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Buffalo Bills Should Add US/Canada Flag Patch on New Uniforms

By Matt Sabuda:
Nike introduced their new NFL uniforms this week. With the exception of the Seattle Seahawks, most uniforms didn’t see much change.
The Bills have added a white collar to the jersey and a Bills logo to the pants. Since the Bills and the rest of the NFL are making tweaks, why not make a splash? It would be an innovative recognition of the Bills’ unique international fanbase if they included a permanent patch on their jerseys that displayed both the American and Canadian flags. Below, it could read “Buffalo” under the American flag and “Niagara” under the Canadian flag.
Building a fanbase in Toronto is an encouraging work in progress. But the immediate reality is that there are an abundance of diehard Bills fans right across the border that live within 25-30 minutes of Ralph Wilson Stadium on a good bridge crossing day.
There are nearly 500,000 residents in the Niagara municipality of Ontario. If the Buffalo market didn’t face enough market-skewing invisible borders, this uncounted immediate fanbase is yet another. If it weren’t for an international border, the immediate Buffalo/Niagara market would be closer to two million people. Add Rochester to the official figures and the true market is well over three million.
It would make sense from a brand building/recognition perspective, while also acknowledging what has long been a reality. Plenty of Canadians make the trip to Orchard Park every Sunday to cheer on their Buffalo Bills just like Western New Yorkers. 
In WNY, Canadians are a part of the culture, whether it be at area malls or bumping into them at the Buffalo/Niagara airport. In WNY, Canadian and American flags fly side by side nearly everywhere of prominence including directly in front of Buffalo’s City Hall. In an interview with Canada’s National Post, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said “I’m one of the few elected officials in the United States who looks out over Canada from his office every day.”
The NFL talks about being an international game. The Bills have an opportunity on their uniform to officially stake their claim that they are and have been for some time, the NFL’s original international team.
Follow Matt on Twitter @fffmatt

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

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  • LouisTully

    Alright, let’s not go crazy here. I sing the Canadian anthem louder than most Americans sing our anthem at Sabre, Canisius and any other game they decide to play both at. But suggesting the Bills wear the maple leaf on their uniform is absurd. I can understand the argument for hockey where 1/3 of Sabres are Canadian born or raised. But not football. Let’s not get all wacky. If it’s a marketing ploy then it’s not for the folks in the trenches; maybe the folks with ties and jackets. If the NFL wants to be an international game then all 32 teams can wear the CDN flag.

  • DeanerPPX

    As long as it doesn’t give Toronto any ideas about moving the team to their city, I’d be all for it! Aren’t we the only team that has a standing commitment to play one home game per year on foreign soil? That in itself should be recognized.
    I’d guess that Detroit and Seattle probably have their own share of Canadian fans as well, but neither Vancouver nor Windsor ever qualify as home turf.
    I think this would go well beyond a marketing gesture to also be a great example of our goodwill, culture, and uniqueness amongst other cities and teams.

  • buffalosoon

    I understand this is a hypothetical…but did the author ever consider that there rules… The NFL decides what each team can and cannot do with the color of their athletic tape and or which eye black you can wear, let alone what footwear a player is allowed to wear… Coats get fined for wearing suits rather than an NFL licensed ripped up hoodie. The NFL is a monopoly… Teams are only allowed to change their uniforms every 5 years..and even then they are governed by the NFL regarding what changes they are allowed to make

  • RumRunner

    No dice. You might as well ask the Blue Jays and Leafs to stick a US flag on their jersey’s too while you’re at it.
    “In WNY, Canadian and American flags fly side by side nearly everywhere of prominence including directly in front of Buffalo’s City Hall.” — Yeah they sure do. Have you ever noticed the favor returned across the border?

  • GDubs

    This is a terrible idea. Have you been to a Sabres v Toronto(or any Canadian team) game? Were you at the World Juniors when all of your fellow fans from southern Ontario booed the US in the Finland game? I recognize this is a different sport, but I see no point in encouraging Canadian sponsorship.

  • DMZ


  • mikeraleighphd

    Why stop at a patch on the jersey, we should start playing home games in Toronto!

