The Buffalo Bills in the Playoffs Takes Me Back to the ’90s

Scott Norwood

They made their fans sweat it out, but the Buffalo Bills are in the playoffs again this year with the Jacksonville Jaguars loss this weekend. Their season hasn’t been pretty, but they’re in pretty good form right now and can make a run at the Super Bowl with a little luck.

Whether they achieve that goal or not, just seeing the Bills back in contention for a Superbowl berth takes me straight back to the ’90s. Back then, the Bills being in the playoffs and having exciting moments went together like peanut butter and jelly. Like back in 1993 when they were a wildcard team and had to face the offensive powerhouse Houston Oilers.  And they had to do it without their starting quarterback Jim Kelly, their starting tailback Thurman Thomas, and one of their best linebackers, Cornelius Bennett.  At least they were getting to play in their home stadium if nothing else. 

My old man and I decided to watch the game that afternoon.  My Dad was just a casual football fan and rarely watched a game unless it was the Superbowl, and even then I think it was just because it was a national event, and not because he personally enjoyed it so much.  As for me, I was really getting into football at that point, and watched full games every week, and was excited about all the playoff matchups.  What we thought was going to be just an enjoyable playoff game, turned out to be one of the most exciting NFL games ever played, and featured the greatest comeback in NFL playoff history. 

At halftime, with the score being 35 – 3 in favor of the Houston Oilers, my Dad decided he had seen enough, and changed the channel to some western movie most likely.  Even though the game was a blowout, I decided I wanted to keep watching it and headed off to my bedroom to see the rest of it. 

As the Bills started their comeback and continued to rack up points, I tried to keep my Dad informed by yelling from the bedroom to the living room, “THE BILLS JUST GOT A TOUCHDOWN!  IT’S 35 – 10!”.  “THE BILLS GOT AN ONSIDE KICK!”.  “THE BILLS JUST GOT ANOTHER TOUCHDOWN!!!  IT’S 35- 17!!!”.  It wasn’t until they had come all the way back and took the lead that he became interested once again and changed the channel back to the game.  I rejoined him and we watched the closing moments of regulation where the Oilers tied the game with a field goal with just a few seconds left. 

But that was just a formality, as destiny was clearly on the side of the Buffalo Bills.  The defense picked off a Warren Moon pass that set up the winning field goal from Scott Christie to set the Bills on a course to the Superbowl and left the Houston Oilers on the wrong side of history.

Watch the highlights on YouTube

Now if you’re relatively new to the world of football, you may read that and think that maybe destiny will shine on the Bills again this year, but as Lee Corso would say, “NOT SO FAST”.  Because the Bills have also been on the wrong side of history in the playoffs before, and matter of fact, it was such a moment in NFL history that it earned a nickname..the Music City Miracle. 

Back in 1999, on a cold and snowy Saturday here in the Appalachian mountains, I took a ride with my brother to look for some carpeting for his house instead of just laying on the couch watching football all afternoon.  At the carpet outlet, they had a television set up and were watching the wildcard match-up between the Buffalo Bills and the Tennessee Titans.  The game was a low scoring affair, but I had a seat and focused on the game while my brother was doing his browsing and haggling with the salesman.  When he was ready to leave, the game was half-way through the 3rd quarter. 

We got back home, and I turned on the game, and he decided to sit and watch the end of it with me since it was a close game.  After just a few minutes, we watched the same Steve Christie kick what was thought to be the game-winner with just 18 seconds left to play, but this time, the Bills WERE NOT the Cinderella team.  The Tennessee Titans were as you’ll see in the clip below. 

So as the Bills enter the playoffs once again, I have to wonder if Lady Luck will shine on them this time, or will she be riding shotgun with their opponents?  One thing is for sure, with their history of dramatic playoff games, I’ll be tuning in, and I’m sure all those nostalgic memories of their games from the past will come flooding back again, and take me back to the ’90s once more. I’ll try to forget the one where Scott Norwood went wide right though. That was a heartbreaker right there.

Maybe I should call up my Dad and brother and see if they are up for watching one more Bills playoff game together.

Nintendo Power Magazine Issue #1

Nintendo Power magazine debuted in 1988. From the beginning, Nintendo Power focused heavily on providing game strategy, reviews, and previews of upcoming games. It was an oasis for young Nintendo games, and here in this Time Capsule, I’m presenting the very first issue in full for your enjoyment.

I never got to get my hands on issues of this magazine except for when someone would bring a copy to school. Even then I would only get to browse through it for a very short time before they took it back. So being able to take my time and immerse myself in every page of this first issue has been a real treat. I hope you enjoy revisiting it as much as I have.

The flipbook below is very easy to use, and I suggest enlarging it to full size for maximum enjoyment.

The Christmas Eve Party

As I’m writing this, it’s 6:52 AM on Christmas Eve. I’ve got some spreading of Christmas cheer to do later this morning as I’m going to visit Dad, drop off a homemade cobbler to my brother, spend some time with Mom at the nursing home, make a stop at a store for a last-minute item, and drop in on a few friends for a few minutes along the way.

Running around on Christmas Eve is nothing new for me. When I was younger, I would tag along with my dad as he made his usual rounds on that day. He owned his own business, and back then, it seemed like all of his friends owned and operated their own businesses too. And since these were small businessmen, they were generally open on Christmas Eve as their livelihood depended on working as many days a year as possible.

