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Been There, Dunked That by Brian Dunkleman: Are You Ready?

6-3-16BrianDunkleman

Ah September. The time of year when a young man’s fancy turns from golf to football.

Don’t get me wrong. I still play golf year round, but football season is my favorite season of the year.

I’ve always loved football, however I only played one year when I was younger. I was a member of the Ellicottville Little Eagles Midget team for one season, received Rookie of the Year honors, and then immediately retired. I wanted to go out on top.

And while we’re on the subject, Midgets? We’re still calling it that? I don’t claim to be the most politically correct person in the world, but maybe it’s time for a reexamination. Although the Ellicottville Little Eagles Little People Division does seem a bit cumbersome.

As a native Western New Yorker, I am a bit ashamed to admit I wasn’t always a Bills fan. Between the ages of six and nine, I was a huge Steelers fan. There isn’t a picture of me from that time when I’m not wearing a Pittsburgh hat. All I can remember is that at such an early age, I saw their uniforms and thought, “black and gold – that looks so cool.” Or maybe it was the fact that they were the dominant team of the seventies and I just enjoyed feeling like a winner. All I know is that my family did not hide its resentment.

Once my sense of regional loyalty kicked in, I embarked on the long, painful journey of being a diehard Bills fan. My left eye is starting to twitch as I type this.

Being a Bills fan is kind of like being Charlie Brown. Every year we think we’re going to finally kick that football and win a Super Bowl, only to have Lucy pull it away at the last second, leaving us flat on our back. And by Lucy, I mean Belichick.

All real Bills fans are well aware of the fact that we hold the unfortunate distinction of having the longest playoff drought in the entire league. Sixteen seasons.

16 years.

This year’s high school seniors were babies the last time we made the playoffs. Excuse me a moment while I wipe away the tears from my computer screen.

It was a forward lateral, DAMMIT!

As painful as the Music City Miracle was, those old enough remember the two words that feel like a knife to our heart every time we hear them.

Wide right.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed quite an affinity for Scott Norwood. For some reason, I just relate to someone who has to go through the rest of his life thinking about such a big missed opportunity.

I was a student at Rochester Institute of Technology when we lost that Super Bowl. As painful as it was to lose that game, I will always laugh when I think about how that day played out for one of my best friends. He was attending another college and was so intoxicated by game time that he passed out right after Whitney Houston sang the National Anthem. Three hours later his fraternity brothers woke him up just in time to see Norwood’s miss.

He’s probably better off.

Everyone knows that we went on to lose three more Super Bowls in a row. We all know that people view us as a laughing stock for those four straight losses. That’s not how I view us.

I look at what an unbelievable amount of character it took to rebound every year to make it all the way back to the final game. Look at how few Super Bowl losers even make it to the playoffs the next year. What Buffalo did during that amazing run will never be accomplished again.

Sure, I wish that we had won just one of those games. But I would rather feel the pride of knowing what incredible heart those teams had in order to overcome such devastating disappointment time and time again than to have won several times as cheaters.

I’m looking at you, Lucy.

I don’t care how many years it’s been. I’ll always get excited when September rolls around. I know it’s possible. Cleveland has a championship team. CLEVELAND!

Maybe this year we finally get to kick that ball. Or maybe next year. Hopefully it’ll happen before my three-year-old graduates high school. After all, Lucy can’t live forever, can he?

LET’S GO BUFFALO!

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