Thursday, November 22, 2012

Brush with greatness: the Buffalo Bills

Happy Thanksgiving all. I hope you're treating your stomach well. Since this holiday is an ode to carbohydrates, I am watching my intake while still trying not to take all the fun out of the day.

Mostly I am redirecting my interests from food toward football, something that I have only watched out of duty over the last few Thanksgivings. But today I am really trying to pretend to care about the Lions and the Redskins and ... well, hell, nothing on earth will get me to care about the two teams in the last game.

As I've said before, I used to be a very big football fan. It was very easy to be a football fan in Buffalo in the late '80s/early '90s, what with all the playoffs and Super Bowls. And then things got easier when I started covering Bills games.

In fact, I just dug out the first article I ever wrote about the Bills. I wrote it on Oct. 30, 1988 at the first NFL game I ever covered. I was six months out of college and the Bills were playing the Packers. Green Bay was horrid at the time -- as they were for much of the '80s -- and the Bills beat them 28-0. My job was to do a story on the defense.

So I interviewed linebackers Shane Conlan, Ray Bentley and Darryl Talley, and free safety Mark Kelso.

I'm sure it was pretty heady stuff at the time, walking into a professional locker room, with all of the bigshot TV media types and the veteran newsmen all scrambling with this KID for interview time.

The fact is, I don't remember much about it at all.

The same can be said for all of the six Bills games that I covered during a two-year period. I can remember a few notable instances -- which I hope to recount in future Brush With Greatness posts -- but that is about all. For the vast majority of interviews, I can go back to the articles, read the quotes, and have no memory of walking up the players or how they interacted with me -- nothing.

I've written about this before. It's a product of being in this business for 25 years and, basically, of getting old.

I can't possibly do Brush With Greatness segments for all the Bills players I interviewed back then because I'd have nothing to say. But I DO want to obtain cards of all of those players. I've been very neglectful in this area, and I want to start finding cards of each of these players.

So if anyone has '80s/'90s cards of the following Bills players, I am interested:

Shane Conlan
Mark Kelso -- although I have the one you see already
Ray Bentley
Darryl Talley
Kent Hull
Thurman Thomas
Robb Riddick
Leonard Smith
Fred Smerlas
Scott Radecic
Jamie Mueller
Art Still
Steve Tasker
Erroll Tucker
Scott Norwood
Leon Seals
Bruce Smith

I'm also interested in obtaining a card of Marv Levy, as well as non-Bills John Elway and Jay Schroeder, and coaches Jim Mora, Lindy Infante, Mike Shanahan and Jerry Glanville.

Most of these NFL folks worked during the overproduction era of cards, and I'm more than willing to take any old Pro Set card, whatever you got. It doesn't matter how cheap the card, just who is on it.

I have almost no football cards, so I can't trade football for football. But I could send some baseball your way. Or, if you're interested in modern football cards, give me a few days to run down to Target and I'll open a few packs (I wouldn't mind keeping a few 2012 football cards myself).

A few of the guys on the list above -- I can see three there for sure -- will have a future BWG post, as I can remember particular instances with them. After that, I'll take care of the hockey guys I've talked to, and then that will be it for the series.

Unless I can unchain myself from the editor's chair and actually go out and cover a pro athlete again.

At any rate, covering the Bills of that period as a 23-year-old was quite the kick. It was a special time for the city and for me. I'm grateful I have most of those old articles -- no matter how painful they are to read. But what I really want now are the cards.

I sense a Brush With Greatness binder on the horizon.

Although I need another binder to fill like you need another piece of pumpkin pie.


  1. I've got way too many early 90s football cards in the attic. I'll make a trip up there tomorrow and see if I can find some from your list.

  2. I've got several of these guys that will be in your next package. I still don't know how I accumulated around 2000 football cards, because I don't remember ever collecting or buying them. Oh well.

  3. Wish you would wrote this before I moved from MO because I had cards of virtually all those guys but left them all to a friend when I moved.

  4. I can definitely help you with the Buffalo Bills cards. I have extras of many of those guys, especially Thurman. My football collecting has slowed considerably, but I still buy Bills cards whenever I come across them in discount boxes, etc.

    Go Bills!

  5. Thanks for the help, guys.

    Working out a deal with buckstorecards, but I'll take any extras, as long as I still have some cards to offer in return.

    hiflew: I've got the Sheffield relic in your stack.