My father is a huge Buffalo Bills fan. A lifetime Buffalo Bills fan. For those of you who have been lifetime fans of other teams, like the Red Sox, or the Patriots, you will have no comprehension of what his fanhood really means. The Buffalo Bills have been disappointing my father for almost my whole life. And yet he continues to passionately support them, even hosting a Monday night football party for nearly every man in my town when the Bills play.
The following is an excerpt from an e-mail he sent out following last night’s defeat to the Patriots. I leave it here because 1. it is good writing; 2. as much as my father loves the Buffalo Bills, he loves other things, like his family, much more, and this e-mail gives you a glimpse into what that must means; 3. it made me smile.
Last night was a perfect example of a team snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Ah, but for us long time Bills fans, this is nothing new. I have been following my hometown Bills since the early 1960s (Jack Kemp & Cookie Gilchrest era) and recall the joy in our household when they won the AFL Championships in 1964 and 1965. The dark years of the 1970s included 20 consecutive losses to the hated Miami Dolphins – a decade of futility that still ranks as the longest professional losing streak to one team. Many of those games were reminiscent of last night: Buffalo would be leading the Fish, but a late turnover shifted momentum and Miami would prevail. Bills would be driving for a go ahead FG, and a holding call would push them out of range. And then there was their loss to Tennessee in the Titans’ MUSIC CITY MIRACLE, a January 2000 wild card playoff game (Doug Flutie era in Buffalo but Rob Johnson was starting QB that day) when Bills hit late FG to lead 16-15 with less than half a minute remaining. On ensuing kickoff Titans lateraled ball across width of field (to this day I still think it looks like a forward lateral!) and Kevin Dyson ran untouched 75 yards for the winning score. Last night some of you were gracious in your comments on the Bills’ 4 successive Super Bowl appearances, but who can ever forget (forgive?) Frank Norwood’s WIDE RIGHT from 47 yards in Super Bowl XXV in January 1991, giving the Giants the win, propelling Bill Belichik to the top of the Cleveland Browns’ coaching wish list and propelling the Browns’ exit from Cleveland several years later (see? If Norwood had MADE the kick, all of Buffalo would have been ecstatic for the next 50 years, the Browns would have picked a DIFFERENT coach, Art Modell would have had more success at the gate and the Browns would never have left town in the first place!!)?