Single page view By Don Barone
Special to Page 2

In a sport where everyone pats each other's butts … can I ask, please don't pat mine?

Or the butts of the 71,781 people in line next to me.

It's 40 minutes before kickoff, Gate 9, and I'm waiting in line behind a 7-year-old.

And he's being patted down.


Don't know his name. Don't really think it's Losman, as the name on his back says -- least I hope not. Rookies, ya never know.

The 4-foot, 60-pound offender is wearing a replica No. 7 jersey that reaches to his knees, and a backpack with a teddy bear wearing a Bills helmet. A Fisher Price throwback.

Losman sticks his small arms straight out, as a guy in an ugly bright yellow shirt is feeling the kid's cargo pants.

Off to the side, on the other side of the rail, a cop in full uniform -- badge, gun and mustache -- is searching the bear backpack.

Welcome to the NFL.

Male Pattern Bonding
It's opening week, 80 degrees at Ralph Wilson Stadium, only a slight chance of snow. I'm wearing shorts to a Bills game. Wide right is almost forgiven.

Jimmy's 17th birthday present: An 800-mile round-trip to Buffalo, 36 hours in the land of the Bills, $3.76 per gallon gas on the New York Thruway -- "Ahh … it's your Christmas present too …" -- father, son and friend Andrew on a road trip.

It's Jimmy's first home opener of his beloved Buffalo Bills. (And he is still pleading with me not to use his real name, for fear the Bills' police will never let him go to another Bills game. "Dad, just say you brought Ashley, she doesn't care.")

For Andrew, the only other Bills-loving kid in our small, neighborly, love-our-team-or-leave New England town, it's "The first time I've ever been to a Bills game and not been threatened" trip. Andy's dad is a lifelong Patriots fan/season-ticket holder. Andrew, brave beyond his years, wears his Jim Kelly jersey to all the Bills' games in Foxboro.

From the back of the minivan I hear, "I've never actually seen them win either." Great. In the rearview mirror I'm looking at bad-luck Patriots DNA in a $70 McGahee replica jersey.


Turn left at Springfield, cruise control set to 72, chicken wings in 6½ hours, seven with "not again, Dad" bathroom stops.

It's a father-son legacy to bitch about the Buffalo Bills, passed on from my dad, to me, to Jim. Maybe Andrew too, if I can sneak it by his father. Male pattern bonding, I-90 westbound style.

I was going to use the drive to pass on the family heirloom knowledge: "Jimmy, the Dolphins are evil." (I was actually going to modernize and use the Patriots, but I knew Andrew was faking being asleep, and his father is an attorney.)

Instead, just past Schenectady, my third-generation Bills fan asked me, "Are they going to touch my balls?"

At mile 300-something, talk of who else we hate in the AFC East ended, replaced by talk of the NFL stadium policy of father and son frisking. Wives and daughters, too.

Before leaving for the game, I told my wife Barb about the new NFL rule this season of patting down every fan going into every NFL game.

Barb, not being a fan of smelly guys, or sports in general, responded, "Great, just what I'd like to do -- go to a football game and get felt up by the NFL."

Jimmy, obviously, must have been listening.

Andrew was now wide awake.

Game Day minus 1
Andrew, still not realizing he's safe in Buffalo, keeps pointing out all the people in "Bills stuff." As far as I can tell, he's yet to be threatened.

Since I wanted him to have a present too, I told him that I would look around to see if I can find someone wearing a Patriots hat, "and you can tell him he's a jerk, if he's not too big."


Sports radio, dateline Buffalo: "Can Kelly still throw?" "Losman this, Losman that." Lots of comments I can't say about Bledsoe because I actually like the guy (and after spending several hundred dollars on Bledsoe Bills stuff I'm still trying to cut my losses with Jimmy, hoping he won't toss it if he thinks the guy is a great sportsman, or if the stuff is worth something on eBay). And three radio guys broadcasting from a Canadian casino take calls from listeners who mainly comment, "The Dolphins suck."



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