Top Five Buffalo Football Moments
Being tortured Buffalo football fans, we hear far too often about "Wide Right" and the "Music City Miracle." That's because there are few positive memories interspersed throughout the eternity of suffering. Chicago Cubs fans complain about being cursed, but they have the Bulls, Blackhawks, White Sox, and Bears to rely on. Here, we have next to nothing. So let's revisit those few positive memories to make ourselves feel better for a short time, after which we will surely continue drinking away our collective pain.
5. The Win
Though it wasn't on television, Buffalo fans everywhere exhaled a huge sigh of relief yesterday when the Bills finally won their first game of the season, beating the Detroit Lions 14-12. It was head coach Chan Gailey's first win in Buffalo. The victory didn't come easy – Lions quarterback Shaun Hill led the Lions down the field late in the fourth quarter for a would-be game-winning drive, scoring a touchdown to make the score 14-12. However, the Lions failed to score the two-point conversion that they needed to tie the game, and the Bills escaped with the victory. How appropriate that the Bills ensured that they wouldn't go 0-16 against the only team in history to ever complete the feat.
4. Flutie Bootleg Left
Thurman Thomas admitted to alcoholism after retiring from the NFL, so it wouldn't surprise me if he was drunk when he ran the wrong way on a crucial 1998 fourth-and-goal that decided the game between the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars. This didn't faze the great Doug Flutie, who took it upon himself to improvise, race left past the defense for a touchdown, and jump into Bruce Smith's arms in celebration. Just thinking about it makes me hungry for Flutie Flakes.
3. UB Bulls Win MAC Title
It was only two years ago, but it seems very far away now. Back in 2008, the football team had itself an amazing season, winning the Mid-American Conference's East Division outright for the first time in school history. Still, nobody expected them to stand a chance against the MAC West champions, undefeated No. 12 Ball State. At the MAC Championship game at Ford Field in Detroit, the Bulls shocked the world by defeating the Cardinals, 42-24. The Buffalo defense led the way, forcing four turnovers, and the Bulls earned a trip to the International Bowl in Toronto.
2. Bills Go to Four Straight Super Bowls
Laugh about it all you want because they lost them all, but no other team has ever been to four straight Super Bowls. Bills fans today would trade anything for the teams of the early 1990s, when Buffalo dominated the AFC and was a perennial Super Bowl favorite. Hall of Famers Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Marv Levy, and Bruce Smith (along with Andre Reed, who belongs in the Hall of Fame, and a host of other phenomenal players) provided fans with one of the most exciting teams in NFL history.
1. The Comeback
When the Bills were losing 35-3 just after halftime of an AFC Wild Card postseason matchup against the Houston Oilers, many fans were heading for the exits of Ralph Wilson Stadium because of the score, the cold weather, and the fact that backup quarterback Frank Reich was playing in place of the injured Kelly. By the end of the third quarter, those same fans were trying to climb over the walls to try to sneak back in, because the Bills were making an improbable comeback. Winning by a final score of 41-38 in overtime, the Bills had completed the 32-point comeback, which remains the biggest comeback in NFL history (regular season or playoffs) to this day.
Best Sports Bars
Amherst Ale House
The Amherst Ale House is located on Crosspoint Parkway near Millersport Highway and N. French Road – a quick five to 10-minute drive from North Campus.
It's a small sports bar with a friendly staff and good-looking waitresses, and it's located in Amherst, so there's a low possibility that you'll get robbed on your walk out.
In terms of ability to watch the game, you can't go wrong with the TV-to-room size ratio. Right behind the bar, there are three giant flatscreen TVs that everyone in the entire bar/restaurant can see. There are a large number of flatscreens around the entire perimeter of the place as well.
During a Sabres game, the bar plays the sound of the game on the bar's audio system, and there is "special lighting and music to enhance the experience."
This is not a college bar; there is an older crowd. But don't worry, guys – there's plenty of cougars, as there is even a sign over the bar that states, "Cougar County."
The menu is great, and there is a very healthy variety of beer, with over 100 different beers both on tap and in bottles. There's only one problem; it doesn't exactly fit a college student's budget, unless you're drinking during the Sabres game.
Their Sabres game specials include half off pitchers of Molson and Coors Light and half-priced medium pepperoni pizzas. But this is a limited time deal that only lasts until the Sabres win the Stanley Cup.
Santora's Phase II
Santora's is located within walking distance of North Campus, right on the hotel strip – also known as Flint Road. So drink and don't worry about driving.
Pizza, beer, and wings. That's sports, and that's what Santora's has to offer its clientele. And the prices are solid enough to fit a college student's budget.
