If karma is a real thing, the Music City Miracle proved it. Bills fans that were accustomed to competing in the playoffs almost each and every year, are still waiting for a return. Unfortunately, the only return on our minds this week is Kevin Dyson’s 75-yard miracle that will never be forgotten. I stood in my parents’ living room with my father and a few of his friends certain that the play was a forward lateral. When the call was actually made, I’m certain that a small piece of my soul died with Wycheck’s forward lateral. The only thing more ugly than that throw was Rob Johnson’s headband. Once that game ended, so did a stretch of 10 playoff appearances in 12 years. The ride had officially ended. Here we are still waiting to write the next chapter. Still, that chapter will be written here in Buffalo where it all started, unlike so many franchises.

When the Oilers left Houston for Tennessee back in 1996, I was naive to the impact it had on that city. Bills’ fans consider Buffalo a “Football Town” and it is. Texas is a lot different. Football is more than life down there. Hollywood and television have tried to capture how crucial the game is to so many communities down there. I traveled to Houston in the summer of 2000 and witnessed first hand the impact it has on that city and state. Losing their professional team was something many fans didn’t think was possible. I can remember talking to a bartender down there who said, “There is nothing worse than losing something you love and having absolutely no control over it.” We joked all night saying that we would never have to worry about anything like that around here but he warned us to be careful.  A few years later, the Texans returned “to Houston and the future of the Bills was in doubt. The fear of losing the team was bad enough. Having it happen is unthinkable…. Funny how things worked out.

That same bartender really didn’t like Bills fans at that time either. He despised the Titans but still hadn’t forgiven the Bills for what happened on January 3rd 1993. We argued back and forth with this guy about whether or not Wycheck’s throw was a forward lateral, but there was no arguing about what happened during “The Comeback” and he knew it. No Jimbo. No Thurman in the second half. No business winning. “After Bubba got that pick in the beginning of the third quarter, I was sure it was over”, he told us. Many people did. In fact, I told him that many of the Bills faithful left for the parking lot after that play. The Oilers were up 35-3 and few people wanted to stick it out. He asked if I was there and I truthfully answered that I wasn’t. That game wasn’t sold out in time to be on TV, so I listened to Van with my brother while playing NHL 93 on SEGA GENESIS the entire afternoon. Imagine if the Bills hosted a wild card game this year? Not only would it sell out immediately, but also it would never be blacked out. At the time, we were the best team in the AFC but the fan base wanted more. We were spoiled by an onslaught of Hall of Fame talent and took them for granted, not realizing what they had accomplished. Sixteen years later, we seem to have a much better understanding.  

That Houston trip taught me so much about what being a fan is all about. Hearing that bartender talk about his team in the past tense was as frightening as it was eye opening. We were so good back then that nobody could have forecasted the miserable sixteen years since. I watched him painfully comment on how hard it was to watch his team leave, never once thinking that we would have to ask ourselves that question someday. Having history with another franchise is what makes sports great. Having the opportunity to hear the other end of the spectrum adds to the excitement. It can be a hard pill to swallow. So before you write the Bills off this season, remember how lucky we have been around here lately. Remember that this team is here to stay. Remember that bad calls and heartbreaking plays are what we signed up for. Tennessee is a reminder to all of us that the past is behind us and the future is full of many more miracles. Terry and Kim have already made one go our way. Can’t wait to find out who gives us the next one.