As you might imagine, it was a joy interviewing all those former Bills for Sunday's retrospective on Super Bowl XXV. They seemed to take as much pleasure in telling the stories as I did in hearing them.
Many of the interviews lasted an hour or more. By the end, we'd be reminiscing like old high school buddies. Come Monday, I felt the way I do after an especially eventful Bills game, where you need one more day to gather all the fascinating notes and quotes that got left behind.
Steve Tasker had a special reason to remember that Super Bowl. His son, Luke, the third of his five children, was born two days before the AFC title game against the Raiders. Luke, who starred at St. Francis, was a sophomore wide receiver at Cornell this past season.
"He was due on Super Bowl Sunday," Tasker recalled. "I told my wife, Sarah, 'If we win this game and leave for Tampa on Monday, I won't be here for the baby.' We induced on Friday. On Thursday the next week, they were on the family charter to the game. They went on live with Regis and Kathy Lee.
"After the game, Sarah and the kids went to Hawaii [for the Pro Bowl] with me," Tasker said. "We had Luke baptized there by my father, who was a minister."
Kenneth Davis also has a strong family tie to that Super Bowl. He literally gave his mother the shirt off his back.
"Every time I came out of a Super Bowl, I gave my uniform to my mom," Davis said. "She would always take it away with her. To this day, I never washed that uniform. I have the socks, jersey, everything I wore that night. I don't know if anybody else has theirs. I have mine from every Super Bowl. I never washed them. I kept them all."
Davis coached high school football in Dallas for years. Once, before a district championship game, he brought one of his Super Bowl jerseys to show his team. It was the only district title he ever won.
Jeff Wright watches the Bills and felt they made strides this year. He has tickets for this weekend's Super Bowl in Dallas. He's going with his fiancee, Jennifer Wilson, whose family has owned a ranch in Tucson since 1888. Wright has worked on the ranch for six years, roping 500-pound steers and the like.
"Her dad's name is Ralph Wilson," Wright said. "I actually have poems and letters from Buffalo Bill Cody. He actually stayed on the ranch here. The family has coins of his. Pretty ironic, isn't it?"
Adam Lingner still wonders if his snap was a hair off on Scott Norwood's field goal. Frank Reich didn't turn the laces, so maybe the snap was off. He took pride in his snaps, partly because he didn't want to face Darryl Talley.
"If my snap was six inches off, Darryl would be waiting when I ran off the field," Lingner said. " 'You've got to get that done.' I'm like, 'Darryl, I know, I know.' He was like the general. If I was ever at war, I'd want him in my foxhole.
"One year, deep in the playoffs, some guys were in the back of the plane, playing cards. Darryl was there. I walked back and said, 'Guys, thanks for taking me along for the ride. I'm the long snapper. I'm just glad to be part of it.' Darryl said, 'Shut your hole. If you don't do your job, we don't win.' "
What a bunch of characters there were on those teams. Maybe they were an inspiration for Ray Bentley and Marv Levy. The linebacker and the coach have written novels with a Super Bowl theme.
"There is a publisher, not tremendously well-known, who says they'd like to publish it," Levy said. "The protagonist is a sportswriter."
Levy laughed. I did, too, and asked if his sportswriter was kinder than a certain scribe in Buffalo.
"I will say he's likable," Levy said. "The general theme is he undercovers evidence the home team has cheated to win the Super Bowl. He's very torn, for very understandable reasons."