Here we are again. I think we have gone through like 4 or 5 of these Saturdays by now.
Will Andre Reed finally get in?
I really don't know if he's going to get in and neither do you. These HOF voters can be a little odd (see: Jason Whitlock on William Roaf and Peter King). If Reed gets in, he will more than likely be the last from the Bills 90's teams to enter the HOF. It is amazing that if Reed gets in he will be the 7th member from those Bills teams to be inducted (Kelly-Levy-Thomas-Smith-Wilson-Lofton). If you put together the rosters of the Redskins, Giants, and Cowboys teams that we lost to in the Super Bowls, the three teams would combine for the same number (LT-Monk-Grimm-Gibbs-Aikman-Smith-Irving). Heck, that number could get to 8 if Bill Polian gets in.
If Reed gets to sport that hideous yellow jacket, we will reminisce about the Super Bowl teams come August when he gets inducted. We will feel all gushy and happy inside while watching old highlights of #83 running over the middle. Those highlights got me thinking about writing this post.
What was Andre Reed's greatest play?
I think when it comes to discussing great plays, you have to factor in the game situation and the actual play. A number of fans would probably come up with Reed's 3 touchdown performance against the Oilers in the wild card game. It's a good choice, but it's not mine.
When I pick a play, I want that play to go beyond the field. It has to be correspond with the inner being of that player. There has to be a story behind it that makes anyone who hasn't seen that player understand why he's a special guy.
When Jim Kelly dove for the goal line for the game-winning touchdown against Miami in '89, it was a tough run by a tough QB. When I think of Chris Drury scoring against the Rangers in the playoffs, I automatically think leader and winner. When Darryl Talley had a INT return for a touchdown against the Raiders in the AFC Championship game, I think about all those years Talley suffered through all the knock-knock jokes about how bad the Bills were.
The play defines the player.
We all know why the Bills from the 90's were special teams. They had a special bond with a city and were highly successful on the field. What sometimes gets lost in the shuffle when reminiscing was the "bond" the team had with the rest of America.
In short: They didn't like us.
You think Tom Brady hated our hotels, you should have heard how America felt about the Bills.
Fans/media grew tired of seeing the Bills every year in the Super Bowl. I remember when Jay Leno called us "The Super Bowl Killers" or when Rick Reily said the Bills winning the AFC was like Miss America winning the title when 10 states weren't involved. I can remember all the obituaries that the talking heads would say about the Bills whenever they struggled. They wanted us gone. Show them a moment of weakness and the press/fans outside of WNY were giddy as school boys finding their first dirty magazines in trying to rip apart the Bills. It happened constantly.
I think that's 1 of the many reasons that made the 90's Bills so special. They were a resilient bunch that not only listened to the skeptics who said they were dead, but would use that against them. A lot of people thought we were dead when we lost the season finale against the Oilers and had to make the SB via the wild card. What happened? We proved them wrong. It happened in 1993 when the Bills were crushed by the Steelers on Monday Night. I remember how Dan Dierdorf had this somber tone in his voice as if he was reading the Bills their death rites as they went off the air.
Besides the winning, I think the responses to adversity are what made me love the Bills during those years. You think we are dead? F that! We are back America, deal with it!
Adversity and a "You're finished" attitude was what Andre Reed faced when he scored my favorite touchdown.
You may or may not remember that touchdown, but it was the season opener in 1996. It was a nice play, right? A vintage Andre Reed touchdown. Quick 3-step drop by Kelly, Reed goes over the middle and turns it up field to blaze past the secondary for a touchdown. Kind of looked like the touchdown he scored against Cleveland in the playoffs or against the Oilers in 1989.
Why does a touchdown that didn't even give the Bills the lead feel so special? Because of what preceded it.
In 1995, Andre Reed had his worst year as a pro. He only started 6 games as he was plagued by a nasty hamstring injury that kept him out for most of the season. When he returned, he was largely ineffective. He had only 3 catches against the Oilers in the season finale and 2 in two playoff games. Yes, a number of fans thought Reed wasn't 100%, but there were haters who thought Reed's best days were done.
Reed heard the haters.
Trust me, there's bulletin board material with players and there are players who take this crap home with them. Reed was one of them. He heard the skeptics. It drove at him for the rest of the off season to come back bigger and faster. In his eyes, people were saying that the Bills were finished (Again) and #83 had lost a step. He wasn't fast anymore. Well, judging by that touchdown, he was still fast and just as fast as telling his hatters to get lost.
What you didn't see was what Reed did after the touchdown. You have to understand, Reed wasn't a showboat wide receiver. He didn't celebrate all that much and would maybe do an occasional spike or put his hands up in the air. For this play, Reed threw the football against the wall like a Roger Clemens fastball and then ripped his helmet off and slammed it to the ground. He then walked around the end zone with his hands on his hips while sporting a Kobe Bryant like scowl. Oh, you knew what he was thinking.
He was finished alright, finished telling everyone that he wasn't dead.
After the game, Reed said he normally wouldn't celebrate a touchdown like that, but because there were whispers that his days were numbered, the emotion caught up to him. Again, it goes back to what made us love this team. It was a constant F-U to anyone who wanted to write us off.
Point proven, wouldn't you say?