With the Buffalo Bills’ season coming to a close, speculation once again rises over the franchise’s future in the city of Buffalo. Countless blogs, forums, and discussion groups have been unable to answer that looming question: What now?
Despite missing the playoffs yet again this year, sources have told ESPN that head coach Dick Jauron has signed a contract extension that places him as the Bills’ head coach until 2011. Yet with the owner Ralph Wilson Jr.’s decision weighing heavily upon the team, the extension of their current head coach by no means solidifies the existence of the team in next few years. Meanwhile, our neighbors in Toronto have wanted to breach the international border and become part of the NFL for years. This may be their chance.
Second year Illustration student and lifelong Buffalo Bills fan Rachel DiNunzio won’t let that happen.
As a native of Buffalo’s nearby village, Williamsville, DiNunzio has been a Bills fan since before she can remember. The pride she has for her home team stems from deep within her family, since her brother, mother, father, and grandparents are all devout Bills fans. When news reached her family that the Bills may be relocated in just a few years, they knew they needed to get involved.
DiNunzio, along with her brother, Alex, and their uncle, Bob Schwartz, are the leaders of a campaign whose goal is to keep the Bills in Buffalo. They have created a website, http://billsinbuffalo4ever.com, to inform and unite Bills fans across the nation. The site includes an online petition that offers fans an opportunity to take action.
Last summer, DiNunzio was approached by her brother and uncle about designing an easily recognizable logo that would represent their movement. They wanted an image that would combine every aspect of their pride for their home team. “At first it was very general. They needed an awesome graphic that everyone would recognize,” DiNunzio said. “My work let their ideas come to life with a workable product.” After scrapping countless preliminary ideas, she drew up the iconic final logo.
“[The logo] has become a recognized symbol. Loyal fans have contacted us from far regions, wanting a t-shirt or a bumper sticker,” DiNunzio remarked. “People are able to point and say, ‘I’ve seen that before.’ ” So far, according to DiNunzio, BillsInBuffalo4Ever has received over 3,000 responses.
T-shirt sales are on the rise as more and more people take notice.
The online petition has brought out the pride that Bills fans are famous for. One signer even added a comment to his signature, which stated, “I love my Bills with all my heart, and I will fight to death to keep them where they belong.” While DiNunzio and her family are hardly asking anyone to resort to martyrdom, they are more than happy to have Bills fans visit the website, sign the petition, and pick up a t-shirt to spread the word.
DiNunzio hopes Bills fans across the country will unite in an effort to keep the team in their home city so that the league will remain national. “It’s important to keep the NFL part of this nation.”
DiNunzio added. “Not only for the Bills, but for football fans in general.”
He bets his mortgage on it.