Hello. My name is Duane. Those who just know who I am here in Buffalo just know me as that idiot who lost his mind a year ago on the radio over the state of the Sabres. And yeah, that’s partly true. I live to watch and support the Buffalo Sabres. Watching them is the reason I began playing when I was ten years old. Then seeing Dominik Hasek play for the first time was when I decided I wanted to be a goalie. For most of my playing career, I wore his number 39, like most goalies in this area did during that era. He was the G.O.A.T. Without question. I even now cohost a podcast titled “2 Goalies 1 Mic” with my good friend Johnny Cullen, or better known as “Cully”. We take our passion for the game and relay it through the microphones to whoever wants to listen.
Sports has always been an outlet, and playing hockey was an escape from a very harsh reality. I suffered a lot of bullying in my childhood that would eventually lead to depression. I took pride in knowing my importance on the team. That a game can be won or lost because of me. Even though my career or lack thereof didn’t go as I hoped, I take pride in some of the moments I’ve had. The lack thereof has led me to coach for the past decade. I guess I know what not to do so well that I’ve decided to teach younger goalies how to avoid those bad habits.
Going to, and watching Sabres games was always a way for me to relate and interact with people. It was a common ground where my knowledge and passion were accepted and even appreciated in casual conversation. Because of that passion, I was able to make friends and even still hold onto some of those relationships today. So as you can see, this team played a major role in my childhood and the relationships I developed along the way.
Those who actually know me, and just not who I am, know that I share that same passion for the Bills. I’ve been through it all with this team. Every single QB since the Flutie/Johnson controversy that resulted in a non-call forward lateral and a Music City Miracle. There was a parade thrown for Drew Bledsoe when we signed the former Patriot. Little did we know the guy that took over for him would make our lives a living hell for the next two decades. Then there was J.P. Lohsman, Kelly Holcomb, Trent Edwards, Brian Freaking Brohm, EJ Manuel, and Tyrod Taylor, to name a few more. There was also Fitzpatrick, and we loved Fitz and still do to this day. The endless carousel of Quarterbacks to wear a Bills jersey since Kelly retired almost seemed endless. Then we drafted this guy named Josh.
Like I said before, I hated the pick. I watched college games and listened to a lot of analysts. I was actually high on you the year before. The arm was remarkable and your size is what you want in a franchise quarterback. But again, I didn’t pay close enough attention. I didn’t realize the pro-style offense you played in with Wyoming. Then I listened to local media, where we even had a radio personality threaten to quit his job if they picked you. He stayed true to his word too and resigned from his position a few weeks later.
Josh Allen says he has seen the 'Josh Allen apology' form going around on social media.
— Dan Fetes (@danfetes) September 30, 2020
The first season was very memorable. You grew on me; slowly but surely. Your willingness to put your own body on the line for the betterment of the team. You never gave up on a play, and sometimes played “Hero ball”, which at times worked out in your favor, and other times it didn’t. Your coming-out party though was that game versus Minnesota. That absolute beatdown of the Vikings and your hurdle over linebacker Anthony Barr en route to a first down. The image ended up as people’s profile pictures, backgrounds, posters, and t-shirts. It was then we all started to believe we may have something special in this kid. Something special that had been missing for so long; that never say die attitude. The leadership in the huddle, on the field, and in the locker room. You made not just your teammates, but us, the fans, want to walk down a dark alley with you into battle.
Then year two, a year with so many more ups than the previous season. A year that yeah, ended in a playoff loss in overtime to the Houston Texans, but gave us fans more reasons to believe that we finally found our quarterback. You ended that season with 29 total touchdowns and over 3,000 yards passing. Your ability to run the ball, albeit wasn’t as on full display as it was your rookie year, was still a huge weapon in your arsenal. But that one question that would in a way still haunt you since your draft day was still there. Can the accuracy improve? Can he hit the long ball? I asked these questions myself too. But the biggest difference between your draft day and then was I was defending you. I believed in you. You made all of us “Billieve”.
Then we get to the present day. Going into a week 16 matchup against the now dethroned New England Patriots. The newly crowned AFC East Champion Buffalo Bills look to win their 12th game of the season, something that hasn’t been done since 1993. A chance to possibly take sole possession of second place in the AFC. You’ve already thrown for 30 touchdowns, and rushed for 8 more. Thrown for 4000 yards, and already been selected to your first Pro Bowl. Countless offensive NFL player of the week honors and helped put Buffalo on the map again to national media. I know you, being the humble guy that you are give all the credit to your team, but we here in Buffalo know that without you, we would probably be looking at another “In the Hunt” season. Oh yeah, I forgot, your completion percentage is now near the top of the league at 68.7%. This is almost 10% higher than the previous season, which is insane when you think about it.
It's been a long time coming…
Your Buffalo Bills are AFC East Champions. pic.twitter.com/YTaAZqzEXk
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) December 20, 2020
It’s wild what’s changed in just a few years. Ending a seemingly endless playoff drought, to finding a franchise and hopefully MVP quarterback, to winning our division for the first time since I was 8 years old. Getting to see the best quarterback/wide receiver tandem in the league with you and Stefon Diggs. We hope what you both do together will far eclipse that of Jim Kelly and Andre Reed. But having said all of that. Admitting I was wrong. Telling the story of the Bills throughout this “letter” that you may never even read, I just want to convey how important you are to this city. You symbolize what we think of ourselves, and the image we would prefer to portray about ourselves to those outside Western New York. Our willingness to give to those in need. Our ability to band together when things are tough. Someone needs help digging themselves out of the snow? We got this. You’re family, even if we don’t know one another. I have your back, and you have mine. That’s how we feel about you now Josh. That you’re in the trenches with us. That you’d dig our car out of the side of the 190 South after a band of lake effect has blanketed us with 4 feet of snow.
A little Josh Allen throwing dimes for your feed
— 24/7 Bills (11-3) (@alldaybuffalo) December 23, 2020
It’s always easier to be loved though too when you’re winning, and it isn’t often our city is blessed with two MVP caliber players like both you and Jack Eichel. So let’s hope Jack and company can give us another reason to cheer a few months from now. Because if that happens, Josh, you think you’ve seen Buffalo at its best now, just wait until both the Bills and Sabres are rolling. Because it’s then, you’ll see just how special this fanbase can be.
Thanks Josh……I’ll hang up and listen.