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Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Isolated stupidity shouldn't paint all Bills fans



Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


Based on the text messages that lit up my cell phone Monday night after the Buffalo Bills' retching 25-24 loss to the New England Patriots, I knew Leodis McKelvin wasn't going to be a popular man in Western New York this week.

But never would I have thought some Bills zealots would make it personal.
Elsa/Getty Images
Some Bills fans went too far in reaction to Leodis McKelvin’s fumble.

The Buffalo News and the Associated Press report vandals left a message on the front lawn of McKelvin's home in suburban Hamburg, N.Y., because he committed a crucial turnover in the final two minutes to help the Patriots pull off a stunning comeback victory.

As someone who has covered sports in Buffalo for almost a decade and is moving back to the area because of the people, I can state that Bills fans are some of the most respectful and passionate supporters I've ever encountered.

This is a region that chanted "We love Scott! We love Scott!" the day after Scott Norwood missed the field goal that would have won the Super Bowl.

"I've got to tell you right now that we're struggling with this right now," Norwood said, fighting through tears at City Hall in January 1991. "I know I've never felt more loved than this right now.

"We all realize the sun's going to come up tomorrow."

McKelvin's not feeling the love these days.

But McKelvin manned up after the game and faced reporters -- unlike Terrell Owens. Several teammates and Bills chief operating officer Russ Brandon buoyed McKelvin with forgiving embraces in the locker room.

But one or more mental midgets used white paint to spell out the game's final score and draw, according to the Buffalo News, "a graphic depiction of the male anatomy."

Ho ho! They sure zinged him!

It was a scene straight out of "All the Right Moves," when Coach Nickerson had his yard vandalized by the townies after a tough loss.

Bills linebacker Kawika Mitchell tweeted: "Its def not a game to b playin. W/ all the safety issues n the NFL its not funny at all. We have Fam at our homes to protect. If u show ur face on my prop Ill make sure I do everythin to keep my Fam safe."

Way to go, morons. Now you have players firing off warning shots.

This type of attention is not what the Bills needed. They've missed the playoffs nine years running, have gone 7-9 three straight seasons and are known for running their team on the cheap. Now people outside the area will think their fans are kooks.

What a marketing brochure that would be for prospective free agents.

The thing is, Buffalo's diehards have been the team's greatest selling point. The club sold 55,000 season tickets this year despite all the futility. Fans traveled to Canton in droves to see owner Ralph Wilson and defensive end Bruce Smith inducted last month.

The mark this incident leaves on the fan base will last much longer than whatever was on McKelvin's lawn.

But whoever perpetrated the sophomoric crime probably was stupid enough to brag about it. Here's hoping they get caught and receive the best punishment I can think of: having their pictures put on television so they can be humiliated in a very public way.

Maybe then they'll understand what it's like to make a mistake on national television.

As for the rest of Buffalo's fans, I have faith in them.

I'd love to see the Bills introduce their defense before Sunday's home opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to give the sellout crowd a chance to make amends.