MILAN, Italy (WIVB) — Bills fans will watch the team’s MNF home opener at 7:15 p.m., but fans across the pond in Italy will be watching in the middle of the night because they’re six hours ahead of us here in WNY.
The Buffalo Bills Backers Italy group is spread out all across the country, but its members all have one thing in common: their love for the team.
“(A) touchdown for us is heart… family… it’s everything,” Paolo Miranda, the founder of the group, said.
“Paolo is called ‘Padrino’ in Italy! Paolo is the Godfather!” a couple guys in the group laughed as they interviewed with News 4’s Kelsey Anderson via Zoom.
So WHY are these Italians fans of the Buffalo Bills? Well, they all have different stories.
Paolo Miranda went to college in Toronto, met a girl from Rochester and went to his first game. The rest is history for him.
Lino Gabbiano has been a fan since the mid-80s. He loved the Bills’ colors back then.
And Marco ‘Trive’ Trivella may have one of the funniest stories from the group. In 2011, he saw the comeback game in which Ryan Fitzpatrick helped the team win against the Patriots. He doesn’t speak great English, so Lino helped translate what happened next.
“By the end of the game, he was jumping up and down on the sofa by himself, and he realized that it wasn’t him that chose the Bills, but the Bills that chose him.”
The group has about 60 diehard fans. All have different stories and homes across the more than 700 miles of Italy. Once a season though, the group converges on a pub in Milan for a game. The owner of the pub is a Buffalo Bills Backers Italy member. They meet up for every post-season game as well.
Before Paolo created the group, they were all strangers. Now, they’re family.
“I don’t consider them good friends…. that is part of my life,” Paolo said. “That is family.”
And Mafia does mean family right? Well… in Italy, that word isn’t thrown around as much as it is in WNY.
“We can’t use that word very much in Italy, you know,” Lino laughed, but did say they do consider themselves a part of Bills Mafia.
But the phrase that Buffalo has chosen in the wake of tragedy is used quite a bit: Choose Love.
Starting at 1 a.m. overnight, the group of Italians will be awake, cheering on the team as they take on the Tennessee Titans in the Bills’ home opener.