Sports

Dispatches from the Ralph: Volume 3

This is the year the world finally takes notice that Buffalo has, by far, the craziest tailgaters on the continent.

by Graham Kritzer
Oct 21 2015, 5:28pm

Photo by Kirsten Schollig-Elite Sports Tours

This story originally appeared on VICE Sports Canada.

(Editor's note: Throughout the NFL season, we'll bring you some of the most wild stories from Ralph Wilson Stadium, as told through the eyes of one fan from Toronto. You can read previous dispatches here.)

Hoo boy. Like the pure, driven October snow ushered in by the cold arctic air rolling across Lake Erie, chaos blew into Orchard Park on Sunday bringing with it some of the rowdiest and downright most incredible tailgating I have ever been witness to.

You know how when you were little and you came home from school, walked in the door and your parents were like "Hey, how was school?" and you said "Fine" and then went to your room? But in actuality, you did some bad shit you didn't want to talk about and saw some things you can't unsee, and rehashing that whole experience would just be too painful? That's the kind of headspace I'm residing in after Sunday at The Ralph. I kind of just wanted to write an article titled Nothing Happened At The Ralph And I Certainly Didn't Lose What Little Faith I Had Left In Humanity, So Just Move On. But, yeah, that didn't happen.

READ MORE: Inopportune Knocks: Self Sabotage by NFL Coaches, Week 6

Alas, it is my sworn duty as a sometimes-journalist to bring you the reader to the cruel and unusual places men fear to go, and women dare not tread. Unless they're just cosmically inebriated.

I present my favorite of the oft-humorous and unquestionably despicable sights and sounds I witnessed at The Ralph this past weekend.

  • I watched a grown man pick up another equally as grown man and powerslam him through a collapsible wooden table. What preceded this was an argument over whether this event was actually going to take place. Boy, did it ever. The dude who was powerslammed, and probably at least kind of paralyzed, got up and wandered unsteadily into a bus most likely to remove the wood shards from his trachea. This earned him a hearty round of booing from the bloodthirsty crowd.

Just another day at The Ralph.

  • I watched a group of 20 or so grown men line up in a ten-across-ten formation. Then one member would open a beer. The goal was to get through the gauntlet without spilling your beer. Easy enough, I thought to myself. However, as I watched the first attempt, I realized I had neglected to factor in the direct face and kidney punching from all involved. Surprisingly, the first guinea pig spilled his beer and I think also some cerebrospinal fluid. This Roman spectacle continued for 20 minutes. EVERYONE was covered in beer, blood or both.
  • I watched several grown men place a larger grown man on a folding table, lift up his shirt and pour beer into his belly button. The frenzied weirdos proceeded to drink out of this man's button hole. This horrid practice was repeated many times, with new and willing participants. This is also about the time I heard God weep. Nobody else claimed to have heard it, but I did. And my unsolicited questions of "Did you hear God crying?" were met mostly with looks of concern.

Thirsty?

Around this time, the snow started falling faster than E.J. Manuel's quarterback rating, and I had hope that the flurries may force the hordes to retreat into their warm toilets or buses. I am but a dreamer, however, and not a man full of common sense. Naïve to some, an idiot to many.

The snow only served to incite the wobbly cluster of Budweiser depositories into further outlandish shenanigans.

A better way to enjoy beer(s) than drinking out of a belly button.

  • There was a man who looked to be about 45 wandering around in JUST his boxer shorts, pouring Miller Lite cans all over his face, generally giving a microscopically small amount of fucks. He had no shoes, no socks, and no cares in the world. It was 35 degrees Fahrenheit out, and there was more broken glass in that parking lot than actual gravel. There were also several other people—both male and female—who seemed to be comparing underwear as they all stood with their pants around their ankles, poking and smacking.

This next one is one of two extremely hilarious moments I had the great fortune of witnessing.

There was a lady walking across the road with a shopping cart filled to the brim with empty cans. Out of nowhere, this runaway freight train filled up with Fireball whisky just Goldberg-spears the cart and sends cans all over the road and sidewalk. He runs away and his buddy falls on the ground because he is laughing so hard. Then, after 20 seconds, he stops laughing because he fell asleep. On the sidewalk. The angry can lady kicked him in the ribs about five times before he got up and ran away. I was going to offer to help clean up the cans, but I had just received one hell of a manicure the previous day.

This trooper of a chair has seen some things over the years.

My second treasured gem from Sunday was something I've never seen attempted before, and now I understand why. Up for grabs was a Buffalo Bills toque—a hot commodity on a cold October day. Or when you're poor and spent all your money on Labatt Blue Light. Two gentlemen shook hands, agreed to terms, and took position.

Between them, on the parking lot ground, stood an unopened can of Budweiser.

The bet: If competitor No. 1 could kick the full can of beer through the uprights, which were just the arms of competitor No. 2 placed above his own head, then competitor No. 1 would win the toque. If he failed, competitor No. 2 would win it. Simple.

Competitor No. 1 took a good 20-foot running start, approached the can with speed, his brow furrowed with purpose, and hoofed that bastard directly into the mouth of competitor No. 2, who also happened to be chewing on a fat lipper of Cherry Skoal. Blood, chiclets and chaw everywhere. It was an Eli Roth film, on location on this guy's face. He did win a sweet toque, though, which he promptly used to soak up the various fluids escaping from his maw.

Honourable mentions:

  • A Bengals fan walking through the lot, taking a well-placed snowball upside the head from a good 40 feet away. He just kept on going.
  • A group of guys and gals who were literally showering in beer. All I can think of when I see this is what is your car going to smell like? Your parents are going to be unimpressed! Oh, and also, wasting beer and all that.

Did you not get the memo, dude on the right? Don't wear Blue Jays gear to a Bills game.

Every once in a while you would see a group of three or four Bengals fans cautiously traversing the fray. They were like survivors trying to wade through zombie hordes—wide-eyed and clutching their loved ones, just trying not to be noticed. Inevitably, as is wont to happen, they would be cornered and devoured, their heads left on display as a warning to others.

This was my 20th Bills game, and you could tell that the universe knew it. It was like "We're going to put on a show for you today. You like getting beer cans winged at your head? Well buckle up, sister!"

I'm physically exhausted just from recounting all of this ridiculousness. I'm having Ralph flashbacks as we speak, Zubaz pants on everyone I see.

But it's worth it, because this is the year. No, not the year for the playoffs, let's be serious. This is the year the world finally takes notice that Buffalo has, by far, the craziest tailgaters on the continent. A hardy, weathered, and completely jaded collection of die-hards that keep my job interesting, and put a smile on this ugly face.

Join me again, won't you? November 8, the Bills take on the Fish. And Me? Well, I'll be there taking on my own personal burden that is reporting from The Ralph.

All photos by Kirsten Schollig/Elite Sports Tours