YNN's The 12th Man: Pinto Ron
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Call it a crisis of identity.
Ken Johnson goes by many names.
"You can call me Ron. You can call me Ken. You can call me Kenny. I don't care what you call me," said Johnson.
It started about a decade ago when someone wrote an article about him.
"He got the name wrong and the people around my tailgate here just wouldn't let that go,” said Johnson. “They called me Ron for awhile and Pinto Ron. Somehow it just rolled real well. I fought it for a long time but finally I just gave up."
The Rochester native's Pinto is one of the most recognizable vehicles among the thousands that park around the Ralph on Sundays.
When Johnson bought it in 1986, it was his family car.
"At one point we threw a grill on the car,” said Johnson. “It looked pretty good. It kind of burnt the hood just a tad. I got a little mad, thought I would have to buff it up in the offseason."
He never did and over the years it’s taken a lot of punishment.
"Glenn Parker, that was a blast from the past,” said Johnson. “He actually took a sledgehammer to the back of my car just before a Denver game. We had a little tiny Denver helmet and we were telling him to break the helmet. That's why the back of my car is dented a little bit."
Don't judge a book by its cover though. Johnson has rebuilt the engine and replaced the transmission.
But when Johnson hits the road he leaves the Pinto at home, and he hits the road a lot.
Pinto Ron has been to more than 300 straight Bills games home and away.
"When I hit 50, I knew I was at the point of no return,” said Johnson. “I was on a roll right then. That was 250 games ago that I hit 50."
The software engineer says keeping the streak going isn't that hard.
He works from the road when he has to.
"When you've done as many games in a row as I have, nobody wants to be the one to get in the way and that includes my bosses," said Johnson.
Wherever Johnson goes, fans from other teams usually welcome him. Some places he says people are too nice.
"It throws me off my game when I go to Green Bay,” said Johnson. “I don't want to be stabbed and spit at, but come on, give me a little Bills heckling.
And he's racked up more than just miles over the years.
"I may travel alone, but I'm never alone when I get there,” said Johnson. “I've built up so many friends over the last 20 or 25 years it's unbelievable."