When Kevin Dyson famously returned a “lateraled” kickoff for a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills in their wild-card playoff game in 2000, he crushed more than the souls of Buffalo Bills fans: In making the score 21-16, all bets were turned into pushes and Al Del Greco’s subsequent PAT killed off any payout on “Bills -5” tickets…
Most millennials can hardly recall a winning (much less memorable) Buffalo Bills team, while those of Generation X will forever mentally link the expression “Buffalo Bills” with “four consecutive Super Bowl losses” and/or “the Music City Miracle.” But the aging Baby Boomers may yet remember a Buffalo league champion – back-to-back titleists, even: The 1964-65 Bills, to be exact. These teams quarterbacked by future Republican vice-presidential nominee Jack Kemp went 22-5-1 over two seasons and won two AFL titles.
Sadly, though, even when the Buffalo Bills are successful, a long run of failure sprinkled with hard luck always seems to follow. After the 23-0 victory over the San Diego Chargers in the 1965 AFL Championship – arguably the greatest game in franchise history – came a loss in the first-ever AFC title game the following year, chased in turn by two decades of mediocrity featuring three playoff appearances and just one playoff win. In sum total, the first 22 NFL seasons by the Buffalo Bills were one seriously almost entirely forgettable run for the league annals.
Did NFLbets write “*almost* entirely forgettable”? Indeed, as at least one Hall of Fame-level player captured the nation’s imagination (if not very many Ws, thanks to notoriously cheap ownership), rewriting the record books and becoming the greatest at his position since the GOAT, Jim Brown. We are of course referring to Orenthal James Simpson.
Breaking these almost entirely forgettable stretch were the Bills teams built by head coach Marv Levy & Co. beginning in 1987. The likes of Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, James Lofton, Bruce Smith and Cornelius Bennett lorded over the AFC during the 1990s, with eight playoff appearances after double-digit win seasons and, of course, those Super Bowl losses. The Bills’ 1999 season ended with Levy’s benching of Doug Flutie for the subsequent Music City Miracle win by the Tennessee Titans.
As a result(?), the Bills haven’t made the playoffs for the entirety of the 21st century.* After Drew Bledsoe’s career disintegrated in the early 2000s, the Bills have started notables like Kelly Holcomb, J.P. Losman, Trent Edwarrds, E.J. Manuel and Kyle F. Orton at QB while head coaches in the post-Levy era include a “Who’s Who” of incompetence: Mike Mularkey, Dick Jauron, Chan Gailey, Doug Marrone and Rex Ryan. All things considered, NFLbets figures the run of futility looks to last, through, what, 2027?
*If you seem to recall the 2017 team squeaking into the playoffs based on strength-of-schedule tiebreakers after trying to tank throughout the season, well, you remember incorrectly. That simply didn’t not happen.