It’s a time-honored rite of passage among Bills fans: You buy your favorite player’s jersey, and then that player either leaves the team in free agency or is traded away for pennies on the dollar.
Marcell Dareus fans took part in the storied tradition this week, when the Bills traded the defensive tackle, a former third overall draft pick, to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a sixth-round pick in next year’s draft.
Dareus jerseys were spotted Sunday morning among tailgaters outside New Era Field before the Bills’ Week Eight matchup with the Oakland Raiders.
Brian Zilbauer, of West Seneca, and Matt Malinowski, of Cheektowaga, both wore Dareus’ No. 99 jersey at their tailgate party in a parking lot along Southwestern Boulevard.
“Process,” Zilbauer said, echoing one of the favorite words of Bills head coach Sean McDermott, perhaps adopted from the Philadelphia 76ers’ model for rebuilding through shedding assets and accumulating draft picks. “Trust the process.”
Zilbauer said Dareus – who was disciplined by the team and league over the years for behavioral issues – was “a little misunderstood” and “got a bad rap.”
“I wish him luck,” Zilbauer said.
But, he added, the Bills, who also traded former first-round pick Sammy Watkins this year, “need to retain talent.”
With the trade having only happened Friday night, the Bills haven't had time to update some signage featuring their now-former player, as evidenced by one sign along Abbott Road.
Kyle McLaughlin, of Tonawanda, was happy about the Dareus trade.
“Free up some cap space,” he said, referring to money saved from the balance of the six-year, $96 million deal Dareus signed in 2015. “He was just dead here. He wasn’t worth it.”
McLaughlin also donned a Dareus jersey – but with one important alteration.
In place of the DAREUS nameplate, McLaughlin taped a piece of paper reading, “6 Rounder.”