ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — There is no God.
OK, maybe that’s a tad extreme. But what can you say when Buffalo returns for a fourth straight Super Bowl? You’re happy? You can’t wait? It’s like being told you have to have your tonsils out again.
For three draining years, Super Bowl Sunday has been plagued by the Bills, and now, as Dolly Parton once sang, here they come again. They are as welcome as locusts at a picnic, or Richard Simmons in a library. They are your least-favorite relative, banging on the kitchen door and saying, “Surprise! Got anything to eat?”
And they are back in the Big Show. Suddenly, football’s spotlight moment has been turned into Oliver Twist, stepping up to the food line and getting gruel, gruel, and more gruel.
Happy? We’re supposed to be happy?
“This is what we’ve waited for all year,” said a jubilant Jim Kelly, after the Bills clubbed the Chiefs, 30-13, to return, yet again, to the Big Game They Always Screw Up. “Of course, we’re not satisfied. There’s one more challenge. We have one more river to cross.”
I am bringing a life raft. Or better yet, a doctor’s note. Severe headache? Late case of measles? Anything to be excused from Sunday’s game. After all, do we really want another Super Bowl where “competitive balance” ends with the coin flip?
“Today’s championship means more than the others, because nobody gave us any credit,” Bruce Smith snarled in the victorious Bills’ locker room.. “They didn’t show us any respect, and we proved them wrong today.”
Well, that’s a matter of opinion. May I remind Bruce and Jim and the other happy Bills that we have seen this scene before? A lopsided win in the AFC championship, followed by a gulp and a sink and dying bubbles in the Super Bowl?
In case you’ve forgotten. . . . Score of last four AFC Championships: Buffalo 120, Opponents 33.
Score of last three Super Bowls: Opponents 109, Buffalo 60.
Chicken pox! That’s it! I have the chicken pox! Montana came to pass . . . out
Now, perhaps, like many football fans, you were counting on Kansas City to save us from this trauma. You figured Joe (Miracle) Montana would liberate the Super Bowl from Buffalo’s clutches. After all, he has been to four Big Games himself, and has won them all. Now, with the Chiefs, he was hungry for another. He had the tools. He had the talent.
Alas, he lacked one important ingredient: consciousness. Early in the third quarter Sunday, Joe was clobbered by three Bills. His head hit the turf; he saw a white flash, felt a sharp pain, and spent the rest of the game on the bench. He’s gonna be really upset that the Chiefs lost — once he wakes up and finds out.
“When I hit him, I knew something was wrong,” Smith said, “because he was lying on the ground, holding his head, and when I asked if he was all right, he just moaned, “Ohhh, ohhh.” That describes the press box after the final gun. Ohh, ohhhhhhhh . . .
Now, please, understand. It’s not that anyone hates the Bills, their players, their coaches, or even their somewhat grumpy fans. It’s just that, well, there’s only one Super Bowl: You like it to last through the first bag of potato chips. Buffalo has tried the postseason three straight times, and each year has been worse than the last. They’re like a really bad nightclub singer who keeps auditioning and you say, “Thank you,” and he keeps singing and you say, “Thank you. . . . THANK YOU. . . . HELLO? . . . “
Of course, Bills fans will point to Sunday and say, “Ahem, were you watching?” And we were. And it’s true. Buffalo was spectacular. Thurman Thomas ran through the Chiefs’ defense like a moving van through marshmallows. The Bills’ offensive line opened holes the size of Canada. The Bills’ defense had four sacks, two interceptions and one concussion.
It was dominating football. And at one point, an NBC announcer wondered aloud: “Why can’t they do this in a Super Bowl?”
Because, you dope, they’re not playing the Kansas City Chiefs in a Super Bowl. They’re not playing the Miami Dolphins, or the Denver Broncos, or the LA Raiders in a Super Bowl. They’re playing teams like last year’s Dallas Cowboys, and this year’s Dallas Cowboys, who — surprise! — are favored to win again.
The flu! Cough. Cough. I suddenly have this terrible flu. . . .
Maybe we’ll try ’60 Minutes’ remedy
Of course, this is not a new sentiment. All last week, pundits were praying that Buffalo would exit in the championship round. This did not sit well with players like Smith.
“To hell with what people wanted to see,” Smith said. “We’re in the Super Bowl. What they’re gonna see is the Buffalo Bills. If they don’t like it, they can turn off their TV sets.”
Hmmm. Is that a football player talking, or a network president?
Well, Bruce is right, I guess. We have two choices: Shut off the Super Bowl and watch “60 Minutes,” or watch the Super Bowl until it gets out of hand, and then watch “60 Minutes.”
Either way, we end up with too much Andy Rooney for a football Sunday. And either way, we’re in trouble. Face it, folks. It’s Buffalo again — against Dallas again. And you have six days left to devise a game plan.
Me? I’m working on a head cold.