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Reporters flocked to his locker. The TV cameras went three rows deep. Jordan Poyer is suddenly living the life of an NFL superstar. Three weeks ago, that was unimaginable. At that time, Poyer was just another new face in a completely rebuilt Buffalo Bills secondary. When he said, “I don’t know if any of you knew who any of us were,” in front of all those TV cam…

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Brandon Beane's parents knew it was pointless to say goodbye before the Buffalo Bills' charter buses pulled away from Bank of America Stadium. Bob and Cindy Beane rose glumly from their seats, the season tickets they've had for 18 years in Section 340, while a song they've always relished hearing, "Sweet Caroline," played Panthers fans out the ais…

Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane were given funzo questionnaires for the Buffalo Bills' 2017 media guide. Favorite movie, best concert attended, biggest pet peeve, last book read and so forth. The Q&A's were conducted separately, but they produced a striking parallel. In response to "biggest obstacle overcome," they gave the same answer. "Breaking into the NFL…

Not all of the interviews and research about Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott made it into my feature about him. Here are my favorite surplus items from "the process." Bills crew, assemble Through a long interview in June at the end of Bills minicamp, McDermott seemed to get most animated when I asked him what it was like, after years of imagining about it, what…

Sean McDermott was a coaching prospect, strolling the Philadelphia Eagles' practice facility with two wise assistants who owned whistles older than he was. He walked alongside defensive coordinator Jim Johnson and offensive coordinator Rod Dowhower, seven decades of NFL and college coaching experience between them. McDermott, known for continuously sopping every ounc…

LAS VEGAS – Whether or not you bought into the NCAA's spook stories that Jerry Tarkanian was shady, it's a fact the legendary basketball coach relied on one particular trick to keep his UNLV recruits in the dark. The school was called Tumbleweed Tech back then. It was the early 1970s, and the glitzy Runnin' Rebels were barely a glimmer in Tarkanian's eye. So to lur…

WILLIAMS, Ariz. – Mary Lois Nittmo’s closest confidants were worried. She was on an interstate quest to locate the ex-husband who abandoned their four little children 12 years ago. One friend dreaded the journey would be a waste of time, that Mary Lois would drive 30 hours round trip without making contact. Another was afraid that she would find him, and the enco…

In a blink, detailed storylines can project through the mind. We might experience a lifetime in our dreams although asleep just 30 minutes. They say when you're about to die, your entire life flashes before your eyes. An NFL punt takes about two seconds from the ball being snapped until it's kicked. That's how long it took Walt Patulski to visualize the career he …

Natalie Perez-Smith didn't know what to make of the digital message she saw on an Elmwood Avenue parking meter. "dEAd." The 20-year Buffalo cop never had seen that before. So she snapped a picture to dispute the possible ticket for parking at a conked out meter. Then Perez-Smith headed into the restaurant for a spirited chat about how inoperable the NFL looks these d…

On the surface, Colin Kaepernick's protest is startling and indecent. When the national anthem is performed before San Francisco 49ers games, Kaepernick will not stand. He takes a knee, a gesture that has generated headlines and torn at the fabric of American patriotism. He's considered by many a thankless American millionaire. His jerseys have been immolated. But…

LOS ANGELES -- Rita Vennari's corner office provides a striking panorama, Century City's skyline against a Pacific Ocean backdrop to the west and the Hollywood Hills to the south. Her office is where L.A. dreams may come true. SBV Talent represents actors for commercials and voiceovers. The work can be lucrative, but in many cases her agency offers a chance to find t…

Richie Incognito is a vulgar offensive lineman. Of his five college and pro football teams, the Buffalo Bills are the only one that didn’t chase him away. Tom Brady’s life is polished to a luster. He’s the face of the almighty New England Patriots, an NFL deity. While in NFL exile, Incognito vented by taking a baseball bat to his $300,000 Ferrari FF hatchback. …

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Sammy Watkins’ parents stood in the middle of Barker Boulevard and bickered the way a couple might quibble whether that’s the same actress from that thing they saw on TV that one time. “Right here is where Willie Fletcher was shot and murdered,” Nicole McMiller said, pointing to a spot near a speed bump. “Nah,” Mike McMiller said, “…

NAPA, Calif. – Khalil Mack wanted nothing to do with this story. He refused to be interviewed for it. Sandy Mack, his father, at first liked the idea of meeting me down in Fort Pierce, Fla., where Khalil is from. Then Sandy stopped returning text messages and voicemails. Khalil Mack gave the impression he’d rather shower with asbestos bodywash and stir three t…