For New York Army National Guard Sergeant Marc Olsen, being a Bills fan brings a sense of pride, and provides camaraderie with his city during the tough times. Being a Bills fan takes dedication and loyalty-something Olsen has learned throughout his time in the National Guard.
A Bills fan through and through, Olsen has learned never to give up on his team and his city. Sergeant Olsen describes that for military members, remembering where you're from keeps you grounded, and helps make sure you never lose hope.
Olsen says when you're serving in another country abroad it's like "Hey, I'm a Bills fan. I'm from Buffalo New York. It is just pride."
Born and raised in Buffalo, Staff Sergeant Olsen has cheered on the Bills for a solid 24 years. He recalls being a high school student all four years the Bills went to the Super Bowl. Olsen joined the military immediately following high school, and made sure to follow the team wherever he ended up.
Sergeant Olsen has been a recruiter for the New York Army National Guard since 2004. He spent time serving active duty in Korea and at Fort Drum, New York. For Marc, it wasn't always easy to keep up with the team.
"During the Bills season when we were deployed, I listened to games on transistor radios and watched on portable TV's with antennas," said Olsen. "I specifically remember watching the Bills vs. 49'ers game in my Humvee with an antenna TV."
Olsen recalls the difficulties of keeping up with the Bills during active duty. Often, he turned to his peers to help stay updated, and remembers friendly bets with another soldier who was a Dolphins fan.
"When I was stationed in Korea it was much more difficult because the days were different. There was a kid who was a Miami Dolphins fan, and when the Bills played the Dolphins we would have friendly bets," said Olsen.
When asked why he has been a Bills fan for so long, Olsen could only laugh and say, "I don't know…because I'm crazy? In seriousness, I'm proud of where I'm from. I'm proud of where I grew up-it's home."
Win or lose, Staff Sergeant Olsen will always cheer on the Bills. Olsen says that being a part of the military is much like being a Bills fan. You learn to never give up, you always have to work harder- fight through the adversity as you learn to stay loyal and dedicated no matter what the outcome.
"It takes a certain person to be in the military- I know that being a recruiter," said Olsen. "Different qualities people have in the military shine through in different ways. A fair-weather fan is the same thing. Someone who only sticks with the Bills when they are winning would not fit in well in the military. The military takes commitment and dedication-much like being a Bills fan."
Now that Olsen is a Buffalo area recruiter, he is able to watch Bills games every week. A new season ticket holder, Olsen hopes to continue the Bills fan tradition, and pass it on to his 2 ½ year old son.
"I bought my season tickets in the Family Section, and I hope to bring my son to all games," said Olsen. "He's starting to learn what football is. I bring him to the Kids Day Game every year."
Thursday night marks the Buffalo Bills Salute to Service Military Appreciation game, sponsored by the New York National Guard and USAA. The game is focused around honoring our servicemen like Sergeant Olsen. The game will feature a special USAA Sponsored pregame card stunt for 50,000 fans, featuring a military appreciation message. Thursday's prime time Dolphins game is more to Staff Sergeant Olsen than just a football game.
"It's nice to see an organization take time to support big initiatives like breast cancer awareness and military appreciation," said Olsen. "It's good to bring awareness to those issues."
For Olsen, Thursday's game is a time that he is recognized as a fan and as a member of the New York National Guard, for the strong continued sacrifices he makes each day for our country's freedom.