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Sports Then and Now



Sports and Politics in Buffalo: More Than a Game 3

Posted on June 29, 2011 by John Wingspread Howell

I’ve gradually gotten to the point that Twitter is my primary means of relating to people. My favorite use of the social medium is exchanging comments on Sabres games during games. It doesn’t matter who’s at the game and who’s in the TV room at home. We’re all sitting next to each other in the same section in the virtual arena.

Often we commiserate with each other about bad plays, missed opportunities, and foreboding signs from the tone and tenor of play by our hometown heroes. There is usually a hero, especially when the game goes well. I remember one of my “tweeps” (Twitter friends) typing “Gerbe Gerbe Gerbe Gerbe” when little Nathan Gerbe made stellar play after stellar play as the Sabres momentum toward an unlikely playoff berth started to build in one game late last season.

Buffalo is a unique town, even among small market towns. We are what we are, and because we are the butt of snow jokes and worse-than-Cleveland insinuations, our rust belt hackles get up quite easily. The upside of that syndrome is that it gives us a stronger sense of collective angst. We are David against the Goliaths of the world. We are on the side of justice on behalf of all the worlds victims and underdogs.

That being said, it was providential and perhaps inevitable that New York State’s greatest political victory for the underdog came as Buffalo sports fans, normally so obsessed with sports that we can be oblivious to the real world, were following the NHL draft and the unveiling of the Buffalo Bills new uniforms, all in one night. Read the rest of this entry →

Brave-Throat: Metaphysics, Simple Math, The Super Bowl and the Stanley Cup 5

Posted on June 21, 2010 by John Wingspread Howell

This is part three in a series:

The second pick in the 1972 NBA draft, Bob McAdoo won three scoring titles in four full years with the Buffalo Braves.

This time he wanted to meet at the Anchor Bar. I thought it was rather bold, considering his secretive, back alley, after dark, jump in, jump out of a smoke-glass stretch limo style at the previous two meetings…until I realized he meant three in the morning, not three in the afternoon.

In the far end of the parking lot, the black limo dissolved into moonless darkness. I had a feeling it wasn’t just coincidence all the street lights within 50 yards were out.

I pulled up parallel to the limo, slid my window down and waited, as instructed. A moment later, the window next to me slid down.

“Hop in,” he said.

I obeyed.

“You don’t get it.” He complained.

“What?”

“Why do you think I’ve been calling these meetings? I need you to take action. Start the ball dribbling, so to speak.”

“What’m I supposed to do?” I asked. “I’m just a Sports Then & Now contributor. A volunteer journalist. The largest audience I’ve had for an article is a couple of thousand, and that was my tongue-in-cheek prediction that the Bills would win the next Super Bowl.”

Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Earl Morrall: The Perfect Backup
      November 16, 2019 | 10:46 am
      Earl Morrall

      In a career that started in 1956 and ended in 1976, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was never really a leading man, but he seemed to be part of the supporting cast for many huge moments in NFL history.

      The second overall pick in the 1956 NFL Draft out of Michigan State, Earl Morrall joined a San Francisco 49ers team that already included the famous “Million Dollar Backfield” of Y.A. Tittle, Hugh McElhenny, Joe Perry and John Henry Johnson.

      Morrall started four games during his rookie season, but just before the start of the 1957 season was traded along with guard Mike Sandusky to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for linebacker Marv Matuszak and two first-round draft picks.

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