  • atypical

    Playing one game in Toronto is more than enough…
    If we need to add a Canadian flag to uniforms to help Toronto rally behind our team like American companies add a maple leaf to their logo’s – NO – absolutely not.
    I cannot even believe I wasted time reading this and responding.

  • osirisascending

    Well… this immediately rushed to the top of my list of “Dumbest Ideas I’ve Ever Heard”.
    No Canadian flag on the Bills uniform. Like Louis Tully, I sing the Canadian National Anthem at hockey games louder than anyone around me, but this suggestion is just ridiculous.
    Somewhere I have one of my ancient Can-Am PeeWee Hockey jackets with the crossed American and Canadian flags. In hockey, that’s cool. In American Football, no.
    If Canada ever gets an NFL franchise, then THEY can ask the league if THEY can put a Canadian flag on THEIR uniforms.
    No, no, NO.

  • Ozro

    A little disappointed to see the defensive comments to this. People talk about pushing the ‘golden horseshoe’ but yet when it comes to a unifying gesture as small as a patch that recognizes the international connection of the region, people freak. A recognition of who we are culturally shouldn’t be that big of a threat. Forget Toronto, there are people closely connected with WNY that live right across the bridge. We can ignore it or see it as a threat, but these people are part of our culture and economy.

  • benfranklin

    Interesting idea. I heard one report that had the population of Southern Ontario growing by 100,000 per year. Selling them merchandise and tickets only makes the team more viable in Buffalo. If a patch increased the likelihood that the team would remain here just 1%, add the patch.

  • burbsarenotbuffalo

    this is one of the dumbest ideas I have ever heard, and I can’t beleive BRO even allowed this post.
    Mr Sabuda- perhaps you should focus more on your derelict properties scattered throughout the city and leave the sports commentary to real writers.

  • Eric

    I’d be ok with them putting the flags on the back of the helmet, one on each side of the stripe, with the US flag on the right of course.
    The Bills did put the logo on the hip of their pants last year, so that’s not new.

  • K-Town

    We agree on something! yay! BR, stop trying to kiss everyone’s ass.

  • koz

    No we shouldn’t. This is America, not Canada. Why don’t we throw Mexico’s flag on there as well. Crazy liberals!

  • Tim

    I also think the marketing and networking benefits would be a good thing. Potitive pr in Canada. More income here, maybe.

  • LouisTully

    I’d be ok with the flags on the helmet. However the US flag is always displayed on the left. “No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag [the flag’s right]”
    It’s not about a ‘hatred’. As I said in the top post, I’m all about Canada and our relationship. But putting their flag on our uniform isn’t necessary. Except for the Flames, there isn’t even an NHL team that has any nation’s flag on their uniform. The Jays have it on theirs, but they play in Canada. Perhaps for the pre and regular season games we play in Toronto, but that’s it.

  • FFFMattSabuda

    LouisTully, that’s a fair commentary. I know there is a lot of sensitivity regarding the team’s future and Toronto specifically. It would be a great step if there was something the team could do to recognize our Canadian fans more while being sensitive to the core here in WNY.
    Burbsarenotbuffalo- as I suspected you aren’t interested in letting anyone know who you are. I guess we’ll have to disagree on real estate and the direction of the city. I think that your black and white attitude toward others is the problem. I noticed you mention lifelong city residents. Perhaps youd like to see a sign at the City’s entrance that reads ‘only those born here belong, all others keep out’. Every property I’ve purchased has been vacant/distressed and vastly improved upon after my purchase.
    I’m glad you clarified your position a someone that just hates outsiders. I’ll never hide behind a shield. I live in the City, I love the City and try to do right by it at all times. I’m sorry you think I’m the problem. I won’t cast that dispersion against you as being part of a city takes all kinds. I respect your passion but am disappointed by your singular view and your uninformed criticism of me and your suggestion that embracing others is a ‘dumb idea’. It might be worth looking in the mirror and try to open your mind to the bigger picture.

