As I traveled to Buffalo with my family to watch Doug Flutie lead the Bills to victory over the Patriots, I thought back to the first time I saw Flutie play.
It was 1979 and Flutie's Natick High Redmen were playing the Norwood Mustangs for the prestigious Bay State League title. To me, the game was more of a personal contest between Flutie, the best player in Massachusetts, and my brother Eddie, one of the best players in our family.
Ed, who now lives in Clarence, was a Norwood defensive end in the mold of Bruce Smith, only a lot smaller and a lot slower.
The key moment came late in the game when Flutie floated back in the pocket for a Hail Mary pass designed to deny Norwood its place as league champion. Ed came blitzing in around the corner with felonious assault in his eyes. Just as Ed was about to crush Flutie with a sack, I thought, "My brother is going to be a hero."
But then the pint-sized passer ducked. Ed went flying over Flutie's back. The quarterback stood up and threw a long bomb to an open receiver. I thought, "My brother is going to be the goat."
The pass, however, fell harmlessly to the ground. Norwood won the game and the title. I thought "My brother was a non-factor," the cruelest cut of all.
Later in life Flutie would perfect his last-second passing magic for Boston College against the University of Miami. But on this day in 1979, Flutie's magic held no power over Norwood and my brother Ed.