Even for expats, the Bills are as much a way of life as a sport - The Buffalo News

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Even for expats, the Bills are as much a way of life as a sport

It's Bills season, Buffalo.

For locals, football can be much more than just a sport. Even expats, when asked what they miss the most about Buffalo, often answered: "The Bills." It's a way of life, maybe even a religion.

That certainly rang true for Michael Zygmunt. He said he remembers going to church on Sunday morning and sitting in the seats. Once mass had ended, the priest bid his congregation adieu with this closing remark: "Go in peace and go Bills." The Angola native said he most misses Sunday football in Buffalo.

"There was always an electricity in the air," the current resident of Louisville, Ky., said. "Even if you weren't going to the stadium, it was what everyone was talking about."

Others shared specific Bills memories that tie them to the sport and the city. Aaron Czechowski doesn't have just any old memory of his home team. He remembers the greatest comeback in NFL history.

Photo courtesy of Aaron Czechowski

Czechowski, serving in active duty in the U.S. Army, said he went to that fateful playoff game in '93 against the Houston Oilers. He had joined the National Guard and was still in advanced individual training. But he came home to go to the Bills game with his dad.

By halftime, Houston was up 28-3 and it wasn't looking too good for Bills fans. Czechowski's dad wanted to go home.

"But me being the soldier that I am … will never quit or give up," he said.

Czechowski said he'd walk home if his dad chose to leave the game. Needless to say, his dad stayed, and the rest is history. The home team flipped the score from 35-3 Houston to 41-38 Bills in overtime. Though he's stationed in Hawaii, Czechowski said he watches games whenever he can and keeps the tradition rolling.

"Go Bills! Bills fan for life."

While Czechowki remembers the best of times, Jason Vera of Lancaster, Calif., recalls the worst of times. When asked what he misses the most about the city, the Buffalo native pinned it down to one infamous Bills memory.

"(I miss) what any Buffalonian misses the most … a missed field goal in a Super Bowl. And it still hurts! Ouch!"

[Related gallery: Expats' fond memories of Buffalo]

Vera is referring to the notorious "wide right" field goal attempt of '91. Bills kicker Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal attempt that would have put the Bills two ahead of the New York Giants with only four seconds to go.

As the only city whose NFL team lost four consecutive Super Bowl games, Vera's bet on what Buffalonians miss is a pretty safe one.

But when the Bills do win, that feeling can (momentarily) erase all the hard times. That's why Cindy Heideman, now a resident of McNeal, Ariz., cited the Bills stadium as one of her favorite memories of Buffalo.

"The crowds at the stadium whenever the Bills won just rocks your soul," said the Buffalo native. "No place like home."

[Related gallery: You know you're from Buffalo if...]

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