  • Thumbs

    I’ve never commented before, but I couldn’t let this one go…
    As a long time season ticket holder, I see this article as a slap in the face to Buffalo Bills fans. As it is, 50% of the Canadian “fans” that come to the games already think that the team is theirs. I realize that it’s not all of the fans, the a-holes are mainly from Toronto, but why give them another reason to think that we’re the Toronto Bills?
    Again it’s not all fans from Canada, but why give them another excuse for their arrogance when they come to games just to “drink the cheap beer and drunk” (a quote from a Canadian fan), start chanting “Go Leafs Go,” get in fights, and start yelling Toronto Bills as their getting thrown out?

  • GDubs

    Well put, Thumbs!

  • FFFMattSabuda

    Thumbs and GDub, I certainly appreciate that sentiment. My post/idea was intended to recognize the fans in Niagara/Fort Erie (almost 500,000) that feel a closer connection to Buffalo than Toronto. Do you think there is a way to embrace this populace/fan base in a way that appreciates the difference between them and people you are referring to from Toronto?
    Maybe there isn’t a way to do it well. I wish and hope there is as there are a lot of Buffalo loving Canadians right over the bridge in Niagara.
    Thanks for the feedback.

  • Thumbs

    Unfortunately no, there is no way to weed them out, but I do wish there was. That’s why it’s too bad that the Canadian’s I mention give “all” Canadian’s, including the fans that you speak of, a bad name. Same goes for some “fans” from Buffalo. There’s a reason so many visiting people leave saying that we have the worse fans. At any time you represent where you come from. I’ve had to apologize several times for how people are acting and say “that’s not how we all are” and I’ve had Canadian’s do the same to me.
    What the Buffalo Bills need are more Buffalo Bills fans to fill the seats, not people who could care less about football and who’s main goal is to see how many beers they can drink before half time. Hopefully this season it changes.
    Wow, I just read through this and realized how off topic it really is, but I guess your article must have sparked something.

  • FFFMattSabuda

    Haha, we did get a bit off topic, but a spirited debate never hurt anyone 🙂 Your larger point of fans at Bills games and alcohol is definitely a real concern. It would be great if there were ways to capture the great festive atmosphere, while weeding out the few bad apples that give Bills tailgating a bad name.
    And yes, people in general seem very sensitive to giving an inch when it comes to the team’s identity, which again is understandable. As a lifelong Bills fan and former employee of the team, I’m all for debate that can continue to make the Bills the best franchise they can be; and for anything that solidifies the fan base in WNY and Southern Ontario long into the future. Thanks again for your opinion on the idea.
    Hopefully, you’re still a season ticket holder. With all the new additions, it should be a fun year at the Ralph.

  • GinghamQuaker

    Glad there is general agreement here. I appreciate Canadians’ contributions to our local economy, but they really view us in a much more negative light than we view them. They have absolutely no respect for our country, or the protection we offer them.

  • DeanerPPX

    This discussion makes me wonder what Canadians think of us ugly Americans when we go to Niagara Falls or Toronto. I’m sure the girls at the ‘Canadian Ballet’ can top our stories of any activities at the Ralf that involve booze and testosterone.
    But both sides appreciate the money that rolls in from across the border.

  • FFFMattSabuda

    I’ve thought along those lines as well. The vast majority of Bills fans, both American and Canaidan are great. But like everything else, a few bad apples give stereotypes their reason for being. It would be great if we made more tangible advances to unite the populations of WNY and Southern Ontario into the powerful singular region it could be. With the Canadian Dollar showing no signs of retreating from parity, Canadians will become an increasingly valuable part of WNY’s future. Hopefully we can find ways to recognize that in a way that is effective and sensitive. I think small steps like a unifying patch help to carry a powerful message. Thanks for the feedback.

  • Chenango

    Totally cowardly to attack the author anonymously, because he had the guts to identify himself.
    As far as the concept of his article . . .
    We can call ourselves part Canadian,
    Right after the Jets and Giants acknowledge they are New Jersey teams.

  • buffloonitick

    don’t you dare put the Mexican flag on the Bills uniforms.
    the Mexican flag belongs on the San Diego Chargers uniforms…