The pizza is serviceable, not great, but you can't go wrong with the deals to take advantage of during any sports games. These deals are good during any game, but the best deals are available during a Sabres game.
Santora's has a quick and friendly staff. There are plenty of seats if you want to grab a table to watch the game, or you can stand and watch at the bar. If your team is losing badly and you can't stand watching them anymore, there is an arcade to relieve your stress.
The view of the game is great; there are numerous TVs visible from any seat in the restaurant. But don't expect a variety of games on during a Sabres game. You can ask for a game that you want to watch, but they might move you and your table to a secluded section of the restaurant where no one else can see the TV.
Best Buffalo Ballin'
The Queen City has a lot more places to play sports than Alumni Arena or your backyard. Here are the best places to go to for recreational fun at the University at Buffalo and around the city.
On-Campus: Although Walter Kunz Field is the most well-kept field available to students, it is often crowded with intramural activity. Governors' field has a decent enough amount of space to offer playing time to all campus students. The field is kept relatively clean, and its location near Governors Complex provides a good opportunity to invite more people to play the sport.
Off-Campus: Buffalo locals have come to the general consensus that Delaware Park is the spot to go to for football. Visitors have described the park as a lively, aesthetically pleasing area that is prime for recreational sports. The wide-open field is favored due to its few elevation changes and accessible location. Plus, it is only a little way off of the Main Street line.
On-Campus: Alumni Arena is the mainstay for intramural basketball on North Campus. As a result, you can find a lot of competition in the triple gym when the league games are not in session. The only thing a person has to do is to bring a ball and wait a while to get on the fresh hardwood.
Off-Campus: Delaware Park's outdoor basketball courts have cracked cement and torn nets. However, it still remains the spot to go to for Buffalo natives. People looking for quality courts will have to look at the Sweet Home courts or the athletic facilities in the Collegiate Village near South Campus.
On-Campus: There are two baseball fields across the parkway at the Northtown Center, formerly known as the Amherst Pepsi Center. These sets of bases are almost always open despite the fact that it is the only baseball field near campus. There are many other open spaces on campus, but if you want to run the bases, the short trip across Millersport Highway is well worth it.
Off-Campus: A good number of Buffalo's parks have a baseball field. However, they are not the main draw for many recreationalists. The people who go off campus solely to play baseball are usually at the high schools. These schools' fields are usually well-maintained and are open to the public. Two standouts are Amherst Central High School and Lancaster High School. Others go to Shoshone Park near the LaSalle Station of the Metro because of its serviceable baseball fields.
On-Campus: Unless you want to spend the time to set up a net at Governors' field, Walter Kunz field is the place to go for soccer. Just be prepared to wait if there are intramurals going on.
Off-Campus: Soccer players will run into the same situation as baseball players when it comes to off-campus fields. High school fields are the best bet, though Shoshone Park is another viable option. However, they will have to mark off the goal line when they play there, since Shoshone is mainly a baseball park.
On-Campus: Despite Buffalo being a hockey town, there are not many popular places to hit the ice. The one place to bring your skates to near campus is the Northtown Center. This spot has roller hockey, ice hockey, and figure skating available to its paying customers. Also, the open grass outside the complex provides a great opportunity for some field hockey.
Off-Campus: For more than 10 years, the Rotary Rink at the downtown Fountain Plaza offers free skating to the public. Skate rental for students is cheap at $3. For a more competitive edge, the Epic Center in Williamsville houses both a field and inline hockey facility. There is a fee to use the rinks, but with a few friends, it shouldn't be too much of a factor.
On-Campus: The Ellicott Tennis Courts are the perfect spot to go for tennis aficionados. With 13 hard courts, the tennis complex ensures that no one is ever left on the sidelines. If the courts are good enough for the 2010 Mid-American Conference regular season champions, then surely they must be good enough for individuals looking for a solid tennis match.
Off-Campus: Delaware Park also provides a close, off-campus alternative for tennis action. There are many other tennis facilities, such as the Miller Tennis Center in Williamsville, but tennis players will have to pay for membership there.
On-Campus: The Grover Cleveland Golf Course borders the South Campus and is a decent spot for the swings. With affordable prices, Buffalo students can spend an afternoon teeing off at this small but decent 18-hole golf course.
Off-Campus: Right on Maple Road, there is an 18-hole golf course that has undergone recent renovations that make it better than ever. With a friendly staff and a decently affordable fee, Amherst Audubon Golf Course is a solid place to shoot a round. Another cheap off-campus golfing option is a 9-hole course at Cazenovia Park in South Buffalo.