(originally posted here)
The other day I was bored at work. Stop the presses, someone was bored at their job? Oh yeah, it happened. Whilst counting the innumerable seconds til my departure, I started thinking of Chris Berman's famous quote, "Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills." Any Bills fan knows this by heart just as they know their ABC's, but I wanted to see what this phrase actually means and whether or not it is in fact a true statement. So, here's what I turned up.
Definition of "To Circle the Wagons", according to dictionary.com:
circle the wagons,
(in the early U.S. West) to form the wagons of a covered-wagon train into a circle for defensive purposes, as against Indian attack.
Slang . to prepare for an all-out, unaided defensive fight: The company has circled the wagons since its market share began to decline.
We all kind of know it has to do with the old West and bringing covered wagons into a circular, defensive formation. Taken at that alone, that would basically mean to stop an attack, not necessarily to strike back. We Bills fans, however, are well aware that when used in reference to our beloved Bills it means to make a comeback or to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds for a victory (or a return trip to a Superbowl...several times).
No Bills fan worth his weight is unaware of the 1992 AFC Wild Card game vs. the late Houston Oilers when the Bills overcame a 32-point deficit built even into the second half to beat the Oilers and eventually advance to the franchise's third straight Superbowl. Any die-hard NFL fan knows this as "The Greatest Comeback in NFL History", and in fact it's recognized as such at the Hall of Fame in Canton, OH.
Other points of note about this game which make it even more miraculous and worthy of a wagon-circling distinction is the fact that a week prior to that game the Bills had lost to the Oilers and had lost Jim Kelly, their starting QB who you can also find enshrined in Canton, for what would be the remainder of their Superbowl run. Frank Reich and Andre Reed are no strangers to wagon-circling themselves.
Do yourself a favor and take another quick look at that very same link. We all know Buffalo, kings of the comeback, circled the wagons against the Oilers in the playoffs, but two spots down from that you might notice they make the list of the NFL's greatest comebacks again. However, this time it's during the regular season and a half-dozen years later behind none other than...Todd Collins? Yep, that's right, Todd Collins, a quarterback who sticks out in my mind as just about as good as Rob Johnson; not good. Antowain Smith playing in his prime that day was also a good help in that, the third greatest comeback in NFL history (2nd greatest in the regular season and 2nd greatest Buffalo Bills comeback).
Let's throw in a few more little bits of info here. How about the fact that the Bills, after losing Superbowl after Superbowl, continued to battle back (even from a wild card position) to make it back to the Big Dance. Circle the wagons much?
One more from recent history, let's look at the beginning of the 2008 season when the Bills won 4 straight games, 2 of which were consecutive 4th quarter comeback wins. Given, you could also make the argument that the wagon circle broke after that point in the season and that nobody chokes like the Buffalo Bills but I'll save that argument for Bills-hating fans to laugh about while screaming "J-E-T-S", losing 15 games in a season, or playing dress-up and firing cap-guns at the start of a game (It's cute how their boots match their purses isn't it?). My point is the Bills have even circled the wagons in recent memory.
It's been a long while since we Bills fans have had anything nearly as exciting as the historic comebacks of the 1990's Buffalo Bills to cheer about, but those comebacks remain NFL legend and the Bills, though decidedly less capable of executing on a consistent basis and in the midst of another rebuilding season, have proven worthy of Berman's famous quote.
Conclusion: the statement remains true. Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills. Now I want to see the Buffalo Bills circle the wagons like the Buffalo Bills because if not, I can see that quote changing too something along the lines of, "Nobody circled the wagons like the 1990's Buffalo Bills." I don't like how that sounds, so this season, just as seasons passed, I will hold my breath in the 4th quarter and hope to see some of the wagon-circling I used to see.