Remember the Dizzy Bat fan who slammed headfirst into a parked bus before the Bills game last weekend? Of course you do. That video was everywhere.
Dizzy Bat fan's name is Paul Nieman. The first thing you should know about Paul is that he’s OK.
“It seriously didn’t hurt at all,” Nieman said Friday. The panel he crashed into on the front of the bus – somebody else’s bus, by the way – had some give to it and essentially broke his fall. No concussion. No soreness. No doctors.
“We’re golden,” he said. “If it would’ve been an actual school bus, I probably would’ve been in the hospital.”
The second thing you should know about Paul is that he’s no amateur. At 26 years old, Nieman’s a Dizzy Bat veteran who estimated he’s played the party game more than a hundred times in his life.
“We do that at every concert, tailgate, whatever,” he said.
So what happened Sunday? Nieman said he’d never had a crash landing before.
“Usually we do it on a grass field,” he said. “I don’t know. We were going crazy that day. It was the home opener.”
* * *
Nieman grew up in Western New York and graduated from Depew High School. He played tight end at Division III Buffalo State for a year before back surgeries forced him to hang up the cleats. He has season tickets in Section 204.
Last Sunday started like most other Buffalo Bills Sundays. Nieman put on jeans and a Mario Williams jersey and headed to a friend’s house to meet up for their bus to the game. The first beer was cracked before 8 a.m.
Nieman’s squad for the home opener was rolling about 40 friends deep. They arrived at Ralph Wilson Stadium before the bus lot opened at 9 and set up shop as soon as they parked.
Nieman and his friends took turns at Dizzy Bat, all without incident. A group of Canadian tailgaters next to them had never seen the drinking game before but were fascinated.
“They never heard of [Dizzy Bat] or saw anybody play it so they were filming us for honestly like two hours,” Nieman said. “They were blown away by the tailgate.”
Nieman drank Bud Light and Fireball whiskey as he heckled Colts fans. Around 11 a.m. he grabbed the sawed-off Wiffle ball bat for another turn at his favorite tailgate game. He doesn’t remember how many drinks he had in him at the time. But he poured another beer down the barrel, chugged it, and spun around one time for each second it took him to finish the beer.
Nieman’s friends – Greg Osika, Jake Maryniewski and Mark Szymczak chief among them – counted seconds as if they were about call “blitz” in a touch football game and told him he owed eight spins.
Nieman complied and prepared for the final part of the game, hitting the “pitch” of his empty beer can. That’s how you win, he said.
Osika’s toss was not a strike. Nieman whiffed. His momentum took him straight toward the bus, and he was far too dizzy to do anything about it.
“The bus was fine,” Nieman said. “Good thing that panel had some give to it because it didn’t really hurt at all.
“I’ve been giving [Osika] crap,” he added, “because the pitch was so far inside it made me fly right into the bus.”
Sheesh, I feel like I got hit by a bus.....oh wait.
— #dizzybatkid (@pnieman24) September 14, 2015
* * *
The video ends shortly after Nieman’s face plant. He said he stayed on the ground for a minute until the dizziness from the spin wore off, then got back up. He took another turn of Dizzy Bat about 15 minutes later.
“Everyone kind of gathered around to make sure it didn’t happen again,” he said.
Nieman and his friends had no idea they were part of a viral video. They still don’t know who shot the video that’s been going around the Internet. Perhaps it was one of their Canadian friends.
“We’re all having fun together and an hour later I’ve got my Twitter blowing up, my phone’s ringing off the hook from people I haven’t heard from in 10 years, it’s just been crazy all week,” Nieman said. “It didn’t stop all week.”
The website Deadspin had the video first, and then so did every other site, including this one. Nieman said the video was also shown before ESPN’s Monday Night Football, on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and on ESPN2’s “His & Hers.” Shredd and Ragan had Nieman on their radio show Wednesday.
Nieman’s mother was less thrilled for her son’s new fame.
“At first she was a little embarrassed,” Nieman admitted. “And then she saw all the attention it was getting and it was all in good fun.”
Nieman and his friends had a good laugh this week reading the comments about him online. Irresponsible? Disgraceful? “Western New York’s finest”? Nonsense, he said.
“I’m not mad at all. Obviously I look like an idiot doing it but it was all in good fun,” he said. “Nobody’s really taken serious shots at me. I’m not embarrassed by it at all. I’m just taking it in stride. It’s been pretty fun actually.”
Nieman and his friends are having shirts made for this week’s tailgate. The screenshot of him smacking into the bus will be on the front, and he’ll have #DizzyBatKid – the hashtag he and his friends are using – on the back, while other shirts will say “I party with #DizzyBatKid.”
The News offered Nieman a “Tailgate Redemption” Sunday, along the lines of the popular Tosh.0 segment. He accepted, but not before being asked if the idea of retiring from Dizzy Bat altogether had crossed his mind this week.
“No way,” he said. “Not a chance.”
-- -- -- -- --
Follow Nick Veronica on Twitter @NickVeronica
-- -- -- -- --
BONUS: Learn the Dizzy Bat rules straight from Dizzy Bat Kid:
"What you need to play is a standard Whiffle ball bat. And you just cut where you hold the bat, cut that right off. Then you need a beer. Pour the beer inside the hole in the bat. You need to keep the can because your buddy, when you're done spinning, he pitches you the can. You win by hitting the can. So you down your beer and everybody counts, and however many seconds it takes, that’s how many spins you have to do. So if I'm chugging for eight seconds, I have to do eight spins. Then I have to gather myself when I'm done spinning and he pitches the can at you and then you hit it to win."