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ESPN special goes beyond 'Wide Right'

It is three days until Super Bowl Sunday, so you know what time it is. It is time to watch, over and over again, Scott Norwood's 47-yard kick sail wide right in the Bills 20-19 Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants.

It has been an annual event for 15 years.

There can't possibly be anything more to say about the Norwood miss, can there?

Well, yes, there can. At 9 p.m. today, ESPN Classic carries a convincing, fast-paced, half-hour documentary special, "Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame Scott Norwood for the Bills Losing Super Bowl XXV."

With appearances by Norwood, former New York Giants coach Bill Parcells, former Bills coach Marv Levy and ex Bills players Steve Tasker, Jim Kelly, Cornelius Bennett, Darryl Talley and several journalists, the program precedes a repeat of last week's episode of the series, "Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame Dan Marino for Never Winning a Super Bowl." Marino's show also has a Buffalo angle, and will be much more pleasant for Bills fans to watch.

Last week, WGR-AM's sports team dissected that gigantic loss to the Giants in a program dealing with the biggest heartbreaks in Buffalo's sports history. I'm sure WGR covered most of the reasons that Norwood doesn't deserve blame. But I must admit, I had forgotten a couple of things in the game, which I witnessed firsthand in Tampa.

The ESPN show reminded me:

*The Bills blew a valuable 13 seconds by failing to call a timeout shortly before their final field goal drive started on their own 10-yard line. Those 13 seconds might have given the Bills an extra play to get Norwood's kick closer.

*The Giants coaching staff, which badly out-coached Levy and his crew, not only consisted of future New England head coach Bill Belichick, but also future head coaches Charlie Weis (Notre Dame), Romeo Crennel (Cleveland) and Tom Coughlin (Jacksonville and New York Giants).

*It was unrealistic to expect Norwood to deliver a pressure-packed, 47-yarder on grass when kickers in the league from 1986-90 only made 50 percent from that distance on grass. Norwood was only 1-for-5 beyond the 40-yard line on grass, and the one he made was a 41-yarder.

"You're not talking about something very easy to do," said Parcells.

ESPN Classic could have emphasized that point by noting how often kickers have annually missed easier kicks in the playoffs. During this year's playoffs, Indianapolis' dependable Mike Vanderjagt missed a game-tying field goal indoors and Carolina's John Kasay missed an extra point.

The same Parcells clip was shown Monday during an ESPN Classic countdown show rating the top Super Bowls of all time from No.1 to No. 20.

No.1? You guessed it, the Giants victory over the Bills. I suspect that honor is small consolation to Bills fans. So is this Classic show. But it is a keeper.


If you are one of the many Western New Yorkers who have abandoned "ER" (9:59 tonight, Channel 2) for CBS' "Without a Trace," tonight's the night to return. Titled "Body and Soul," it is one of the hospital drama's special episodes starring a feature film actor looking to add an Emmy to his resume.

James Woods stars as Dr. Lennox, a former medical school professor with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) that is complicated by a case of pneumonia. His loving assistant of 15 years, Fran (Ally Walker), and Dr. Abby Lockhart (Maura Tierney) have different interpretations of his treatment wishes, which are relayed by a computer through eye contact.

With flashbacks to Dr. Lennox as a brilliant, inspiring professor as the first signs of ALS appears, viewers eventually understand the motivations behind Abby's determination to keep him alive when he may understandably be ready to give up with some dignity intact.

The flashbacks enable Woods to show Dr. Lennox's vitality before the dreadful degenerative disease robbed him of his movement. His dry sense of humor remains intact, which prevents the hour from becoming too painful to watch. With each passing flashback, the episode becomes extremely difficult to leave and it has a terrific, understated, symbolic payoff.


Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame Scott Norwood for the Bills Losing Super Bowl XXV

Review: 3 stars (Out of 4)

9 p.m. today, ESPN Classic



Review: 4 stars

9:59 p.m. today, Channel 2


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