Still buzzing over Sunday's game, and eager to talk some football, I stopped off at Cole's on Monday night. As usual, my old pal Rex Carr was sitting by himself at the end of the bar.
Rex had two pages of the newspaper spread out in front of him. The NFL standings were on the left, the NHL standings on the right, a foamy draft beer sitting right between them.
"Great time to be a Buffalo sports fan," Rex said as I slid onto the adjacent bar stool. "Both teams in first place. One loss between them. Unbeaten at home. Sorry about your Red Sox, though."
"Thanks, Rex. I have to give it up to the Rays. Sometimes a young team comes of age before anyone expects it."
"Just like my Bills," Rex said, pulling himself away from the NFL stats. "Can you believe these guys? I never thought they'd come this fast. They're mature beyond their years, just like you keep repeating every week in your column."
"They're a good group of guys," I said. "I figured they were a year away. I liked Trent, but even I didn't know he'd be this good this soon. I mean, the guy has played 16 NFL games!"
"I can't believe people were debating Edwards vs. Losman just one year ago," Rex said. "You were right about that one, multi-media guy. You know what they say about the blind squirrel and the acorn."
"Boy, there's a lot of belief in that locker room right now," I said. "These guys think they can beat anyone."
"Why wouldn't they?" Rex said, his voice rising. "Nobody in the AFC scares me. You call that Chargers team elite? The Colts are a mess. They should be 1-5. The Pats are just another team without Brady. I'm not sold on the Steelers."
"Tennessee looks pretty good," said Russell the bartender, refilling our mugs.
"Yeah," Rex said, "they really beat the crap out of people and Fisher is a great coach. But I'd take my chances against Kerry Collins in a big game."
"There's a lot to like about this Bills team," I said. "They're confident and humble at the same time. I think Jauron sets the tone. The players have faith in their coaches. That's no small thing."
"Remember last year, when I told you it reminded me of '87?" Rex said. "This year feels like '88. I can see them winning 12 games and getting a first-round bye."
"Whoa, fella. Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. How many times have you told me you're weren't going to let our teams break your heart again?"
"Yeah, but this team is different," Rex said. "Maybe it goes back to Kevin Everett and all the injuries. It seems like the sports gods are paying us back for all the misery we've suffered over the years."
"Even I can't find much negative to say about them," I said. "But it's a long season. Those sports gods could be up there searching for new and creative ways to torture Buffalo fans."
"Well, you're not going to spoil it for me," Rex said. "These guys are restoring my faith in pro athletes. Look at Evans. He signs a $37 million contract and goes out and plays even harder. Those things make a difference on a team."
"Keep it up and you'll even convince yourself Schobel is a bargain," I answered.
"Don't go there," Rex said. "I'm in too good a mood. I've even forgiven Quinn again. I was as mad as anyone about Drury, but these Sabres are winning me over. I see parallels between the two teams, starting with Jauron and Lindy."
"Rex, really, they've played five games. That's like judging the Bills after the opener. I still question the Sabres' defense and team toughness."
"Well, I can see them beating out Montreal in the Northeast," Rex said. "Think about that. Both the Sabres and Bills winning their divisions. I know this sounds crazy. But both of our teams . . ."
"Rex, don't do this to yourself."
". . . could go all the way!"