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By John Williams

I wasn't always a Buffalo Bills' fan. The Dallas Cowboys were initially my team.

My interest in the National Football League can be traced back 50 years to Sunday January 17, 1971. It was late afternoon and I decided to pay my friend Tim Robinson a visit. He lived across the street from me.

Tim was watching Super Bowl V between the Cowboys and Baltimore Colts all by himself. Boy, have times ever changed.

I caught the final minute as Jim O'Brien kicked a 32-yard field goal to win the game 16-13 and give the Colts the title. I immediately became a Cowboys' fan because I felt so badly for them. I also gained a great respect for Dallas coach Tom Landry who was so gracious in defeat.

I couldn't wait for the 1971 season to begin. I watched in awe as Landry and QB Roger Staubach led the Cowboys to Super Bowl VI - a showdown with the Miami Dolphins. The Cowboys would prevail 24-3 with the likes of Duane Thomas, Walt Garrison and Bob Hayes on offence and Chuck Howley, Bob Lilly and Larry Cole on defence.

I witnessed their Super Bowl triumph over the Denver Broncos in 1978 and their heartbreaking loss to Pittsburgh the following season. When Roger Staubach retired after the 1979 season, I watched his replacement Danny White lead the Cowboys to three consecutive NFC matchups. I was a true fan.

When ownership changed after the 1988 season however, and Tom Landry was unceremoniously let go after 29 seasons at the helm (he was the Cowboys only head coach during that time) my interest in the team waned. I just wasn't taken in with new owner Jerry Jones and Landry's replacement Jimmy Johnson. I didn't like the tandem at all.

I was without a team for two seasons until I moved to the Niagara region in the late fall of 1990. This was Buffalo Bills' country no doubt about it.

I became a fan just in time to experience the heyday of the Marv Levy/Jim Kelly era. While losing four consecutive Super Bowls wasn't a pleasant experience, it was a joy to watch the team qualify every year en route to four AFC crowns.

When I started writing sports for Sports & Leisure magazine in the fall of 1997, I felt I had died and gone to heaven. My first interview was with special teams ace Mark Pike. A consummate professional as well as gentleman, Pike shed light on his career and the importance of special teams. He graced our first magazine cover in November of 1997.

The following winter I met Steve Tasker in the press box during a Buffalo Sabres' home game. He had just retired and his interview was everything I could have hoped for.

In the summer of 1998 I had a dream come true: I scored a one-on-one interview with Marv Levy. The legendary coach was being inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall Of Fame. The press conference to announce the inductees took place on the second floor of the then Marine Midland Arena (the formal ceremony was scheduled for later that fall.)

My interview with Levy lasted 15 minutes. The eloquent coach spoke in detail about his time with the Bills. It was an honor and a privilege.

A year later I did one-on-ones with Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith and Andre Reed. All three legends were in the twilight of their respective Bills' careers so they had a lot to talk about. It was an absolute pleasure to interview all three.

My greatest Buffalo Bills' scoop however, took place in December of 1999. I had approached owner Ralph Wilson in the locker room after a Bills' game. He actually gave me his home phone number. We spoke several days later for 20 minutes about his tenure as Bills' owner. It was incredible.

I wrote sports for S & L Magazine until 2000 and wrote about many people from all walks of sporting life. But it was my stories on the Buffalo Bills and their high profile players, coaches and owner that have taken centre stage. I became an even greater Bills' fan during my time with S & L.

Today, I write for our website which affords me a chance to reminisce.


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