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A Buffalo Connection

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Scott Jagow (second from right) and other Sabres fans. hspace=2

http://66.225.205.104/Buffalo_Essay.mp3

Like most people from Buffalo - I've stayed connected to the city through its sports teams ... the Bills in football, the Sabres in hockey. We Buffalo fans take our teams personally. When the Bills lose on Sunday, we struggle through the week. And when they win, we dare to hope this is finally our year, even though we're just asking for another broken heart. This bond between Buffalo and the Bills really formed in the 70s. The city lost thousands of jobs, and the Bills lost every single game against their arch rival, the Miami Dolphins. Twenty in a row. Buffalo and its team were miserable together. So, in 1980, when the Bills beat the Dolphins and had a winning season, it looked like Buffalo's fortunes were turning. The city did an ad campaign called "Talking Proud." The end of that season, the Bills lost a playoff game in the final minutes. I cried at the dinner table. I had no idea I'd still be crying as a grown man. In my life, Buffalo has never won a major sports championship, even though we've been within inches, within seconds of doing so. The Bills lost 4 Super Bowls...in a row. There've been so many heartbreaking losses, it's astounding. We give them nicknames: Wide Right, Skate in the Crease, the Forward Pass. I could go on, but it's hard to talk about it. Just about every Buffalo fan has this same attachment, the same psychological damage. Tim Russert, may he rest in peace, once prayed for the Bills to win on "Meet the Press." Film director Vincent Gallo made a move about his family's devotion to the Bills called "Buffalo 66." Sometimes, I don't know how much more I can take, but being a Buffalo fan has given me a unique resiliency. I never give up. I never stop hoping. I think you need that kind of spirit to love a city like Buffalo. It's a tough town, with the snow and the economy and the jokes. And the losing. But the Bills have the greatest comeback in NFL history. They were down 35 to 3 in the third quarter of a playoff game, and they won. And two years ago, the Sabres made a shocking run through the NHL playoffs. We fell hard for that team. They never quit, even when the odds were way against them. It was the perfect team for Buffalo. That year, thousands of people who couldn't get playoff tickets stood outside Buffalo's arena in the cold and watched the game together on a big screen. You just don't see that most places. In the end, the Sabres broke our hearts, again. The sad reality is that Buffalo might eventually lose the Bills. It's a small market that's getting smaller, and it'll be tough for Buffalo to keep the team when cities like Toronto or LA don't have one. I hope that doesn't happen. It might be the biggest loss of all for a city that's already lost so much. And I wouldn't be able to say that thing I've been saying every season my whole life: You just wait til next year! Scott Jagow lives in LA and hosts the Marketplace Morning Report. He still travels back to Buffalo often - to visit relatives and of course, see the Bills and Sabres.