Mafia! I even compared the obsession to that of the “Bey Hive” or “The Navy” (IYKYK). In my obstinacy I refused to become apart of the “Mafia” mania. At some point I resisted just to prove a point! The hill I was willing to die on; STEELERS FOR LIFE!

Let me say this, I will ALWAYS be a STEELERS Stan…but this past year has taught me that ”Buffalo Strong” is not a phase, it’s a way of life. And that Mafia is sweeping, hypnotic, and unavoidable. Especially after this past year. My induction into the Mafia has been similar to a gang initiation, brutal and heavy hitting. But I am a Buffalonian and we truly are BUFFALO STRONG.

The “Massacre”, The record breaking devastating Christmas 2022 Storm, which has now topped the infamous Blizzard of ‘77, and now this!!! The Bills already recovering from “The Christmas Blizzard”, has witnessed the precarious reality of life vs death. How is this even a thing?! This doesn’t “just happen”! Where were the warning signs? So many questions and still few answers but we pray and wait. Just as we did through natures’ weather storm. We pray and wait through another of “natures” unpredictable health storms, we implore the universe for the fully recovered life of young Damar Hamlin, son, brother, community activist for young people. We furiously pray.

In the house of Brown we are división rivals; him a Baltimorean NUT and me a TERRIBLE TOWEL waver. We fuss back and forth about our teams yet tough as hell B-more with emotion in his voice said, “this is fucked up, I hope that young man makes it.” The reflection of wetness from his eyes behind his glasses let me know this wasn’t normal. My husband fresh off a bone marrow transplant has not shed a tear for his own life. I know he will never admit it, but his eyes glistened,for a young life, not a player, he teared up and felt moved to say, “this game is done.” And it was as it should’ve been.

Let us remember emotional empathy is what allows one to trade places with another human, indiscriminately.

Caution, let us not forget that these athletes are not machines, they are not expected to “just do it”, these people didn’t “sign up for this”….to watch their brethren, a young physically fit healthy athlete, fresh in his career…felled by a tackle he’s probably sustained numerous times on the field, during practice. These men didn’t sign up to watch a brother, a fellow Mafia member, to be bought back to life in front of them. These are men, tough, conditioned mentally and physically...but who is tending to the emotional impact that this will surely have? Who is doing the wellness checking on the mental health of these very human humans? Emotional empathy allows us to see ourselves in other people; regardless of race, gender, orientation, and most importantly team affiliation.

These unprecedented occurrences over the past 7 months has taught us BUFFALONIANS, native and current, that resiliency is our thing. Buffalo Strong is a way of life and we walk it like we talk it! Our infamous city always the butt of a weather joke, but revered for our wings, has endured a tremendous amount of strife these past months. Quite a bit. But like a good Elton song “We’re Still Standing”, looking like true

Survivors. With a nod to the Hive.

Just remember to have compassion and EMOTIONAL EMPATHY for your fellow person, we are not all OK. AND many of us witness these situations day in and day out. Health care professionals don’t have a debriefing or intervention after every code blue. I hope the Bills have commissioned mental health providers for OUR Bills. Think Ted Lasso and Dr Sharon. This is more than the “yips”.

I am BUFFALO, I AM MAFIA (with yellow stripes).

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I’m not “religious”. I tried; I tried Catholicism, Christianity, Muslim and Episcopalian. And I always found myself unfulfilled and even more jaded than when I started my search. A country founded on


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