Well, I had a few words of wisdom lined up for you tonight, but having just read the news, you might, or might not get to read them later.
Back in the mid 1980’s (yes, I really am that old), the first TV coverage of American Football reached the UK, and I got hooked. Originally, we got a highlight package, about a week behind, but that quickly turned into live coverage of a match each week, as Channel 4 cottoned on to the fact that they might have hit the jackpot here. But that was it, back in those pre internet days, we were lucky to discover any other scores before the following weekend. But I, along with many others was hooked.
Funnily enough, for me, I had once listened on the radio to part of a game, way back in the 70’s, I caught up with American Forces radio somehow, and listened entranced. I have no idea which teams it was back then, but…
Very soon, people had teams to support, and most flocked to the successful teams of the time, the Cowboys, the Bears and the like. Other perverse souls like me, chose lesser teams to support, and I picked Buffalo, franchise name, the Bills. That first year I supported them, they won 2 games out of 16 all season! Then, during that close season, a rival league shut down, and a quarterback named Jim Kelly signed a contract with the team. They’d drafted him a few years before, but the attraction of playing for an awful team like the Bills, he went elsewhere!
Anyway, for him, he got that deal, signed with the Bills, and things took off from there, aided by a shrewd coach named Marv Levy. Suddenly the team that couldnt win, could barely lose, and in the next few years, they went all the way to the Superbowl, 4 times in a row! Fine, they lost all 4, one on a horrific missed kick, but…they were the second best team in the land, for sure!
Since Kelly, Levy and co retired, the team has gone back to its old moderate (to awful stuff), and havent even made the play offs in a long while now.
But for the sake of this piece, thats all an aside. Back in 1960, a rival to the then National Football League was started, called the American Football League. One of those original teams was the Bills, and the owner was a young, but wealthy man, by the name of Ralph Wilson Jr. Yes, you’ve guessed it, until today, only one man has ever owned the Bills, that man. Tonight, I’ve just first seen the news on Facebook (of all places!) that he has passed away, at the grand old age of 95! He probably was responsible for keeping the team in Buffalo, a far smaller city than most playing in the NFL, so what happens now, who knows? Hopefully they stay there, but…
Rest in peace, great man, the team might have been poor in recent times, but we’ve had some great times in the past, thanks to you. So as they say, thanks for the memories.
Just an additional few words, on a sort of related basis, to mention that sadly Jim Kelly (at a much younger age) is suffering badly with cancer, and my thoughts go out for him, and hopefully you will do the same.