With all the hoopla that happened on Sunday at The Ralph, it would be understandable if you missed encountering the old lady known as Sloopy. She’s waited a long time to make an appearance at a Bills game.
Why she showed up at the Bills game after vanishing from WNY decades ago is a long and sordid tale.
Well, technically she wasn’t really AT the game. She hitched a ride and hung out like she used to in the old days, picking up leftover food from tailgaters in the parking lots at the old War Memorial stadium while the game was going on.
Most people didn’t notice her while they were tailgating on Sunday, because she doesn’t look like she used to anymore. She’s easy to miss. Sloopy is also dead broke right now, but she remembered how Bills fans used to leave food around when they went inside the stadium to watch the game.
No doubt she was hungry for good old Buffalo home cooking, and what she heard and saw outside the stadium brought back memories from a lifetime ago.
Sloopy started out in life a lot like most girls that grew up in the 60s on the wrong side of the tracks. She rebelled against just about everything because that’s what girls like Sloopy did back then. She was an unadulterated, prepubescent train wreck during those AFL championship years. Yes she was…
The only thing she remembers now about that time in Bills history is that Tom Sestak was pretty hot. The rest is just a blur.
Sloopy was named after the famous old song “Hang on Sloopy”, released in 1965 by The McCoys. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_McCoys
Although Sloopy was only ten years old when her theme song came out, someone saw her dancing down the street after a Bills loss a few years later and started calling her the ‘Sloopy Girl’. The name stuck.
It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to her. By the time Sloopy hit high school, the Bills were already entering their first period darkness that would eventually devolve into a decade of losses to the Miami Dolphins.
Like a lot of other Bills fans at the time, she had no idea what a lifetime of losing was about to inflict upon her tender psyche.
Sloopy always tried to make the best of a bad situation. Whenever the Bills lost a game, she found solace in dancing to her favorite theme song:
She would put that single on her green plastic record player with its three inch speakers and repeatedly blast it until her grandmother threatened to break every last piece of vinyl she could find (with all of its “vulgar music”).
So after the Bills started logging sequential losses to the Dolphins while she was in high school, Sloopy realized she needed to find ways to cope other than just her “vulgar” music and limited dancing skills. It was time for her to find her place in the world.
Sloopy concentrated on her studies, and much to the surprise of many, she actually survived and graduated from high school. The record player did not.
She rapidly realized her nerd like qualities and shy nature could pay big dividends if she studied hard enough. She compensated for her lack of social skills by becoming a total bookworm. Through it all Sloopy never lost her devotion to the Buffalo Bills.
After graduating from UB she left town, and no one in WNY knew what became of her. She went about her life, and even Sloopy failed to realize that she was actually preparing herself for the most important role of her life. Little did she know that role would also involve going back to Buffalo.
Sloopy was always a social outcast and considered an all around weirdo. There wasn’t much about her that would be construed as normal. Even all the accolades and academic achievement she experienced along the way failed to satisfy her.
That crazy nudge to fulfill her destiny persisted like a low grade chronic infection of the soul.
It took years of failed attempts for Sloopy to figure out her purpose in life. She went from one gig to another trying to find something that would fuel her burning passion for the Buffalo Bills.
Oddly, it was Charles Schulz’s creation of Lucy’s lemonade stand that eventually become a model for achieving Sloopy’s destiny.
However, this couldn’t be just any old lemonade stand. This one would be for the players, coaches and fans of the Buffalo Bills.
Sloopy actually created her first lemonade stand outside Ralph Wilson stadium as a pilot project in 1991 after the Bills lost their first Super Bowl. Poor Sloopy waited day after day for her big break as the team psychologist, but it never materialized.
Her biggest mistake was that she hadn’t considered the fact that it was too cold in late January to sell lemonade. She blamed herself for her failure to find a way to console the players, coaches and Bills fan base through the rough times.
And there were plenty of rough times. After losing four Super Bowls in a row, Sloopy packed her bags and left WNY for good.
The years passed, and the trauma from being a lifelong unfulfilled Bills fan took it’s toll on poor old Sloopy along the way.
For one thing, she still smokes like a belching pipe from a 50’s era Bethlehem Steel factory. Sloopy never did have much in the way of self control, especially as the Bills logged in one losing season after another.
Smoking, drinking, and cursing her way from one season to the next became a ritual.
Her life was one Bills football season after another of utter and complete frustration.
