As the Buffalo Bills celebrate their 50th anniversary, perhaps one of the team's greatest fans considers it just as much a celebration for himself. Jimmy Nydahl, from Tonawanda, N.Y., has season tickets dating back to 1961, and has attended every Bills home game since he was eight years old.
Nydahl's family has always been avid Bills followers, and the tradition was passed along to him. Jimmy plans to someday pass his tickets to his son, Andrew, who attends games with him. Last season, he was also joined at games by his wife, Elaine, and his long-time friend, Samuel Violante.
In addition to home games, Jimmy and Sam have attended various road games, along with all four of the Bills' Super Bowl appearances.
"It's almost difficult to speak rationally to Jimmy about the Bills because he is such a huge fan," said Violante. "I have never met anyone that comes close to his passion, loyalty and dedication that he has shown as a Bills fan."
One of the most memorable games Jimmy attended was the 1964 American Football League championship game, the first of back-to-back titles the Bills won against the San Diego Chargers. He thought that game was absolutely incredible because it was the first championship to be brought to Buffalo. Being at that game cemented his love for the Bills.
Since he dates back to the '60s as a fan, Jimmy has considerable knowledge of Buffalo's American Football League games. He remembers the greats such as Jack Kemp, and still has an immense love for the old AFL.
Nydahl's loyalty to the Bills can best be summed up when in 1980 he postponed his honeymoon until the day after the Buffalo-Miami opener, which the Bills won 17-7 to break the decade-long streak the Dolphins had over Buffalo. He also cut his honeymoon a day short so he could attend the Jets game the following week.
Jimmy's all-time favorite Bills player is quarterback Jim Kelly. Nydahl always enjoyed seeing him play, and lead the team during their Super Bowl run.
From the AFC Championship game win over the Raiders (51-3) to the 'Greatest Comeback' in the Wild Card game against the Oilers Nydahl witnessed them all first hand.
Nydahl and his friends and family don't attend games with their faces painted, but are the definition of dedicated fans. They pride themselves on never having left a game early.
His friends and family agree that Nydahl is one of the most dedicated Bills fans in the area. He is well informed on the team, and despite an accident many years ago, he has continued to attend games, regardless of the pain he may be suffering on game day. He has undergone many surgeries, which of course were scheduled around the Bills season, but it does not stop him from being in his seats at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
It is great supporters like Nydahl that solidify Buffalo's claim to some of the best fans in the league. Nydahl should enjoy the team's golden anniversary because it is just as much for fans like him as it is for the franchise.