Returning to the fold: better to have loved and lost

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Asking the Buffalo Bills gods to let me back into the fold. With shirt given to me by Dean and the ball we took to the St. John Fisher training camp to be signed by the Jills. 2/3/19 [Photo: A Jill]

Why I am rooting for the Patriots and If the Patriots win the Super Bowl, credit Talker are stories of a love triangle between Talker, the Bills and the Patriots. I also explained that my shifted loyalty ensured victory for New England.

As the stories go, in the late 70s and early 80s I had a youthful dalliance with New England that continued when I attended Brown University in Providence, RI. That fever passed and a decade or so later the Bills re-swept me off my feet with a four year super honeymoon (though not 100% consummated): 1990 – 1993.

Panda Pat

Panda Pat, mascot

Around then I returned to Rhode Island, 18 miles southeast of Foxborough, MA where played the Patriots. The Patriots and I developed an “understanding.” The Bills owned my bottom line loyalty, but as Crosby, Stills and Nash said, “Love the one you’re with.”

And did the Patriots deliver the goods, providing 5 rings compared with zero. And the Bills jilted my beloved Jills.  After one playoff appearance in 18 years — as a sixth seed — the divorce papers were all but written.

So, mascot Panda Pat and I prepared for the Pats to ram the Rams just like in Super Bowl XXXVI.

But when Brady bounced back from an early interception, I could only imagine Jim.

12 Jan 1991: Quarterback Jim Kelly #12 of the Buffalo Bills throws the ball against the New York Giants during Super Bowl XXV at Tampa Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Giants won the game, 20-19.

12 Jan 1991: Quarterback Jim Kelly #12 of the Buffalo Bills throws the ball against the New York Giants during Super Bowl XXV at Tampa Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Giants won the game, 20-19.

When Michel broke free up the middle, I could only imagine Thurman.

Super Bowl XXV: Buffalo Bills QB Jim Kelly (12) in action, handoff to Thurman Thomas (34) vs New York Giants at Tampa Stadium. Tampa, FL 1/27/1991 CREDIT: Dick Raphael (Photo by Dick Raphael /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

Super Bowl XXV: Buffalo Bills QB Jim Kelly (12) in action, handoff to Thurman Thomas (34) vs New York Giants at Tampa Stadium. Tampa, FL 1/27/1991 CREDIT: Dick Raphael (Photo by Dick Raphael /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

When Edelman beat Talib on a third and nine, I could only imagine Andre.

Wide receiver Andre Reed #83 of the Buffalo (Newsday)

Wide receiver Andre Reed #83 of the Buffalo Bills (Newsday)

When Wise Jr. nailed Anderson for a loss, I could only imagine Bruce.

Bruce Smith sacks Giants QB Jeff Hostetler for a safety in Super Bowl XXV. (Sports Illustrated)

Bruce Smith sacks Giants QB Jeff Hostetler for a safety in Super Bowl XXV. (Sports Illustrated)

And when Gostkowski missed a 46 yard field goal in the first quarter, I could only imagine Scott (47 yards).

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 1/29/91

“Back judge Banks Williams watches Scott Norwood’s field goal sail wide, ending the Bills’ chances to win the Super Bowl with four seconds remaining.” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 1/29/91

At halftime, I’d had enough.

bear

Bill Bear, mascot

With 13:06 left in the 3rd quarter, I replaced Panda Pat with Bear Bill.  I reversed course and rooted for the Patriots — the Bills’ nemesis — to lose.

From Despite the lifting of the curse, Peterman and the Jill-less Bills drop the ball.

The shirt given to me by Dean and the ball we took to the St. John Fisher training camp to be signed by the Jills.

Ultimately, the football gods did not allow me to rescind my stated support for the Patriots. Once again, I rooted for a Super Bowl loser — one I caused to lose.

POSTSCRIPT

This Super Bowl, I learned anew that being a Bills’ fan means accepting the pain of love and loss.  Ironically, the closest I ever followed was 1994 when living far away in Rhode Island.  That season, the Bills heroically attempted a fifth consecutive Super Bowl appearance. But, the team stumbled down the stretch, finishing 7–9, fourth in the division. On December 18th, I suffered through a pivotal 41 – 17 slaughter by New England that propelled the Patriots into the playoffs. ‘Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.

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(left) David and Leslie Kramer, 31 Ledgewood Rd, Kingston, RI, 1994 (right) December 18th, 1994, Patriots 41 – Bills 17

In the first week of the new century, in my Bonnet Shores beach house I watched in horror the “Music City Miracle.” Is it really better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?

16 seconds remaining in the game, Titans tight end Frank Wycheck threw a lateral pass across the field to Kevin Dyson on the ensuing kickoff return, and Dyson then ran 75 yards to score the winning touchdown and earn a 22–16 victory.
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(left) 7 McMillen Way, Narragansett, RI, 1999 (right) January 8, 2000, with 16 seconds remaining in the game, Titans tight end Frank Wycheck threw a lateral pass across the field to Kevin Dyson on the ensuing kickoff return, and Dyson then ran 75 yards to score the winning touchdown and earn a 22–16 victory.

NOTE: To prove my Buffalo bona fides, I retrieved the four Bills cards in my collection. Cornerback Bob James had a solid career with the three Pro-Bowl appearances. Cunningham was basically a journeyman.

O.J. Simpson © 1989 National Football Football League

O.J. Simpson © 1989 National Football Football League. From David Kramer’s collection

Heisman Trophy winner, Hall of Famer and broadcaster, O.J. Simpson was acquitted of double homicide.

(top, l-r) Topps, 1972, 1989 National Football Football League (bottom, l-r) Bob James and Dick Cunningham, Topps 1972

(top, l-r) 1972 Rushing Leaders ©Topps, 1972, O.J. Simpson © 1989 National Football Football League (bottom, l-r) Bob James and Dick Cunningham, © Topps 1972. From David Kramer’s collection

Rather than Cunningham’s beat up card, I wish I had his beat up jersey.

 1972 Dick Cunningham Buffalo Bills Game Worn Helmet This fantastic Buffalo Bills helmet was game worn by Dick Cunningham in 1972 and features the rare, standing buffalo style only used until 1973. The red standing buffalo stickers appear on both sides of the helmet, with red and blue stripes on top. The Riddell helmet has original "water pack" padding inside. The number "63" is written in marker inside the right ear piece, which was the number worn by Cunningham in '72. The helmet shows nice use with scuffs and bruises, and some of one of the blue stripes on top is chipped. There is a May 1972 manufacturer's sticker inside underneath the padding. Sold for: $1,250.40


1972 Dick Cunningham Buffalo Bills Game Worn Helmet
This fantastic Buffalo Bills helmet was game worn by Dick Cunningham in 1972 and features the rare, standing buffalo style only used until 1973. The red standing buffalo stickers appear on both sides of the helmet, with red and blue stripes on top. The Riddell helmet has original “water pack” padding inside. The number “63” is written in marker inside the right ear piece, which was the number worn by Cunningham in ’72. The helmet shows nice use with scuffs and bruises, and some of one of the blue stripes on top is chipped. There is a May 1972 manufacturer’s sticker inside underneath the padding. Sold for: $1,250.40 (lelands.com)

SEE

Why I am rooting for the Patriots

If the Patriots win the Super Bowl, credit Talker

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