Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Buffalo Bills 2008-So Far, So Good

As the great debate sizzles, there will still be NFL football in Toronto for the next four years. No one has even hinted that there is any comparison between the event in Toronto, and the ones in Orchard Park.

It is not just a game in Buffalo. It is indeed an event. You must go there to believe. Those that do, often return. It is, after all, American football at its best. You may use all of the comparisons to American society, to the American way of life. There are bits and pieces of the way they live south of our border wrapped up in their weekend pursuit. But that is not a negative thing.

After all, football is just a game. And the game is an escape from life as it has been handed to you-good or bad, rich or poor.

Number one son, Arthur James, recently returned from his second Bills game this season. And he still has a wad of tickets to head back to New York State for more. He sat near the end zone, a few rows above the field, a location that I scoffed at from his mug shot. He retorted that it was perfect, that he had seen three wonderful Bills’ touchdowns under his nose.

And he also had a chance to experience the pre game antics of an avid Bills’ fan named Kenny. At any given time prior to a Bills’ game, there are more than fifty thousand fans wandering around the parking lot, drinking in the sights and sounds (and the occasional bubbly) of the game before the game.

Kenny is a little extra special. He brings along an entourage of buddies prepared to entertain the fans. This mild-mannered, bespectacled Clark Kent type begins to wander, innocently looking for a little mustard and ketchup for his burger. His buddies oblige, opening up on him with several containers of the condiments in caulking guns. When Kenny is covered from head to foot, they cease fire. Kenny has not missed a game in years, and he cleans up pretty well after the onslaught.

Kenny is part of the enormous tailgate party that begins early in the morning, game day, and ends several hours after the final gun. In Green Bay, the team hires the local junior farmers to clean the place after the game. I do not believe there are that many farmers in New York State to tidy up after Kenny and the rest of the fans are finished.

Ah yes, the game. The Bills are now two and zero. There are fourteen more games to play before the playoffs, and that includes the game this weekend against the Oakland Raiders. Raider fans always add a little spice to the party. Several thousand of their faithful make the cross-country trip to support their woeful team. The Raiders still have a long way to go to recapture their glory days. Bills’ receivers will feast on their porous defence this weekend. Kenny and his friends should go home happy.

The Bills are led by Trent Edwards. Following his rookie season last year, he looks most comfortable at the helm. Drafted 92nd overall, he was the twenty-ninth pick in the third round. He began the year as an understudy to J. P. Losman, and took over in Game Three. He finished the season with a respectable 56 % passing completion rate. Another rookie last year, Marshawn Lynch, ran for more than one thousand yards. That combination, Edwards and Lynch, is the first to top the 1000 yard mark since 1989 when Rodney Peete and Barry Sanders led the Detroit Lions.

The Bills have the Chargers and the Jets, with Brett Favre, following their game against the Raiders. On November 17th, they host the Cleveland Browns in the nationally televised Monday Night Football game. In a previous column, I interview Kellen Winslow, the great Hall of Famer from the Chargers. His son now toils for the Browns; hopefully, I will get a chance to pick his brain following the tilt with the Bills.

With the number of red, white, and blue flags now appearing on the streets, interest in the Bills has increased significantly since the pre-season game in Toronto. Buses are heading weekly to Orchard Park from the Quinte area for the festivities, and the game. Kenny’s group is situated behind the stadium. He may be a bit offside, but no one is throwing any flags in his direction.

Get your passport updated. That always helps. The Bills will “make you want to shout”!

James Hurst

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