Former Rams, Patriots and Eagles defensive end Chris Long didn't have to hesitate much when talking about which opposing fan base was the most memorable during his NFL career. The 11-year veteran played against every team in the league multiple times, including double-digit games played against the non-Rams NFC West, but he only needed four games against the Buffalo Bills to know that the Bills Mafia was a force to be reckoned with.
Long spoke about his experiences against the Bills in the latest episode of "Green Light with Chris Long."
"They are so awesome," Long said. "If I could be reincarnated as an NFL player on a new team, start over, I would want to be a Buffalo Bill... The stadium is so intimate. It feels like a college atmosphere but, like, without the college kid binge drinking. It's like really experienced adult binge drinkers. Buffalo vibe -- I love that vibe. Every time we played there... I wanted to slip off into some dive bar and just start hammering bud heavies in solitude.
"... And that's what everybody does I think for the 24 hours before the game. They are ready to roll when you get there."
Former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich should know the fan base better than most: he played against them a whopping 16 times, nine times at the then-Ralph Wilson Stadium and New Era Field, and shared a similar experience. However, they only checked in at No. 4 on his list of the most memorable and toughest opposing fan bases.
"I played there a lot," Ninkovich said, slotting the Bills into his top five ahead of the Raiders at No. 5. "I feel like the atmosphere there (is) one of my favorites. Look, the visiting team has a terrible locker. They have like one toilet to share amongst everybody, they've got terrible showers, after five minutes it's all cold, ice cold. You know, you feel like you have to wear gym shoes everywhere because you're going to get foot fungus or something.
"I would say when you're on the field the fans are close, they're right on top of you. I can remember every single time we would go there I would look forward to driving into the parking lot because when you're coming in there (are) people flashing you, throwing stuff at you, flipping you the bird, dudes dropping their pants... I'm like 'What the hell is this?' "
The two also reminisced on the "wasteland" that the parking lot would become after games, full of broken tables, deserted cups, and garbage everywhere. Long even recalls a video of a baby being thrown through a table -- no, it's not as bad as it sounds.
So, what could have possibly topped the Bills fan base on Ninkovich's top five list?
The Eagles, of course. Philly's famous fans were third on the former Patriot's ranking, though he only played there once in the regular season.
"You know about Philly," Ninkovich said to Long, who played at the Linc in 2017 and 2018. "I can remember coming onto the field and just the energy of the fans, just really, really not liking you at all. You know, you can just sense when people want you to fail badly and they don't even care. Like, you could possibly never walk again and they wouldn't care."
Seattle and their 12th man checked in at No. 2, and at the top of the list was the Saints. Ninkovich bent the rules a little bit here -- Long's criteria for the list was that they needed to be opposing fan bases, where as Ninkovich spent three games at the beginning of his career in black and gold -- but he couldn't resist putting them at the very top.
"I know you said the rules, (but) I didn't play a full season there," Ninkovich said. "Number one to me is Who Dat Nation, the Saints in New Orleans... they're absolutely nuts."
Ninkovich recalled a game very early in his career where he blew his knee out, but most Saints fans -- heck, all Saints fans -- remember it for a very different reason.
"I was on the field," Ninkovich recalled. "It was called pistol... and I was right next to Steve -- I had a b-gap rush and he had an a-gap rush, and I just remember when he blocked the punt it was the loudest, most deafening, shaking... I felt like my brain was rattling because it was so loud in that stadium."