Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Review: 100 Things Bills Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die (2012)

By Jeffrey J. Miller

Welcome to a course in the history of the Buffalo Bills. This is your textbook, reasonably priced at $14.95 list.

It is a different sort of textbook, but that doesn't make it any less valid in reviewing the years of play by the National Football League team. "100 Things Bills Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" has more of an emphasis on the 'knowing" as opposed to the "doing," but it's still a worthwhile effort.

Miller is one of the best authors around when it comes to researching the history of Buffalo's football teams. His previous works have been first rate. Miller, then, is a good choice for another in a series of Triumph's books on sports teams designed for a regional audience.

Miller goes through facts about the team, from one through 100. It is in order of importance, more or less. It starts with Ralph Wilson, who brought the Bills to Buffalo in 1960, and number two is Marv Levy. That's followed by the first championship, Super Bowl 25, Jim Kelly, O.J. Simpson's 2000-yard season, and so on.

You probably could argue about the order of a specific chapter if you were so inclined, but it's fair to say that Miller gets to everything worth noting eventually. A little duplication is almost inevitable in this sort of format, but it's not much of a problem. Some of the material features quotes from those who were on the scene at the time, which is always nice to have.

If this is a history textbook, it probably ranks as the intermediate class. In other words, most Bills fans should know some of the stories that are contained here. Speaking as someone who has had plenty of Bills' history, I can assure you that the information here is accurate ... which is more than half the battle in a book like this.

But there are some stories that will either be new to almost any Bills' fan, or at least will shed some light on events. For example, the story of Bills' uniform number 31 is rather charming if mostly forgotten now. The game between the Bills and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League also pops up here, and deservedly so. Extra credit goes to Miller for the chapter on kicker Booth Lusteg.

By the way, the "things they should do" part is about what you'd think it would be - go to a game, visit Canton to see the Bills enshrined, check out the Wall of Fame, attend a draft party, etc.

"100 Things Bills Fans Should Know and Do" definitely works for what it set out to do. It's particularly good for young people, who might not even remember the Bills' Super Bowl run (has it really been 20 years?). Bit it's a worthwhile effort for all ages of Buffalo fandom.

Four stars

Learn more about this book.

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