Photo credit to Matthew Lee / Boston Globe

Sunday, August 15th, 2004 – my first true exposure to live football.

Live professional football.

Live Bills football.

It was a simple preseason game, and my old man had just won a few tickets by calling into a radio show. I didn’t care that the game was meaningless, I was sixteen and this was the closest I’d ever come to seeing the game I was fully enamored with in the flesh. I grew up playing baseball and soccer, attending those games at many levels with decent regularity, but nothing compares. I was excited.

Being new to having the game right in front of me, I wanted to watch everything at once. The fans, the coaches, the tailbacks, the linebackers, the scoreboard… but it’s just not that easy when you aren’t used to it. We’re conditioned from watching on television to track the ball and the ball only, so that’s what I’d decided to do. On the first Buffalo series, Drew Bledsoe walked out to take his place under center and set the offense. He took the snap and, almost immediately, was sacked.