Barstool Sports released a documentary on Bills tailgating Tuesday, simply titled, "#BillsMafia." Here are five takeaways from the nine-and-a-half minute video:
(Note: We can't share the video here for obvious reasons, but it's on Barstool's Twitter page if you're interested. It definitely qualifies as "not safe for work.")
1. If the Bills are serious about wanting to curtail tailgating theatrics, winning some games would help.
The most poignant scene in the documentary came at the 5-minute mark, after the narrator introduced the Bills' record 17-year playoff drought.
"The problem with the Bills," one fan said, "I mean, we love 'em, but the product on the field's obviously sucked for years. So we have our fun with the tailgate, and that's how it all started."
That quote was spot-on. I spent two years doing Tailgate Reports for the News, meeting fans in the parking lots and fields around the stadium for hours before every game. The overwhelming sentiment I gathered from hard-partying tailgaters was this: Taking a few hours out of your weekend to root on your sports team is supposed to be an escape from the problems you'll be returning to on Monday. But since the games usually add to fans' misery instead of relieving it, tailgates became the new coping mechanism instead.
In short, Bills fans needed a distraction from their distraction – and it came conveniently at the same source as the first one.
Fans now make tailgating the highlight of their weekend, since they feel the game probably won't be. And once viral videos started pouring in, it snowballed, with people trying to one-up each other and make websites like Deadspin or Barstool every week.
Word is the Bills are aghast at the repeated tailgate stunts (which, for the record, often occur on privately owned land and not Bills-owned lots), but the root of the problem seemed to be that the games themselves don't get it done for a significant number of fans. That doesn't excuse any behavior, but what I gathered from the lots was that the pregame wouldn't be nearly as intense if the team was less of a letdown on the field. There's always going to be drinking outside of every NFL stadium, but only one city's antics have a documentary on Barstool.
2. On the other hand ... this is all going away if/when the Bills move to a downtown stadium.
News reporter Tim Graham tweeted this after watching the documentary, and I had the exact same thought:
The Barstool Sports video should be titled "Why Bills Fans Won't Have Tailgating When The New Stadium Gets Built."
— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) June 20, 2017
There are still plenty of hurdles to the Bills moving downtown, and New Era Field just finished some expensive renovations, but moving to a shiny new stadium at some point just feels like it's the NFL way (right after they threaten relocation unless taxpayers pony up a couple hundred million dollars, of course). The Pegulas are buying up property downtown, seemingly for legitimate enterprises so far, but the stadium idea is never far from our minds. A downtown stadium would be the end of tailgating as Bills fans know it.
3. "Bills Mafia" doesn't mean drunken stunts.
I get that the moniker is a calling card for Bills fans, and many viral tailgate videos are simply tagged #BillsMafia, but it's worth mentioning that the story behind the group has nothing to tailgating stunts.
The official Bills Mafia account made sure to point that out Tuesday shortly after the Barstool video came out. Read the story in the tweet to learn more about Stevie Johnson and the origins of the group. The piece was written for the News by Janine Talley, wife of Bills legend Darryl Talley.
— Buffalo FAMbase (@TheBillsMafia) June 20, 2017
4. About those guys who threw something onto the field...
The documentary spent one segment with two Bills fans who threw a sex toy onto the field during the Bills-Patriots game in November (and Barstool even interviewed their mother, bless her heart).
So from the Actions Have Consequences Department, a reminder that the throwers were later caught and given lifetime bans from New Era Field and every other NFL stadium. (How they enforce that, I have no idea.)
5. Putting aside the Not Safe For Work-ness of the video, it was pretty well done.
Spencer German of 105.5 The Team in Rochester tweeted this after watching the documentary:
I'll say this, Barstool has a future in documentaries.
— Spencer T. German (@Spencito_) June 20, 2017
... and he was right. In fact, a marketing firm for Barstool says the website will roll out four more documentaries over the next six months (not all about the Bills, thank goodness).
So if you liked "#BillsMafia," you're in luck – there's more where that came from.
Story topics: Bills tailgating