But Dad would go around and visit each of them on Christmas Eve. I remember stopping by Popsicle Sweat’s used car lot, Billy Wayne’s auto part store, going to see Grey Preston at the local bank, stopping by Estel Venable’s gas station, and dropping in at the fire department, the rescue squad, and the police station as well. Some of my favorite memories of Christmas are these yearly trips around time spreading cheer.

Once all of that is done, it’s time to put the finishing touches on things for tonight’s Christmas party. We’ve got some family and friends coming over for what should be a very enjoyable evening/night. This too reminds me of one of my favorite parts of Christmas growing up…the family parties on Christmas Eve.

Growing up I had huge families on both my Mom’s side and my Dad’s. My Mom was one of eight children, and each of those 8 had a couple of kids. My Dad was one of fourteen! And each of those had multiple kids as well. I had tons of cousins and would see various ones of them throughout the year, but the family get-together on Christmas Eve meant that ALL of us would be together at one time. We ranged in ages from 7-17, so there wasn’t a huge disparity there.

On Christmas Eve, we would start by visiting my Mom’s family. It was always a simple dinner menu of Ham, some veggies, mac and cheese, and a plethora of desserts. The folks would sit around in the kitchen while all of us kids would be in the living room. We’d hoop and holler and go through the presents under the tree, waiting for one of the adults to come in and play Santa Claus. Usually, it was my Uncle Ernest who had a booming voice and was quite intimidating. He would walk in and get real loud, telling us all to get away from the tree or he wouldn’t be handing out anything. He’d then torture us by going through and finding all of the adult presents first and having us run them to the various recipients. He’d finally get through with that and move on to us kids.

With both families, there were so many kids that we drew names. You could count on getting one present from whoever got your name, and a little something from the grandparents as well, which was usually a shirt of some kind. Before we would leave for the other party we had to go to, my Uncle Jack would go out on the front porch and start lighting off Jumping Jack fireworks, and that always got all the kids in an uproar. That is a tradition I need to implement in my own family’s Christmas. I remember how much fun that used to be running from the unpredictable fireworks.

Then we would head over to my Dad’s parents for their party. You could always count on plenty of finger foods and desserts there like sausage balls, cocktail wieners, ham biscuits, cakes, pies, and homemade candies. We would draw names there too and that meant a couple of more presents before heading home. A few of the presents I got in those years stick out in my mind, so I must have enjoyed them quite a bit. I remember getting the G.I. Joe S.L.A.M. Tank, a Three Stooges VHS Tape, and a Popeye VHS tape at various times.

As time marched on and I got married, my wife and I settled into the tradition of going to her family’s Christmas Eve party. I’d sit and watch my kids running around with their cousins just like I used to do. And even though I seemed to hate it as a kid, I emulated my uncle Ernest. I’d go in the living room and tell the kids to quiet down and start picking out presents for the adults and have the kids deliver them before they get any of their presents. Life had come full circle.

Over the last five years though, her family has suffered many losses. Several of the older generation of the family have passed on, some of the younger generation have grown up and moved away, and the family Christmas party has shrunk quite a bit. My wife’s aunt hosted the family party for a couple of decades but these days don’t quite have the energy she once did, so she gave it up last year. At that point, my wife and I stepped in. We hosted a small gathering last year, and this year we’re hosting our first full-fledged family Christmas party.

This suits me just fine because now that my daughters are mostly grown, I expect they’ll be leaving home any year now, and I want to have this family Christmas Eve party tradition established with the hopes they’ll return each year with their families, thus carrying on the tradition I’ve known all my life.

Things are mostly set for a big night tonight, minus a few last-minute details I need to attend to. I hope that with all I’ve learned from the Christmas Eve parties of my past, I can create an atmosphere of holiday cheer and fun that the little ones at the party will be writing about thirty to forty years from now like I am this morning. Or at least have memories they fondly look back on one day. I guess that’s all one could ask for.

Folgers Coffee “Peter Comes Home For Christmas” Commercial

This commercial really got to me as a kid.  It probably had something to do with the fact that my old man traveled a lot, and there were times he would come in early in the morning like this.  Never at Christmas though.  He was always in town for that.  But whatever the reason, this commercial has continued to resonate with me for all these years since I first saw it air. 

I think it embodies the spirit of Christmas in the form I like to think of it.  Families being together, and enjoying simple things in life like a fresh cup of coffee is endearing to me.  I actually keep this commercial on my Christmas playlist on YouTube to make sure I see it every season. It very well might be my all-time favorite commercial.

The commercial debuted in 1985 and played during the Christmas season for two decades. Folger’s updated the commercial with a newer version in 2009.

McDonald’s Christmas Treats from 1988

For the Christmas season of 1988, McDonald’s was offering up not one, not two, but THREE limited-time offerings for the Christmas season.

There was the 9-piece or 20-piece Holiday McNuggets, which featured a limited-time orange sauce for dipping and came in a festive “gift” box inspired by the season.

There was also the frosty Eggnog Milkshake and the rarely seen Peppermint Sundae.

As much as my mom and I would go to McDonalds, I have zero memory of ever getting to try any of these fantastic-looking treats. Back in those days, the thought of egg nog grossed me out so I wasn’t missing anything there, and I’ve always been a die-hard caramel sundae man so I may not have given the peppermint one a try. But those nuggets with the orange sound amazing, and I’m very disappointed that I never got to try them.