ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — As a steady stream of disappointed fans flowed from Highmark Stadium one final time this season, they left knowing it wasn’t all lost.
“What we saw, what people went through and all that it was just an unreal experience,” Captain Buffalo said. “I mean, you can't predict, you can't know what to do but when you look back at what happened, people reacted admirably. There was solidarity, there was understanding.”
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A level of understanding that even after 68,000 miles and nearly two decades of travel still is unlike anything Captain Buffalo has seen before and is shared across the lot, where Ray and Rory Parker were bridging enemy lines one waffle at a time.
“Obviously we have a little soft spot for them like what happened in Cincinnati, that is,” Ray Parker said. “It’s a little bittersweet to play them again.”
It’s a feeling that’s close to heart for both sides, who have felt like one since Hamlin’s collapse.
“The people in Buffalo are the greatest people in the world,” Bengals fan Brian Hood said. “They gave it to me I had to wear it.”
While conversations of next year may be the last thing fans want to hear, No. 3’s return to Highmark Stadium on Sunday afternoon gives them something to hold onto.
“That's all we can hope for, seeing him in the present and doing a great job,” James Budu said. “We can't ask for anything better.”