My 91-year-old mom is a member of Bills Mafia. No, she doesn’t head to the backyard to jump on a folding table to break it.
But my mom, Betty Fox, has rooted for the Buffalo Bills ever since she went to games in the old War Memorial Stadium with her husband to watch the team that played back then in the All-America Football Conference in the 1940s.
They eloped on a train from Buffalo to Boston where he was stationed in the Marines.
A few years later, he died in a car crash, leaving my mom a single mother at the age of 23 with two young daughters.
Her interest in football waned until I got to be a fan when I was a kid years later.
After that, there was lots of football and the Buffalo Bills.
Every week during the season, two of her granddaughters — and their boyfriends — came over for a big Sunday dinner and to watch football, mostly Buffalo Bills games. She joined me, my friends, those granddaughters and other family members on the drive from Rochester to Orchard Park to a couple of games every year to sit, sometimes in the pouring rain or cold. Before the season even began, we attended training camps at St. John Fisher in Rochester.
But this season is different. Not only because the Bills beat the Patriots twice, became the AFC East Division champions and won a playoff game for the first time in a quarter century.
We haven’t be able to watch the games together like we have for so, so many years.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed that. My mom is a resident at Summit Village. It’s a quiet place where the threat of COVID still lingers. She cannot see her family. She is so lonely.
But we still have the Bills. We’ve still shared this special season for the Bills Mafia. The Bills won 11 games this year on their way to the division title.
The Bills have been the highlight of her week each game this season.
Before every game, we’ve talked on the phone about how we thought the Bills were going to do. After the game, we’ve talked about the game and how they did. And how much she missed going to games.
The road to the Super Bowl is reminding her of Jim Kelly leading the Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls three decades ago. He remains my mom’s favorite player of all time.
Despite those four Super Bowl losses, she still roots for the Bills all of these years later.
“Oh, my goodness. They’re really good,” she said about the 17-3 win over the Ravens last Saturday.
She hopes for two more victories. She thinks they have a good shot at beating Kansas City in the AFC Championship on Sunday.
In this season of COVID, nothing would make this nonagenarian happier than for Buffalo to finally win their first Super Bowl.
She’ll be in her third-floor room at Summit Village. But we’ll be celebrating their win together.
Staff writer Craig Fox covers the city of Watertown for the Daily Times.