With Andre Reed now inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame the legacy of the Buffalo Bills of the 1990’s continues to grow. For a team that never won it “all” that collection of superior athletes has carved out a unique legacy.

There have been teams like the Minnesota Vikings, Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles who have lost more than one Superbowl without a victory. The Vikings join the Bills in also having lost four , but not consecutively. It’s that run of four straight that makes the Bills so special and has earned them over a decade of celebration in Canton.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame telecast Saturday night became yet another stage for the Bills being honored as a great team, not one of the greatest, but special in their own right. Bill Polian, who built that AFC power, has said time and time again that what the Buffalo Bills did from 90′ to 94′ has earned them lasting respect, despite the Superbowl losses.

As time has passed since that last loss to Dallas in 1994 NFL fans have grown to appreciate what those Bills teams represented. A core group of players that found a way to keep their drive for excellence alive despite the heart break of defeat on the biggest stage in American sports.

Looking at how Jim Kelly has persevered through the loss of his son and his current battle against cancer demonstrates the type of mental toughness the leadership on the Bills teams of the 90’s had. It wasn’t just Jim Kelly either, the core group of Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, Daryl Talley, Cornelius Bennett, Frank Reich and Steve TaskerĀ  were over achievers with a high competitive spirit that could not be diminished by defeat. Bruce Smith was one of the few “me” guys on that roster, but Talley was able to keep Smith focused at key times.

Of course Marv Levy’s role as head coach couldn’t be overlooked. Levy has been criticized in some circles for being out coached by Bill Parcels and Bill Belichick in the loss to the Giants, but his ability to corral and motivate that group of star players, despite their contrasting personalities and egos cannot be down played. Levy understood what it took to be a winner and his handling of that team from 1986 to 1994 was a key element in their rise to the top of the AFC.

Now, some twenty years since that glorious, yet maddening run is over, those Superbowl Buffalo Bill teams are recognized as a once in a lifetime occurrence. So many teams that have made it to that big game since, lost and then have fallen back into the pack the next season demonstrate how unique the Bills were.

For those who ask if the franchise is cursed because of those Superbowl losses cannot truly appreciate what perseverance and resiliency those team possessed. Having covered those teams and knowing the players makes me grateful that my career coincided with theirs. The Buffalo Bills of the 1990’s are champions to me in so many ways, regardless of whether they own a Lombardi Trophy. Greatness comes in different forms and and the Buffalo Bills from 1990 to 1994 were simply that, great!




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