Now days, Sloopy’s eyesight is mostly gone. She doesn’t hear very well either, so it looks like her grandmother was probably right about listening to all that loud rock music as a kid.
Despite this and all her other infirmities and failures in life, Sloopy’s brain remains arguably functional enough to run a lemonade stand though.
The losing seasons, the Music City Miracle, the banishment of, and subsequent curse made by Doug Flutie all took their toll on Sloopy. Even Wade Phillips couldn’t fix the ache in her heart.
There was Gregg Williams. Mike Mularkey, Dick Jauron, and Chan Gailey. There was Tom Donahoe, Takeo Spikes, Drew Bledsoe, a ‘Peerless’ one, and even Terrell Owens. Nothing worked to raise the Buffalo Bills out of the NFL gutter.
Sloopy never stopped ‘BILLieving’ that if she could just find a way to put up her lemonade stand in the cafeteria at One Bills Drive, then she would be able help the team bring home a Lombardi trophy with her great lemonade and sage advice.
Every night after she took her teeth out, she prayed (with a lisp) that someone would help her find a way to fulfill her life’s purpose.
Then something happened that would change Sloopy’s life forever.
Right after Mr. Wilson died, an ensuing drama unfolded in WNY that would make the best soap operas writers blush.
Mr. Wilson made sure the team stayed in the region and sold it to the Pegula Family. A new era in Bills history was about to unfold.
However, that wasn’t what directly set the wheel of good fortune in motion for Sloopy.
That moment actually happened a couple of years earlier when Rex Ryan walked by and gave a thumb’s up to an old bag lady that had been living on the streets of New York City. Sloopy worked that corner of Manhattan for over ten years by that time.
However, just because Sloopy fell on hard times didn’t mean she wasn’t resourceful enough to keep up with the news regarding her beloved Buffalo Bills along the way. She also knew what Rex Ryan looked like, and for the most part thought he was nothing more than a gigantic green blowhard.
Then one Friday morning in late October 2012, Sloopy saw Rex burst out of a restaurant door and walk across the street straight toward her. She looked up, and their eyes met as he walked by her sitting on the sidewalk.
As he strutted by with a scowl on his face, Sloopy reached out her hand to him and said that it was time for him to leave the Jets. He gave her a ‘thumbs up’ but said nothing.
Then she dropped the bomb.
It’s a moment neither will ever forget. As Rex continued walking, she yelled out at him that he better be ready for what’s coming. He kept going.
He was in a foul mood that morning after losing another close game to the Patriots the night before at Gillette Stadium. Brady went 26/42 for 259 and two TDs. The Jets lost by three points, and Rex already had an inkling that his job might be in jeopardy.
He went home and couldn’t sleep that night. Every time he closed his eyes he saw the toothless homeless woman berating him and telling him that he had a much higher calling in life than coaching the Jets…
Nobody noticed when the old bag lady suddenly disappeared from the streets of New York that fateful weekend in October of 2012. Life went on.
Sloopy actually didn’t mind being kidnapped. Winter was fast approaching and she had already been kicked out of every homeless shelter in the five boroughs anyway.
It was the beginning of what would become a beautiful, mutually beneficial relationship.
Now days Rex knows that his ace in the hole (or in this case his basement) is ready to help him reveal his true destiny in Buffalo. He takes good care of Sloopy because he knows she speaks the truth. He also gets a kick watching her fight with Buddy when he’s in town for a visit.
Michelle Ryan is a real doll and always takes great care of “Aunt Sloopy”. She makes sure the basement is comfortable and well stocked with her favorite food. She even takes Sloopy to the doctor to get her prescriptions refilled every month.
Now Rex wants Sloopy to earn her keep. After the Patriots game, Sloopy locked herself in the basement and refused to come out. She told Michelle she might not come upstairs for the rest of the season, maybe even her life.
That didn’t go over well with Rex, and he told her it was about time she got off her butt and did something useful for a change. After a couple of extra doses of Haldol and a few Zyprexa for good measure, Rex finally convinced Sloopy to step into the light and help him bring an NFL championship to Buffalo.
Her first task was to join Twitter to offer some love, hope and support to Bills fans across the cyberuniverse. She’s ready to roll, albeit with a ‘shipload’ of reluctance.
She’s also been tagged by a group of fanatics who refer to themselves as some sort of “BillsMafia”. They want her to answer questions from the fans as the season progresses.
Without further adieu, please welcome old Sloopy to BillsMafia.