For the 12th straight year, members of the Buffalo Bills gathered at Ralph Wilson’s Williamsville home to watch the excitement of this weekend’s NFL Playoff games.
“It’s important to us to keep these kinds of traditions alive,” Bills RB Fred Jackson said during a particularly thrilling moment of Sunday’s Broncos/Steelers game. “Some of the newer players don’t get to experience the energy of watching other teams compete in the playoffs in Ralph’s basement very often. It’s a nice thing for them that we do this.”
The tradition began in January of 2000, the week after Buffalo lost to the Tennessee Titans in the fabled “Music City Miracle.” The dejected team gathered at Wilson’s home to watch the rest of the playoffs unfold that year and ended up having a great time bonding, reveling and generally “hanging-out.”
Former Bills WR, Eric Moulds remembers that get-together fondly. “It was so much fun…just being with the guys on that team. You know, eating nachos and shooting pool,” he recounted. “And there were some great football games, too. It was just a special time.”
The team enjoyed the bonding and merriment so much that they made it a point to meet back at Wilson’s fully-finished basement a year later to watch the 2001 Playoffs when they failed to make the postseason. The second gathering was just as effective and memorable as the first. The players decided, then and there, that this would become an annual tradition.
“It’s really something I was looking forward to when I got here,” current OLB and recent addition to the roster, Shawne Merriman, gushed over a completely unironic plate of Buffalo-style chicken wings. ”I’d heard the stories of the camaraderie that comes from these parties. It didn’t disappoint. I look forward to more of these events in future years.”
The team hopes to meet next week at Wilson’s to watch the second round games and continue the poker tournament – a relatively new tradition that began in 2004.
“The poker is always a hit, sure. We also usually do a mass Spades tourney with some of the Houston Texans players, but they weren’t able to make it this year,” Jackson sighed. “There’s always next year.”