Starkey: Rooting for Super Bowl misery
TribLIVE Sports Videos
If the measure of a man's life is how his team performs in Super Bowls, I died 19 years ago.
People often ask if sportswriters can still be fans. I suppose. But like I said, I'm dead. My last fan day on Earth was Jan. 30, 1994, in a darkened efficiency apartment in Shadyside.
That's not to say I have no rooting interest in this Super Bowl. I do. I want the losing fan base to suffer immensely.
I want them to feel some Buffalo pain.
See, the 49ers and Ravens are a combined 6-0 in Super Bowls.
I'm from Buffalo.
Let's rewind the story to Dec. 16, 1973, the day an 8-year-old boy (me) watched breathlessly from his couch as O.J. Simpson performed the football equivalent to walking on the moon.
O.J. not only broke Jim Brown's single-season rushing record of 1,863 yards that afternoon at Shea Stadium, he cracked 2,000. He finished with 2,003, a figure that shall forever reside in the far recesses of my cranium.
It only got better nine days later when I walked down the backstairs to find a pristine, red-white-and-blue No. 32 jersey under the Christmas tree. I think I wore it for 2,003 consecutive days (obviously, I had no idea that O.J. would become one of the noted scoundrels of the 20th Century, but such is the life of a Buffalo Bills fan — or, in my case, an ex-fan).
The next 15 years were mostly horrible. Chuck Knox had some success, but the Bills never sniffed a Super Bowl.
As a season-ticket holder, I sat through entire exhibition games in the rain. I watched Vince Ferragamo try to play quarterback. I saw a man urinate in a Rich Stadium aisle. Nobody cared.
Then along came Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas and the rest. Little did we know that their crowning achievement would be a 51-3 whipping of the Raiders in the 1990 AFC Championship.
Hemingway could not adequately describe the agony of the next four years. Tell me, which fan base in sports history could possibly relate to the abject humiliation, the unfiltered degradation, of seeing their team lose FOUR CONSECUTIVE SUPER BOWLS?
Bear witness to the increasingly humble surroundings in which I viewed each one …
• SUPER BOWL XXV: A huge party. I'd just moved to Pittsburgh but returned to Buffalo for what promised to be the celebration of a lifetime with my old tailgating buddies.
We tapped kegs, ate chicken wings and did a safety dance (hands above the head) when Bruce Smith tackled poor little Jeff Hostetler in the end zone.
Three tortuous hours later, we were reduced to holding hands in a circle as Scott Norwood lined up for a 47-yard field goal.
I hate Scott Norwood.
• SUPER BOWL XXVI: A small party. We tuned in with great confidence only to see Thomas immediately misplace his helmet. Maybe the worst Super Bowl ever.
I hate Mark Rypien.
• SUPER BOWL XXVII: No party. Just me and my girlfriend. But this had to be the year.
The Bills, after all, had executed the greatest comeback in NFL history four weeks earlier. And I was their lucky charm. I'd begun furiously eating cantaloupe and drinking purified water as the comeback from 35-3 unfolded against the Oilers. I kept doing it through victories over the Steelers and Dolphins.
It didn't work against the Cowboys. The game was over by halftime.
I hate cantaloupe.
• SUPER BOWL XXVIII: I sat alone in my efficiency apartment, lights off and shades pulled, watching on a tiny black-and-white TV — sort of like Nicholas Cage in the final scene of “Leaving Las Vegas.”
The Bills actually led at the half, but I knew they would lose. Everybody knew. The whole world knew.
They might as well have held my fan funeral that evening. Epitaph: “He couldn't take it anymore.”
So, yes, you better believe I want somebody to feel my pain at around 10 o'clock tonight — with two notable exceptions. My sister, Brigid, and her son, Danny, live in Baltimore. My nephew is a die-hard Ravens fan. A nice boy. My sister is a life-long Bills fan.
Surely, she has suffered enough.
Joe Starkey co-hosts a show 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays on 93.7 “The Fan.” His columns appear Thursdays and Sundays. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- In Steelers-Saints game, all eyes on Brown-Lewis matchup
- Salvation Army in W.Pa. uses social media campaign
- Steelers notebook: Defense has a retro feel
- Trib real estate writer Spatter ‘worked right to the end’
- Sloppy Penguins fall to Hurricanes
- Hempfield Area High School senior Richason creates Before I Die wall in Greensburg
- Carnegie boy with rare gene mutation enjoys 1st Penguins game
- Hunting creates strong bonds, traditions
- Auto technology gives mobile computing a new meaning
- McKeesport’s Minerva’s Bakery to be featured on Sebak’s documentary
- Pittsburgh zoo joins effort to rehabilitate sea turtles