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A Playbook for Managing Adversity

By: Passionate Buffalo Bills Fan Patti Bax

Original Date: 9/8/22

Hello sports fans, and welcome to the IE Sports Radio blog. Are you looking for free lessons on how to handle adversity? Then look no further than the Buffalo Bills. As a rabid Bills fan who attended all four Super Bowl appearances, and survived more heartbreaking losses than one can imagine, I seem to be even more dedicated to the team after each painful loss. I often ask myself what keeps me coming back, with the ever-present possibility of a disappointing season. There are so many reasons, including the “invisible pledge” signed by a true fan of a team like the Bills. It is a lifelong contract. Real fans don’t jump on and off the bandwagon. As a fan, this is what you sign up for, and there is no turning back. You’re expected to survive the dropped balls as much as celebrating winning touchdowns in the end zone. How did I learn to survive the adversity of being a Bills fan? The answer is simple. I modeled my responses after how the coaches, team, staff, players, and team leaders responded to each excruciating loss. I realized that one benefit of being a Bills fan is the gift of learning life lessons, such as managing adversity. The following several quotes reinforce how to cope with adversity:

  • Muhammad Ali, once stated, “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”

  • American actor and retired professional wrestler Diamond Dallas Page shared, “In our personal and professional lives, we are constantly hit with one adversity after the other, most of which we have no control over. But the four things we have total control over is how we react, how we adapt, how we breathe, and how we take action.”

  • American author, salesman, and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said, “Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful.”

  • And finally former American football player, coach, and analyst Lou Holtz stated, “Everyone goes through adversity in life, but what matters is how you learn from it.”

Bills players and coaches may not be as famous as Ali, Page, Ziglar, or Holt, but they demonstrate their own ability to handle adversity throughout the season on and off the field. Former head coach and Hall of Famer, Marv Levy said, “Adversity is an opportunity for heroism.” Bills Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier has a saying on the board in his office which states ‘if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” It’s something he lives by and mirrors in his philosophy about handling adversity. “I think it’s not a bad thing to have some adversity every now and then, or experience difficult times because it forces growth if you handle it the right way.” “Adversity happens throughout the season and it’s the teams that handle it the right way that are going to come out on top,” safety Jordan Poyer said. “I know we’ve got the right guys to do that in this locker room.” One player who practices what he preaches when it comes to adversity is Josh Allen. “When adversity hits, you’ve got to persevere and overcome. A big saying in my family household growing up was ‘APO’… Adjust, Persevere, Overcome,” Allen added. “That was from my high school coach. My dad loved it and he says it every day.” What lessons have I learned from my beloved Buffalo Bills to help me bounce back from adversity?

  • Be prepared in advance for adversity. Note to self: adversity happens in everyone’s life. To paraphrase a familiar saying in football terms, “Fumbles happen.” Identify coping skills and make sure your support network of friends and family is in place.

  • Create your own personal “slogans” which can assist you in keeping everything in perspective. One of the slogans I find helpful is to break down the situation into smaller steps; in other words, “One day at a time.”

  • Re-frame an adverse situation into a positive one and ask yourself what lessons you can learn from that life-changing experience. Remember, there are events which are out of our control and we have to learn to let go.

  • Employ positive tools such as journaling, mindfulness, physical activity, spending time in nature, listening to music, or whatever helps to reduce stress and anxiety in your life.

The fact that adversity will always be a part of our lives can assist us in managing our personal reactions and responses. The 2022-2023 football season may finally be the year the Buffalo Bills win the Super Bowl. When they do bring home the ultimate prize, it won’t just happen by chance. It will be because they faced adversity, learned valuable lessons each step of the way, stayed humble and true to themselves, and never took the journey for granted. When you need guidance and direction to support you through adversity, look no further than the Buffalo Bills. You might find the lessons you need to better manage your own life challenges. Huddle up with me on Tuesday nights at 7pm EST, for The Buffalo Huddle W/Patti Bax! Please feel free to tweet me at @BuffaloHudl_IE. For more sports content, please don’t forget to listen to our IE Sports Radio family. Be in the know by listening to all the podcasts and join in the fun. Shout out to our patreon supporters, and be sure to check out for more information on how you can continue to support IESR. Thank you for reading, and we will see you next time on IE Sports Radio; your direct feed for ALL that is sports.

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