“You had better learn how to play the game, and I don't mean just the game of football.” – “North Dallas Forty”
I’m a big Buffalo Bills fan.
I’m not just the guy who can talk your ear off about the 1990s glory days of the team (and excitedly show you his autographed footballs from Jim Kelly and Bruce Smith.) I was stupidly there (or at least in some sports bar) for the nine seasons in a row where the team didn’t even have a winning record. In my own private Mardi Gras, I was there in Jacksonville in 2018 when the team unexpectedly went to the playoffs after not being there since 1999. (Spoiler alert: we lost.)
But I’m most definitely not going be there in Buffalo this Saturday to watch their first home playoff game in 24 years.
After keeping fans away from the games throughout the regular season because of the coronavirus, Governor Andrew Cuomo is changing course, announcing last week that he’s come up with a plan to admit about 6,700 fans who will first be tested for the virus.
The decision comes in the wake of New Yorkers being told to avoid getting together for the holidays. And while infections are on the rise, Cuomo is picking an odd time to encourage New Yorkers to travel to a football stadium. Mixed messages, anyone?
Although the game is outside and fans will be distanced because so few people will be in the stands, it’s a different story when it comes to bathrooms and other entrance and exit points. And the blood-alcohol level of the average fan at a Bills game doesn’t exactly encourage the good judgment that’s demanded by a pandemic.
The governor says he hopes that the Bills game will somehow serve as a pilot program to keep businesses running, but it’s unclear what coronavirus lessons can be applied from an outdoor football game to Madison Square Garden or Carnegie Hall.
Cuomo on Monday announced that the more infectious strain of the virus has been found upstate in Saratoga Springs. This might be a good time to call a reverse on opening up the stadium. I’ll see you in Buffalo – next season.