Last week, the NFL and YouTube announced a continuation of their partnership to host highlights and interviews, a deal that is gong to be expanding beginning this season.
One of the major new initiatives is the inclusion of a section for each team that will host "three of the most memorable games for each of the 32 clubs," something that is sure to spark debate among fans of every team.
How about for the Buffalo Bills? What three games might the NFL deem worthy of inclusion into the Bills' hierarchy of most important games? Here are a few candidates:
- AFL championship wins: In terms of team highlights, it's hard to ignore the only two championships the team has won, even if they were in the pre-Super Bowl AFL. The 1964 game, in particular, is well-remembered for Mike Stratton's "Hit Heard 'Round the World" on San Diego Chargers running back Keith Lincoln. The problem with these games, however, is actually finding complete game tapes. The NFL archives are very sketchy as one goes further back in time; the league doesn't even have a complete copy of the first Super Bowl. A full AFL game is going to be a very hard find, indeed.
- O.J. Simpson breaking 2,000 yards: As far as individual highlights go, this one has to take the cake. The 1973 finale saw Simpson run for an even 200 yards to become the first running back to break the 2,000-yard barrier (and the only one to do it in a 14-game season). The problem, of course, is that it's Simpson. It's been a very long time since anybody's been interested in glorifying the man, and with the renewed debate about if his jersey number should be reintroduced into circulation, this game is almost guaranteed to be passed over.
- Any game from the 1980s: Are there any true standout games from the decade that would warrant inclusion? The most memorable game from the decade was probably the first: the season-opening victory over Miami in 1980 that broke the team's 20-game losing streak to the Dolphins. This game was before my time, so I can't speak to the in-game tension, but a look at the box score makes it seem like a very sloppy game that wouldn't make for a great out-of-context viewing experience. The debuts of Bruce Smith in 1985, Jim Kelly in 1986, and Thurman Thomas in 1988 were certainly momentous occasions in team history, but were the games themselves all that great? If the NFL is looking at this as a marketing tool, the answer is probably no.
- Any of the AFC championship game wins: While all four were great games for Bills fans, the top member of this group would clearly be the first one, the 51-3 shellacking of the Raiders that set up the first Super Bowl trip. It certainly wouldn't kill anybody to watch the Bills deny Dan Marino a second Super Bowl trip, either, but if any of those games are picked, it's the first one.
- The Comeback: Duh.
- Wide Right/Home Run Throwback: The NFL's press release mentions "memorable" games. It doesn't limit them to "fondly remembered" or "enjoyable for the team's fans." In the broader NFL spectrum, aside from The Comeback, these are probably the two most "memorable" games the Bills have played in. Ideally, they'll be posted on the channel of the winning teams, so we can live in blissful ignorance of their availability, but if the NFL wants to troll the Bills, that's an easy way to do it.
- The comeback against New England: Of all the games in the playoff drought, this stands as the highlight for most Bills fans. A 21-0 deficit against a team that the Bills had lost to 15 times in a row game way to a 34-31 victory and renewed hope that the streak, and the search for a franchise quarterback, were over. Clearly, neither was the case, but it was a great moment, wasn't it?
- Any other suggestions? By no means is this meant to be a comprehensive list, so we'd love to hear any other games you think might make the cut. Bear in mind, there's probably going to need to be some historical significance for any game that makes it on the list. A good game in the middle of the season isn't going to be memorable for the public at large unless something of long-term importance happened.