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It's time to restore civility to the Ralph

Where would you rather be than right here, right now?

With Marv Levy's famous question running through my mind, my 14-year-old daughter and I settled into our seats at Ralph Wilson Stadium, eagerly anticipating a much-needed Bills win over Baltimore. Wearing short-sleeved shirts and shorts on a gorgeous autumn afternoon, we would have been hard pressed to come up with an alternative for Marv.

But by the middle of the first quarter, our answer would have been, anywhere but the Ralph, thanks to the two beer-swilling boors sitting behind us.

Don't get me wrong: I'm no rookie when it comes to attending Bills' games and I'm not against having a good time, drinking a few beers and rooting hard for our heroes. My late father joined the bandwagon by purchasing season tickets in 1964 and I assumed the account in the 1980s. We've been sitting in the same seats in the Ralph since 1976 and wouldn't give them up for anything.

Having attended Bills' games since I was 10 years old, I think that qualifies as a lifetime of experience in observing fan behavior. The current state of affairs is downright depressing and disgusting. What is it about a football game that brings out the worst behavior in otherwise decent people?

Where are the instructions on the ticket for the user to act as crudely and obnoxiously as possible? It's almost as if there is a bubble surrounding the stadium and environs, and as soon as some fans enter it, it's OK to wear obsceneT-shirts, curse loudly with no regard for those around you and drink to a state of inebriation. What a nice way to spend a day.

A national journalist in attendance at the Oct. 8 Monday night game wrote in the Wall Street Journal that he had never witnessed such horrible fan behavior as that he saw in Buffalo.

Is this how we want to be known? We take such great pride in being a friendly, down-to-earth community, but it all goes out the window at Sunday home games when Dr. Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde and all sense of decorum and decency is left at home.

How many times have you heard people say that they refuse to bring their wife or children to the games because they do not want to expose them to the disgusting sideshow in the parking lots? Shame on us for letting a minority of brain-dead buffoons spoil the experience for everyone else.

The Bills have made a huge investment in security and policing fan behavior, and their intolerance of it inside the stadium is commendable. The Bills have pleaded with fans to clean up their act. At what point do people take responsibility for their own behavior?

Back to the two louts sitting behind us. The F word started to fly on the game's first series, which prompted us to turn around and politely point out the presence of a young lady and ask that they watch their language. The response was one for the ages:

"How old is she?" asked one.

"Fourteen," I replied.

"She's heard worse. What do you expect? It's a Bills game."

And therein lies the rub. It's a Bills game, so acting like a moron and using foul language is perfectly acceptable. When did we cross this line? Writing this in a newspaper is somewhat of a fool's errand in that the worst offenders will never see it, but perhaps if the rest of us stiffened our backbones and stopped tolerating this abhorrent behavior, we could help to restore civility to the Ralph.

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