The Amazing Accomplishment in Four Failures

SB XLVI Media Radio Row051

SB XLVI Media Radio Row051 (Photo credit: fnmartinez)

I promise you all Hand of Ananke is not turning into a football blog. I love the sport, but honestly don’t think I am knowledgeable enough to write about it every day. I do enjoy it though, and the season begins today so over the next twenty weeks or so you may see a post or two about the NFL season. I wouldn’t want to always be preachy in my non-fiction, though I suppose I get that way even when I am writing about my past times. This post will have only a little of that, at least I hope so.

If you are an NFL fan, and certainly if you are a Bills fan, you probably already know what I am going to write about given the title of today’s effort. This season marks the twentieth anniversary of the fourth and final season that the Bills went to the Super Bowl. For four years they dominated the regular season, their division rivals, their conference and the playoffs, only to sputter out against an NFC East powerhouse in the end. The first loss was a heart-breaker and was mentioned, sort of, on Thursday. The exciting, high-octane play of Coach Levy’s talented team was no match for Bill Parcell’s slow and steady approach. This was followed by another heart breaking loss sandwiched by two embarrassments unworthy of one of the greatest teams ever assembled.

I want to go on the record right now and make it clear I am not a Bills fan. I am an Oilers/Titans fan and had to live through “The Greatest Comeback Ever” during one of those seasons and years later, when my boys finally went, the whining that ensued over a lateral. I have plenty of reason to dislike my home region’s team, and its fans. With that said, I would never trivialize what Marv Levy, Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith, and the others accomplished in the early ’90’s.

Haters will laugh and point out that the Bills lost four consecutive Super Bowls. What Buffalo’s fans rightfully point out to those people is that their team went to four consecutive Super Bowls. No other team had done that before, and no other team has done that since. There have been teams, players, and coaches with a lot of hype around them (the Pats and Steelers come easiest to the mind) who never lived up to it. Yes they have gone to, and won the big game, but never have they reached it four times. Never have they completely dominated the opposition through to the big game the way the Bills did under Coach Levy.

For four years his team, consisting of obvious talent like the players already mentioned, but also of a versatile running back, Thurman Thomas (who wore #34 for his favorite player, Earl Campbell, who played for, ahem, the Oilers,) a Division 3 diamond in the rough named Andre Reed, Steve Tasker, one of the few special teams coverage men ever to gain fame beyond the hardcore fans, and forty some other men, all talented, who realized they were more than a collection of individuals, but a team, gave a city in decline something to be proud of and a little happiness. They may never have brought home the Lombardi Trophy, but in those years, and the three years or so preceding that the coach put together that remarkable outfit, they gave Western New York something to shout about, and it did. Maybe the Bills will turn it around. Maybe this year or the next they will give fans something to shout about again, but in the meantime, the fans have those glory years, and the bittersweet memory of four Super Bowl runs. I hope they, and fans all over the NFL appreciate just how much that is worth.

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