For Karen Garner, a born and raised native of Buffalo, the Bills have been a part of her life for as long as she can remember.
“I got started when I was about 15, I used to go up to the Rockpile on Best and Jefferson [streets] with my uncle. I think my first game, I was like 15 or 16.”
While the team has certainly changed quite a bit since those days, Garner’s favorite memory as a Bills fan has been with her for some time now. Many people claim to have been at the game, but Karen was actually at the famous “Comeback Game” against the Houston Oilers twice!
“My favorite Bills memory is the ’93 game, the big comeback. What happened was, we had left the game, and [started] listening to it on the radio. We said ‘wow, they got a couple touchdowns, couple touchdowns, couple touchdowns!’ So, then we turned around on the thruway, and came back to the game. And I learned then, never cut them off, never leave the game.”
In celebration of the team's 60th season, scroll through to view photos of the uniforms the team has worn since beginning play in 1960.
Once Garner left the game, was she able to get back in?
“I got back in the game. The [ushers] said, ‘Are you season ticket holders? Come on in, come on in’. They let us get right back to our seats, there were people sitting in our seats and everything. [The fans in our seats said] ‘They said you were gone!’”
“[I responded], ‘We were, but we’re back!’ It was some experience, I’ll tell you. My cousin made that turn on the thruway, and we came right on back.”
Bills fans are some of the most passionate and loyal fans in sports, and Bills fans commonly say that once you become a Bills fan, you’ll be a Bills fan for life. That’s no different for Garner, who fell in love with the team at a young age and has been on board along with her cousin and fellow season ticket member Deborah Lee ever since.
“Well, I really love football, and I just love our team. It’s just like one day it’s going to really happen, we’ll get to the playoffs and win the big game. I just have faith in them, and we keep getting good players, and I just figure one day it will be really be our time.”
Garner originally purchased her season tickets in 1989 with her sister, and they attended games together for years. When she tragically passed due to a battle with cancer in the early 90’s, Lee stepped up and helped Garner keep her original seats. They’ve been going to games together ever since.
“Sitting there in the crowd, the crowd we sit with, a lot of them are season ticket members. It’s like a little family.”
Tailgating is a huge part of the Bills game day experience, and the family atmosphere that Karen references. Together with Lee, Garner also makes sure to take part in that, just as they have been for nearly three decades together.
“We usually tailgate most of the time. We go out there and cook our burgers, sometimes [Debbie] will bring ribs and we’ll just warm them up. We usually tailgate most of the time.”
Taking it all into account; the early memories, the tailgating, and the years of attending games with their friends and family, why do Garner and Lee keep coming back to New Era Field as season ticket members? For Garner, that’s easy.
“Just going in the crowd, being so pumped up, so hyped… Just being together, and enjoying the game, enjoying the fans, and enjoying the weather.”
The Buffalo Bills would like to thank Karen Garner and Deborah Lee for their many years of being loyal Bills Season Ticket Members and our Season Ticket Members of the Game. In addition to Karen and Deborah being selected as Season Ticket Members of the Game, they received a club seat upgrade to the Redskins vs. Bills matchup, an autographed item and select Bills merchandise.
If you would like to submit a nomination for a Bills Season Ticket Member of the Game, please fill out the form located here.
Scroll through to view photos of every player currently on the Bills 53-man roster along with updates on their play to this point through 8 games.