Members of the South Florida Bills Backers
As the Bills took on the Miami Dolphins at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Thursday, over 30 groups of Bills Backers gathered across the state of Florida to root against their home state team. Of course, "home state" is used loosely, as most of these Bills fans have Western New York roots, and still call Buffalo "home."
But what's a home away from Buffalo without a little WNY flair? Groups like the South Florida Bills Backers, a chapter just north of Fort Lauderdale, make sure Sahlen's hotdogs, beef on weck, and Labatt's are on the menu at Packy's Sports Pub. Though, as anyone from the City of Good Neighbors knows, it's about far more than just the food.
"It's turned into something more than just getting together to have a few beers on game day," said South Florida Backers president Sean Hanrahan. "It's become a family away from Western New York."
Hanrahan's chapter, like many others throughout the county, grew quickly and improbably to any outsider underestimating the loyalty of Bills fans.
"We asked the owner of Packy's Sports Pub if we could make it a Bills bar," said Hanrahan. "He laughed and said if you can even find 50 Bills fans then you can make it a Bills Bar. Two and half years later we have almost 300 members."
A similar story comes out of Bob Daniels' Bills Backers of the Villages, a golf cart community near Orlando. The chapter was only officially started two years ago and now fills McCall's Tavern on gamedays.
"The street in front of McCall's on gameday is lined with golf carts adorned with Bills flags and stickers," Daniels said. "Mine even has a Mickey Mouse wearing a Bills helmet antenna topper."
The chapter of the Villages holds drawings during the game, including one at halftime for 100 ounces of beer, which Daniels said is quite popular. The Shout song is played loudly by both the South Florida and Villages Backers after Bills scores.
"We live in the middle of Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, and Miami territory," said Daniels, "along with Florida Gator football, so it's important for us to gather with like-minded folks with a common interest, the Buffalo Bills."
"Through the thick and thin, we get to enjoy the joys and sorrows together," said Hanrahan, surely speaking on behalf of Backers everywhere.
Head to our Backers Locator Map for a complete list of Bills Backers Chapters to find one near you.