Lucky few Bills fans cheer on team from stands for historic win

Emily Putnam
Updated: January 09, 2021 07:06 PM
Created: January 09, 2021 03:35 PM

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WHEC/AP) - The pared-down crowds at the Bills game Saturday did not pare-down the experience for Bills fans. 

When the Bills won a home playoff game 25 years ago, there were about 80,000 fans in the crowd. On Saturday there were about 6,700, per COVID restrictions set forth by Governor Andrew Cuomo. 

"It was strange seeing all the empty seats," said Bills fan Paul Kraft, who was in attendance at Saturday's winning game. "Oh my god, those are my family I call them, and there's like 72,000 of my family that weren't there today."

Despite the strangeness of empty seats, masks, and social distancing, camaraderie stayed strong among members of the Bills Mafia. 

"The camaraderie, even still with people around here is great," said Gary Barney. "It's a little less than normal, but it's the same as it always is."

The 6,700 fans who were in attendance were selected based on how long they had been season ticket holders. Saturday's game was a welcomed opportunity for longtime fans to participate in beloved traditions. 

"I went to my first game, my dad took me in 1998," said Bills fan Lee Behnke. "I didn't really know what it meant to come to a Bills game. I've been coming ever since. Now it's 2021, haven't seen a home playoff game yet. I'm here today and it's been a long time coming."

Fans told News10NBC that he nail-biter game, which ended with the Bills beating the Colts 27-24, provided a much-needed distraction from everything else going on in the world. 

"I feel like rejuvenated a little bit," said Paul Kraft. "With the pandemic and the way things have been, this actually made me, you know, it made me feel a lot better."

For the first time this season fans are on their way into the stadium to watch the #Bills play in person

— Rich Donnelly (@whec_rdonnelly) January 9, 2021

Here's an updated picture on what the crowd looks like for the #Bills game after the staggered time entry... still could have had a few more fans.

— Rich Donnelly (@whec_rdonnelly) January 9, 2021

News10NBC's Rich Donnelly talked with some excited fans at the stadium this afternoon: 

Regardless of the health restrictions, these fans are thrilled to get tickets to the #Bills first home playoff game in 24 years (1st home game with fans this year too)

— Rich Donnelly (@whec_rdonnelly) January 9, 2021

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