Joe Lozito was one of the most excited, die hard Saskatchewan Roughrider fans making the trip to Hamilton last week.
However, unlike the thousands of Saskatchewan fans in attendance that grew up cheering for their favourite football team, Lozito didn’t know the Riders existed a year ago.
After the NFL season ended in January, Lozito was experiencing some “football withdrawl” in the early weeks of the off-season.
He picked four CFL teams and polled his Twitter followers to choose one for him to cheer on.
By the end of the week, former Rider Derek Dennis and the rabid fanbase got involved — making it a landslide vote in favour of the green and white.
Those colours weren’t exactly a natural transition for the New Yorker.
Admittedly a Buffalo Bills fan, Lozito was apprehensive to cheer for his rival New York Jets’ colours.
“Before the Riders came along, I was anti- green and white, because even though I live in New York, I am anti-Jets and I love the Buffalo Bills,” he said Tuesday on Gormley.
“The green and white looks better out west in Regina than it does out here.”
Lozito’s only knowledge of Saskatchewan prior to January was its ability to produce hard-nosed NHLers.
He assumed junior hockey was the most popular sport in the prairies, but had no idea what sort of fan intensity awaited him.
“I had literally no idea just how big the Roughriders were in Saskatchewan,” he said.
“I’m so happy that I’m now a part of that fanbase.”
He likened the passion to the Bills Mafia, the moniker for the Buffalo Bills’ most loyal fans.
Some pics from our 1st ever @CFL experience. Huge win by the @sskroughriders made it even more memorable! What a great time! Looking forward to the next one! #BeautyAndTheBeast #RidersWin #CFL @grn_eyed_panda pic.twitter.com/Ry0VCyLi3t
— Joe Lozito (@joe_lozito) July 21, 2018
Like any good sports fan, he wasn’t about to show up to a game without the proper knowledge. Lozito watched games from the 2017 season, viewed documentaries and extensively researched the team all before arriving in Hamilton last week.
“It was almost like a culmination of something for me to go and see them live,” he said.
In true Rider fashion, the CFL’s most traveled fan base was well represented at Tim Hortons field.
“Especially in the second half, (Rider fans) kind of took over in the crowd,” Lozito said of the atmosphere in the stands.
He made the most out his trip, visiting with other Rider fans and posing for photos with players before and after the game.
Now that he’s seen his new favourite team in action, the only thing left on Lozito’s list is a Rider home game at Mosaic Stadium.
There aren’t any immediate plans for him to make the trek to Regina, but he’d love nothing more than to be in that crowd when the Riders take the field.
“It just feels like this energy. If energy had a sound, that to me reminds me what the crowd at Mosaic is,” Lozito said.
“I just feel like I have to be a part of that.”
Even though he’s only bee a Roughrider fan for less than a year, there’s no other Canadian team Lozito could imagine cheering for.
“It’s like I made hundreds of friends in the last seven months.”