For many Bills fans, supporting the team is a year-round endeavor, and one that stretches back for as long as they can remember. The players, coaches, and teams have changed over the years, but there are always some early memories and fellow Bills fans that have remained constant.
That's no different for Charles Middlebrooks of Buffalo, who has been a proud season ticket member since 2010.
"My whole life," said Middlebrooks when asked about how long he's been a Bills fan. "My earliest memories were of Joe Ferguson, Joe Cribbs, [and] Jerry Butler.
Some people have a moment that they can look back on and reference as "the moment" that they knew they had become a Bills fan. For Middlebrooks, however, it has always been a family affair instead, and that's just the way he likes it.
"The person who was instrumental, and still is instrumental, as far as me and my football love has always been my mother."
"She's a huge Bills fan, and you know what, she's so emotionally attached no one calls her home, by chance if the Bills don't have a win under their belt after Sunday," he explained. "Nobody calls her because they know she's so moody about it. Very emotionally charged."
Once his mother sparked his love for football and for the Bills, Middlebrooks really found out what makes being a Bills fan so special to him. While the games themselves are the highlight of Middlebrooks' fandom, the opportunity to make memories with those close to him is even more meaningful.
"Favorite Bills memories…. I [have] so many. I'll give you a couple. My father passed away in , but before that, we did ten years in a row of Buffalo in Miami. So we would go down there, and let me tell you this, just knowing that the Miami Buffalo game was on the horizon, it just invigorated everybody. [We] just couldn't wait to get down there. We stayed right across from the Miami Heat arena, and sometimes there was a game over there, and we'd go to the basketball game, and then had still [had all night], and then we'd go to the game on Sunday. It was such a wonderful thing. We'd get like twenty to thirty people. Family, friends, coworkers."
That, to Middlebrooks, is what it is all about. The experiences, and the camaraderie.
"Those are some of the things that are just priceless," he said. "You just can't put a price on that. Just beautiful, beautiful times. It's more than just a game, it's an experience when you're a Bills fan. It brings so many people together that you haven't seen, or people that you work with every day."
While his Bills fandom certainly runs in the family, Middlebrooks also looks forward to game days in Orchard Park, where he has the chance to meet up with new people that he can share his love of the Bills with. On the quest to make more memories, game day for Middlebrooks starts well before kickoff when he meets up with Bills fans from far and wide to tailgate!
"Oh gosh, I've been tailgating before I had ownership of my tickets. I've been tailgating with the Chefs. I've been doing that with [them], going back even before I started going to the games. My days on Sundays, my family, my wife and kids, everybody knows I'm out of the house by 8:00 a.m. I'm in line to park by 8:45 a.m. waiting for 9:00 a.m. when the gates open."
When asked what he enjoys the most about his tailgates, Middlebrooks said, "It's great food, great people, and a lot of different people. We have a lot of people that come in from Canada to tailgate with us. It's always someone new coming down for the experience."
Tailgating and going to Bills games is a very important part of Middlebrooks' life, and one that he loves to share with those close to him.
"You know it has kind of taken on a life of its own, and I think what it means to me, it also means the same to [my family]. Without even knowing it, the magnetism of the experience and the whole process, not to sound like Coach [McDermott] at all, but listen, it's a real thing. It's a real thing, it feels good, it's a great experience."
The Buffalo Bills would like to thank Charles for his many years of being a loyal Bills Season Ticket Member and our Season Ticket Member of the Game. In addition to Charles being selected as a Season Ticket Member of the Game, he received a club seat upgrade to the Eagles 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.
Photos of Bills fans smiling during Buffalo's Week 8 home game against Philadelphia at New Era Field. Say Cheese is presented by Yancey's Fancy.