Matt Kabel – Co-Founder
Being from Orchard Park, I was a Bills fan in the womb. I remember bumping into Jim Kelly in church, Andre Reed in my high school, and Corey Louchiey was one of my weekly customers at the store I worked at. I remember in college the “Flutie-mania” that swept Western New York, and then the QB controversy the following year that I never truly got to experience from the confines of Fordham University in the Bronx. I started to feel out of the Buffalo Bills loop.
With graduating college came extra free time, and I wanted to dedicate a lot of that time to something I love. At the time of my graduation, there was no real organized place for Bills fans to watch games. I got in touch with the contact for Bills fans in NYC, Mark Bishopp, and we decided to rejuvenate the NYC Bills Backers, which came easy to me due to my career in event planning. I met Matt Soreco on a message board and he had web design skills that Mark and I most certainly did not have. So with Mark’s Bills fan contacts, Matt’s web skills, and my event planning skills and connections with McFadden’s, we were a match made in Bills heaven and the rest is history!
Matt Soreco – Co-Founder
I’m a rare breed of Bills fan. I’m from downstate. Yonkers to be exact. I’m frequently asked how I became a Bills fan. So how did it happen? When I was about 3 or 4, for whatever reason at that age, I just didn’t want to like the Jets or Giants. My older brother said, “you know, there’s one other “New York” team…” I’m a Bills fan ever since.
I luckily hooked up with Matt Kabel while posting on a Bills fan message board. He asked if I knew about a Backers in NYC. I didn’t know such a thing even existed at the time. I had spent years going to sports bars catching the Bills on a TV without the sound of the game. Years of being the only Bills fan in the house. So when Matt mentioned the prospect of resurrecting a Bills club in NYC, I jumped at the chance to help out. It’s been one heck of a ride ever since!
Phil Mann – Advisor
I was born and raised in Niagara Falls, NY, and sort of educated at SUNY Brockport before moving to NYC right after college graduation. While I followed the Bills as a kid, baseball was really my sport (go Reds). Then, right before opening day in 1991, I heard about a Bills bar in Manhattan called Name That Joint (or maybe it was Name This Joint. I could never remember, even though I eventually wound up spending half of my waking hours there. That’s probably why I couldn’t remember.) I was missing the simplicity of home, and suddenly finding myself in a huge group of Western NYers felt like going home.
Nearly 15 years later, I haven’t missed a Bills game since — even when it has meant having someone Fed Ex a game tape to me at a Caribbean port while I was on a family cruise (of course, I avoided hearing about the result of the game before receiving the tape). Unlike 15 years ago, I now have two small children, but that doesn’t stop me from seeing the games. My wife knew that would be the case when we got married. After all, I “met” the Bills before I met her.
Mike Coniaris – Photographer
A native of Queens, NY, Mike became a Buffalo Bills fan in 1984 when the then New York Jets left his home state for the swamps of New Jersey. Part of the original Brother Jimmy’s crowd, Mike came over a few years ago to join the Bills Backers at McFadden’s/Calico Jacks, and can often be found at the far end of the bar at Calico’s.
He recently declared himself of sound mind and spirit after suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome following his Super Bowl XXV trip to Tampa, FL.
While he tries his best, the photos from earlier in a game tend to be more in focus than later on. Some say this is due to the drink special, but one can never tell. When not obsessing about his favorite football team, he is the interim director of communications at midtown Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church (www.fapc.org).
Kevin Smith – Vice President
“I wasn’t born in Buffalo, I don’t HAVE to be a Bills fan!” That was me, age 8, after my parents informed me it was time I accept my heritage and that I did indeed have to be a Bills fan. Who could have known that 15 years later, after countless thrills, heartaches and hangovers, I’d be wearing a giant foam chicken wing and screaming like a lunatic on Sundays at McFadden’s.
