Congratulations, No. 12.
I attended college from 1989 to 1993, when Jim Kelly was leading the Buffalo Bills into their greatest era ever. In my freshman year they lost a thrilling playoff game in the last seconds to the Cleveland Browns; each season thereafter for the next four years ended in heartbreak at the Super Bowl. Those Super Bowl years, although they ended sadly each year, were special to me precisely because I went to college nearly 900 miles away from home. The Buffalo Bills were a tangible piece of home a long way away; they were something to which I could point with pride. Whenever a Bills home game was televised (which, in Iowa, was not very often), I could point to the stadium and the aerial shots of the surrounding countryside and say, “That’s home”. Sports fandom can be ugly; but there are other times when sport can give us something more than just a Sunday afternoon thrill.
Someday, some quarterback will lead the Buffalo Bills to a Super Bowl championship. It may even be the new man, Drew Bledsoe. As a fan, I hope that he does. But no matter who eventually brings the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Buffalo, there will never be a greater champion than Jim Kelly.
(Except, maybe, Thurman Thomas. OK, and Bruce Smith. Yeah, and Andre Reed….can’t forget Steve Tasker, Cornelius Bennett, or Darryl Talley or Kent Hull either….man, that was a hell of a football team.)