Many Houston sports fans came face to face with a traumatic experience from the past Saturday when the Houston Texans hosted the Buffalo Bills.
Sure, the teams have changed. Those glorious powder-blue clad Oilers have been replaced with the beloved Texans. Those scars remain from 1993 when the Bills rallied from a 35-3 deficit to eliminate Houston from the playoffs.
For others, it was a day of great rejoicing that would lead to another Super Bowl disappointment. To be a Buffalo fan in those days tested one’s character.
How does anyone in the middle of Oklahoma fall head over heels for the Buffalo Bills, particularly before the discovery of the Internet?
The answer is simpler than you might think. Everyone needs a fan.
In 1985, so much was taking place. Nintendo had released its game console, a much better business decision than New Coke, which was also released.
Chicago seemed to be the center of the sports universe. Michael Jordan had found a new launch pad after a stellar college career at North Carolina and the Chicago Bears were the class of the NFL. Bandwagons were built across the nation for the newest version of Monsters of the Midway.
The bandwagon seemed particularly big at Comanche Middle School. There were a number of 8th graders roaming around, loving themselves some Bears and doing some kind of awful shuffle.
Someone had to go against the grain. Buffalo needed some fans — badly. Like that little dog left at the pound, those less-than-lovable 2-14 Bills found a fan in Comanche and we were off and running. One school activity called for everyone to wear something from his or her favorite team. I got a white T-shirt and wrote Buffalo on it and stole the Oakland motto, ‘Commitment to Excellence.’
Kids can be cruel; particularly those who fail to share a vision. But Buffalo did improve. I got real Buffalo Bill clothes I didn’t have to write on and followed the team closely. Few were as excited to see the USFL fold (Thanks Trump) and see Jim Kelly join the team. Other pieces like Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed and Cornelius Bennett fell into place.
Like a shooting star, the Bills became a playoff team. There were rough years as the Bickering Bills had to mature. But it felt so right. The reward came in 1990 when the Bills tore the NFL up and advanced to the Super Bowl against the New York Giants.
The Lombardi Trophy was there for the taking. Jeff Hostetler surely couldn’t keep up with the vaunted Bill offense.
It still comes back in nightmares — the field goal attempt going wide right.
I pride myself on being a reasonable sports fan. The times I have dived into sports depression are few and can be counted on less than five fingers. The 1987-88 Oklahoma Sooner basketball team that lost the National Championship to Danny Manning and a bunch of role players. Game 6 when Texas saw a World Series title disappear twice. I swore off Anheuser-Busch products for a year and moped even longer. Lastly, there was the Buffalo Super Bowl. It did not get any easier as the years passed. Buffalo came up short in the next three Super Bowls, none as close as the New York game.
How about now? Buffalo and I are like a couple that has been divorced for quite some time. I still think about the good times we had knowing they are in the past. I’m happy the Bills have found some happiness but we have both moved on. It’s funny as I write this, thinking about those days while wearing a trusty Texan shirt. Times change but the good memories last forever.
u is the assistant managing editor for The Baytown Sun. He can be reached at email@example.com.