Stories from the stands: AFC East

Updated: August 27, 2008, 9:36 PM ET
ESPN SportsTravel


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Buffalo Bills
Tony Califano

Ralph Wilson Stadium has its own version of the Blues Brothers, a trio of end-zone dwellers known as the "Bills Brothers."

Sure, Buffalo might have fallen on hard times since one of the most successful runs in league history resulted in four straight Super Bowl appearances starting in 1991.

But there's no reason for these three amigos -- siblings Ed and Tony Califano and friend Robin Brooks -- to be down. Quite the opposite.

"We get the place going," said Tony Califano, 56, of Pittsford, N.Y., who hasn't missed a home game -- be it preseason, regular season or postseason, or be it rain, sleet or snow -- since 1986. "We're pretty boisterous down there."

Tony Califano
Spot Tony Califano and his Brothers in the end zone.
It's the companionship that folks around their front-row seats enjoy most, he said.

"We got respect down there," said Califano, a contract manager with the New York State Office of Mental Retardation & Developmental Disabilities. "There are a lot of people around us that have been there a long time. Some have moved downed to be next to us.

"It's because they have that much fun with us. We have camaraderie."

Califano's enjoying his 23rd season in the same seats, and you can't help but spot the Bills Brothers during kicks to their side of the field. Look for Tony in the old-fashioned leather helmet and No. 94 jersey.

He's even had the same parking spot this whole time (and seen parking prices jump from $5 to $20.)

On game days it's the same schedule: leave home at 7 a.m., into the lot at 9 and through the gates when they open at 11:30.

"We even have to go through a certain turnstile, because the ticket scanners insist on it because they have fun with us," Califano said. "They say, 'Now the game can begin.'"

Indeed, how could a tilt in Orchard Park kick off without Tony Califano and the Bills Brothers in the house?

— Brett Pauly

Miami Dolphins
Ernie Gorwood

At age 50, Ernie Gorwood could reflect and say his best days as the "Dynamic Dolfan" are behind him. But do we hang up our allegiances and passions at the half-century mark?

Certainly not Gorwood, a firefighter from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who's loyalty to the Dolphins go back to when he was growing up in Portland, Maine, deep in the heart of Patriots country. Understandably, he took a lot of ribbing from the Pats faithful when he was a budding Fins fan.

Ernie Gorwood
The man behind the "Dolfan" mask? Ernie Gorwood.
Dressing up in outrageously elaborate Dolphins garb since 1988, Gorwood said he takes his role as team ambassador quite seriously.

He always makes certain that no matter what happens on the field, he'll be at every game posing for photos with kids and using his celebrity status for charity and fund-raising events in south Florida.

It hasn't been cheap. Gorwood estimates he has spent some $10,000 over the years on rhinestones, face paint, shirts and other accessories to become the Dynamic Dolfan.

And his ego can take a hit, as well.

"Sometimes I look at this outfit in the morning and say to myself, 'Oh, no.'"

— Stuart Levine

New England Patriots
Mike Schuster

"One-hundred-and-fifty-two," Mike Schuster said matter-of-factly. "It's 152 steps."

That's the exact distance to Schuster's upper-deck seats at Gillette Stadium.

A stickler for details, Schuster claims to know just about all there is to know about the Patriots, being a die-hard follower ever since they moved from Boston to his hometown of Foxborough, Mass., in 1971.

Mike Schuster
Photo by Dan SchusterWill Mike Schuster sport a mohawk at season's end?
Schuster wears many hats -- a software developer, real-estate agent and actor. But on Sundays, Schuster wears Patriots garb from head to toe -- from patches and wristbands to pants and socks.

Schuster, 46, lives in a house (painted in Patriots hues, of course) that is close enough to the stadium he can tailgate in his backyard. He walks to the stadium about a half-hour before kickoff.

Schuster made a vow that if the Patriots ever made it to the Super Bowl he would shave the sides of his head, paint his noggin to look like a Patriots helmet and spike the rest of his mane into a mohawk. Little did he know he would do it so often in recent years.

(The haircut and styling alone takes two to three hours, plenty of Elmer's glue and lots of patience to complete.)

As for the previously unbeaten Patriots' Super Bowl loss to the Giants last season, "I try not to think about it," Schuster said.

"This year I think we will be favored to win it again."

— Tony Guadagnoli

New York Jets
Ira Lieberfarb

To be a true New York sports fan you can't just cheer your team. You have to know them.

Ira Lieberfarb knows the Jets. His is one of the most recognized call-in voices on New York sports-talk radio.

The 54-year-old Brooklyn native, who has worked as an auto-parts wholesaler for 36 years, began intensely studying the team in his mid-30s.

Ira Lieberfarb
Home and away, expect Ira Lieberfarb in the stands.
Lieberfarb's father started taking him to games in the 1960s, and his lifelong passion continues as a season-ticket holder.

Lieberfarb not only tailgates at home tilts, dressed in his white Joe Namath Super Bowl jersey, but also travels to all the road games.

When he began calling in to radio programs every Monday morning following a Jets game almost 15 years ago, his voice became familiar enough that, as he says, "some people like it and some don't, but you make a name for yourself."

Contrary to what some Big Apple sports aficionados might believe, Lieberfarb says he doesn't have access to a special phone number or preferential treatment at the stations.

You'd have to wonder, what with the frequency of his calls expounding on Jets trades and results. (With Brett Favre's arrival, it should be a particularly vociferous year, we imagine.)

No, Lieberfarb explains, "I'm just persistent with the redial and I get lucky."

— Anna Katherine Clemmons

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