As I have now reached the point in my life that can be accurately labeled my late 40’s, it has become more important to me to try and accomplish things. Allow me to give you some background. I enjoy baseball. I have since I was a kid. As a native Georgian, I have been a lifelong fan of the Atlanta Braves. I admire contemporaries such as Dan Uggla, Brian McCann or the Upton brothers. If you were to ask me who my favorite Brave is, I will not hesitate in telling you it is Hank Aaron. Simply put, Aaron represents everything I love about the Braves and baseball in general. The fact that more than 30 years have passed since Hammerin’ Hank has played for the Braves does not sway moutdevotion one iota.
Football is a sport that I also enjoy watching immensely. I just don’t share the same love that I have for baseball. My wife, on the other hand, loves football. In particular, my wife (along with many members of her family), love the Buffalo Bills. My wife also loves the contemporaries such as Spiller, Manuel, and Dareus. Ask my wife who her favorite Buffalo Bill is and she will not hesitate in telling you Joe Cribbs. Cribbs, like Hank Aaron can prove to be a controversial choice. Still, your sports hero is your sports hero.
Fast forward to October 1, 2013 when my wife and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. I didn’t have the biggest budget but I DID have a way to make this anniversary special. First, I took my wife to Jay’s Diner in Rochester, NY. This is where my wife and I had our first date. After we ordered our food, I presented my wife with her anniversary present. With the help of a close friend, I arrange to get two tickets to see the Buffalo Bills play the Cincinnati Bengals. To make it even better, our seats were 8 rows from the Buffalo Bills end zone. To put it mildly my wife LOVED her gift. She had not been to see a live Bills game in more than 10 years.
This was also going to be a special experience for Yours Truly. I have had the joy of seeing a few Braves games at Turner Field. This game would be my first live NFL game EVER. The friend who helped me acquire the tickets was also a devoted, lifelong Bills fan.We were also bringing his girlfriend and a mutual friend and colleague. I was the only one in the bunch who did not eat, sleep, and breathe Buffalo Bills.
The morning of the game was an early start. We were on the road before 7 AM for a game that started at 1 PM. My wife and friends were ready to show me what a tailgate party was all about. The food was great. The company was greater. We parked on a house lot outside of the stadium to sidestep the much stricter tailgate rules at Ralph Wilson Stadium. As game time got closer, we made the less than 5 minute walk toward the stadium.
As we got to our seats, I could not help but notice the energy in the stadium. It was magnanimous and it was infectious. Standing on a balcony just off the field was Scott Norwood. That’s right, NFL LEGEND Scott Norwood. The balcony was positioned between the uprights of the Bills end zone. I imagine it must have been a sweet sight for Norwood when the Bengals missed a field goal attempt during the game. This game would also mark the return of punter Brian Moorman to the Bills lineup. My buddy loves Moorman as much as I love Hank Aaron so it was a great day for all of us.
The Bills played valiantly but fell to the Bengals 27 – 24 in overtime. However, in spite of this I must point out what made this game special to me. That’s right folks, another bulleted list:
- Dealing with the constant challenge of switching my focus from the field to the jumbotron and back to keep up with the game. Every play was – field, jumbotron, field, jumbotron, cheerleaders, field.
- Figuring out that once the game was 10 times more intense every time it was close enough to watch without the aid of the jumbotron.
- My friend made a sign that read: “Welcome Home Moorman!” His sign made it on to the jumbotron. When I saw the sign on the screen, I pointed to it. That’s right people – MY FINGER WAS ON THE JUMBOTRON FOR MILLIONS TO SEE!
- After the game was over, my throat and my feet were killing me. Furthermore, every great play resulted in a bunch of high fives that were delivered with enough force to obliterate my rotator cuff.
- A fan wearing a Bengals jersey was escorted from the stadium in handcuffs. I have no idea what his transgression was but it somehow made the experience sweeter.
I have witnessed some great games. One fine example would be watching Herschel Walker lead the Georgia Bulldogs to a victory over Notre Dame. Still, this day in Buffalo marked the best football game ever. Yes, the Bills fell to the Bengals. Still, who got to experience his first live NFL game, celebrate his 20th wedding anniversary, and score points with his wife…THIS GUY!