Backers gather, young and old, in Nashville


If you've grown up in Buffalo, you know that Bills fandom starts young and considering the nature of the fans and the city, is fairly unavoidable.

Grow up with Buffalo ties in a city like Nashville, Tennessee, and you'll certainly have a choice of where you'd like place your allegiance.

That's why the Nashville Bills Backers Chapter starts 'em young.

"Being from Buffalo, I grew up in a bar," said Nashville Bills Backers President Mary Dillon. "It's not the culture down here, but we wanted to bring Buffalo to Nashville, family friendly environment included."

That's why, after nearly 20 years of changing locations each season, the group settled in 2010 at the welcoming McNamara's Irish Pub. Gamedays with these Backers are less of a rowdy scene from the Rockpile at Ralph Wilson Stadium and more of a place for parents to teach their kids the traditions of Bills football and share memories amongst new and old friends.

Dillon says one of her favorite moments each week, an original of the Nashville Backers, is the club's 1st down tradition. When the Bills get a first down, one Backer yells "that's another Bills" followed by the rest of the group yelling "first down!" Often, the younger fans take the solo – a big responsibility for a little Backer when followed by cheers of the usual 80 to 90 other Backers in the room.

"It's a neat thing to watch these kids growing up in Tennessee learn their Buffalo heritage and become Bills fans," she said.

But recruiting young fans isn't the only good deed the Nashville Backers do. Each week, the group organizes raffles, betting squares, and other ways to raise money for their local Second Harvest Food Bank. They've raised about $1500 over the past two years and are continuously thinking of new ways to help.

In giving back and creating a family-oriented atmosphere for the games, the Nashville Backers show they think it's about more than just what happens on the field that matters.

"People think it's all about football," said Dillon. "It is, but it's more so about 3 hours of being around your friends. It's a Buffalo thing."

Bills football is the root, but what grows from it could be the best part.

Dillon and her Backers just might be on to something.

If you want to join in on the fun with the Nashville Bills Backers, email, visit their Facebook page, or stop in at McNamara's Irish Pub.

Not in Nashville? Find or start a club near you.

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