Even though I grew up in the Connecticut suburbs, Buffalo has always been in my blood. My parents were born and raised there, and ever since I can remember Christmas and Fourth of July meant shufflin’ off to “the motherland” to visit with the 40+ members of my extended family that still call it home. As I grew older and was able explore all that Buffalo has to offer, from partying on Chippewa to tailgating at the Pinto, I was hooked and now I’m proud to call it my adopted home. I look forward to seeing everyone at the games and tailgates. I’m easy to spot, as I’ll usually have on something ridiculous, be it a buffalo head mounted on a trucker hat or the occasional giant chicken wing.
Anna Bazzini – Photographer
I’m originally from Lancaster, NY. I didn’t grow up a Bills fan. I remember hearing the sounds of football and hockey games in the background as a little girl, I just wasn’t interested.
I moved here when I was in my late teens. The longer I was away from home the more important all things Buffalo became. Eventually, I started to pay attention to football, just in time for all the Super Bowl trips. Now I don’t remember what life was like before being a fan.
The Buffalo Bills aren’t just a team to me, they (no matter the players’ names) are part of my identity. It’s been a long haul but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Michelle Girardi – Columnist
My “why I love the Bills” tale is pretty much the same as anyone else’s who was born near the east banks of Lake Erie. I was born, and the town elders passed the divine rite of Buffalo Bills Fandemonium onto me. There was no discussion, no questioning. We eat, we breathe, and win or lose, we love the Bills.
Between the “Bills Fan Parking Only” sign on the front of our garage and gathering with the neighbors after church to cheer on Bills during their heyday, I took some fine lessons in how to be a fan. I also had other role models: my uncles, my brother, Grandma, and even the nuns and priests at school taught me how to properly root for my team. Supposedly, God is a Bills fan. This remains to be seen.
The result of my training is the crazy hooligan you’ve seen an McFadden’s as of late, so the family and the town of Cheektowaga have clearly done their jobs. I just hope I can continue to make them proud! GO BILLS!
Nick Flickinger – Columnist
With my dad being a big bills fan, I was indoctrinated early. I’ve been a Bills fan since I knew what football was. I caught the last few years with Jim Kelly, but really started getting hooked with Flutie. I was the last person in the world to admit that Rob Johnson was a bad quarter back, Rob himself even admitted it before I did. My dad has never missed a home Bills playoff game or Super Bowl in the history of the franchise, and tried to start getting me into the tradition early. Although for some reason my mother thought that a 3 year old with a fever shouldn’t be in the middle of then Rich Stadium in the middle of January. Little Nicky had to watch “The Comeback” on TV. I’ve been going to different sports bars every week since I was 9 to watch the Bills, the waitresses always said I was the cutest person there. In 2002 my dad and I discovered the wonderful Bills fan paradise that is McFadden’s. If I’m not at the game, I’m watching it in Calico Jack’s (the restaurant/bar connected to McFadden’s). I have been writing for my school’s sports magazine, and since the most of any week in the fall is spent discussing the upcoming game, writing about it just seemed natural. I’ve cheered for the Bills, cried when the Titans threw and illegal forward pass, and now will officially not be a minor when the Bills win their first Super Bowl.
Ryan Thompson, Esq. – Advisor
Born in Buffalo, raised in Orchard Park, and schooled downtown, the Buffalo Bills were simply a part of my everyday life. For us, being a Bills fan was almost a mandatory requirement. The team was as much of a part of our city as snow and chicken wings. It was in your blood whether you liked it or not. And I learned that when I left home at 18, and ironically found myself more of a Bills fan than ever. Because no longer was it just about a football team, it was about hometown pride. And from Buffalo to Boulder to Belfast to Boston to Brooklyn, as I moved around, I became more and more devoted to cheering on our continuing quest for those gold, diamond-encrusted rings.
It was in Boston, while working as a newspaper reporter, that I got my first dose of the organization called the Bills Backers, and I spent my Sundays in the fall drinking $2 beers at the Harp. And when I moved to New York, after initially being rejected by those Brother Jimmy-bastards, I finally found McFadden’s in time for the inaugural season, and I’ve been here ever since. Now I don’t ever want to leave. Bury me at McFadden’s on a Sunday, with a gravestone that simply reads, “A Bills Fan.”