Wide Right

Wide Right and Other Cluster F*#ks

What does the Super Bowl mean for a Bills fan who had to endure the pain of ‘wide right’ and four unsuccessful trips to the big dance in a row?

Wide Right

The life of a Bills fan in Super Bowl week is not a good one, it’s a pain rooted in an inferiority complex that comes with being a Rust Belt town that if they were starting the NFL today would have no chance of getting a franchise. It’s a constant reminder of “what if” that comes with back to back to back to back loses’ to start the 90’s (1990’s that is…). It’s made worse because the Patriots – a team not even given a second thought in the halcyon days – and Bill F Belichick is back there.

There was a time when the Bills ruled the AFC, the awful teams from the early 80’s produced high draft picks and great teams that from 1988 to 1993 were four time Conference Champs and lost another title game to the Bengals – even 1989 should have been better but more on that later. Just to remind you all of where I come from, Western New York State is where my Step Father grew up and a place I visited many times as a kid, Buffalo is the “Jewel” of that part of the World along with Niagara Falls and the Bills are as an intrinsic part of the fabric of society there as any institution.

Growing up with success

My formative years aligned with those great Bills teams that had Hall of Fame players and team
legends everywhere. It was going to be great Jim Kelly at QB and Marv Levy (also HoF) Head Coach ran the revolutionary K-Gun up tempo, no huddle offense, Andre Reed and Kenny Loften out wide and Thurman Thomas leading the NFL in All-Purpose yards year in and year out. The other side of the ball had the All-Time leader in sacks Bruce Smith rushing the passer opposite Bennett along with Darryl Talley patrolling the middle of the field and a solid secondary.

While that was going on there was also the sense of pride that all Bills fans had that it was one of our former players that was just about the most famous player in NFL history and a huge star to that day. You may have heard about him, his name was O.J. Simpson and that could never be taken away……

The promise of all these pieces started to show in 1988 when the team won the East and a playoff game before losing in Cincinnati in one of the coldest games in history. The team took a little step backwards next year but still beat the Fish to win the East before traveling to Cleveland (a team at the end of it’s on series of disasters – see The Drive and The Fumble).

First taste of last minute despair

This was a Divisional round game and we would have won except Ronnie F Harmon dropped the winning touchdown in the last minute – things could not have gotten worse, until next year.
1990 was a great year, the team went 13-3 and was dominant, the two playoff games – I still have them on video tape – were a smashing of the Dolphins and then a record 51-3 pounding of the Raiders to make it to the teams’ first Super Bowl.

That year was special, I was there too. The last home game of the year I was there, a 24-14ish win over the Dolphins, I was there. It was electric on that very cold late December day in Western New York We rolled into the big game with nothing to fear, the Giants were a great team with one of the greatest players ever – LT – but a back-up QB and not much of an offense. Nothing could go wrong.

First taste of the Super Bowl

I went with my Step Father and my Uncle to the Sydney Entertainment Centre to watch on the Super Screen with Don Lane and about 3000 other people – nearly all ex-pats – and then things started going wrong. The unstoppable offense spluttered, the Giants offense ground us into the turf and possessed the ball for over 40 minutes and it all came down to the last 7 seconds, 20-19 Giants, the ball on the 30 yard line, Scott Norwood lines up for a 47 yard field goal to win it.
Silence, anticipation, nerves.

The kick is up!!

Wide Right ……….

Giants win, the unstoppable offense is stopped by a game plan devised by a defensive genius, that game plan now lives in the HoF. Who was the DC on that Giants team? Bill F Belichick…
Things didn’t get better, losses to the Redskins (change that name people) and back to back blow outs against the Cowboys and the Super Bowl became a nightmare. Side note the first Cowboys SB loss I didn’t watch, I was at the Guns ‘n’ Roses concert at Calder Park, you can expect a 10,000 word oral history on that one day.

In the years since the Bills suffered more loses including the Music City Miracle in 1999 and then a playoff drought that was only broken last year. But the future is bright and I am loyal so we watch and see if the team that won back to back tittles in the old AFL, that ripped through the AFC like no one else had before will come back to prominence.

What happens Monday?

So I’ll be watching the Super Bowl on Monday, Pats vs Rams. As much as I despise the Patriots you have to admire them and watching the very best at what they do do what it is that they are the best at doing is fun. Can the offensive genius Rams coach McVay do what Levy and Kelly and the Bills couldn’t do 28 years ago and out think Bill F Belichick? Will Brady conjure yet another masterpiece? Can the Rams DC Philips out scheme Pats OC McDaniels? I’m thinking no, no and yes BUT there is the ever present Bill F Belichick……

Prediction – Patriots win and take out the 6th title in this ridiculous run, 27-14.

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