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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Buffalo circles the wagons
By Chris Berman
special to ESPN Classic

The city of Buffalo is one of my favorite places in the United States. Why? Because the residents of Western New York and their sports fans ask for very little -- hard work and loyalty and you're theirs for life. I know. In 1988, I picked the Buffalo Bills to make it to the Super Bowl. They finished just short, losing the AFC title game to the Bengals. But I was already taken in as if I was one of them, drinking Genny Cream Ale as if I'd done it for years and years and years.

And you know what, the Buffalo Bills of the '90s are the kind of team we'll never see again. A team built the old fashioned way with teamwork, friendship and hard work. They never complained when they lost four straight Super Bowls. But they gave us memories like the greatest comeback of all-time. Down 35-3 to Houston in the '92 playoffs, the Bills rallied for a 41-38 OT win.

Their brethren, a generation before, won back-to-back AFL championships in the '60s. They played the same way -- with a hard working blue collar defense and Jack Kemp at quarterback. They were a fun team.

And the Sabres, they showed a little flare. The Sabres that we know and love, not so much the recent ones of Dominik Hasek, but the "French Connection" with Gil Perreault, Rick Martin and Rene Robert playing in that fog game in the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals against the Flyers.

In basketball, no wonder Buffalo fans loved the Braves' Randy Smith, game after game he used to go out there and guard and feed Bob McAdoo. In college basketball, down the road a piece, Bob Lanier, he of the big feet, he of the hard work, got it done for St. Bonaventure. Unfortunately, he got hurt as his team made the Final Four.

Sports and Buffalo, you can understand why they go hand-in-hand -- loyalty and hard work equals you're theirs for life. And a reminder, no one circles the wagons like the city of Buffalo.

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