Back when Wade Phillips was coaching the Dallas Cowboys in the 2007 season, he was preparing to bring his team to Ralph Wilson Stadium to face the Buffalo Bills.
As is part of the weekly NFL ritual, Western New York reporters speak with the opposing team's coach on a conference call a few days before the game.
When that call clicked on, Phillips very clearly said "keep them waiting," – knowing that reporters on the other end could hear it loud and clear. It was his way of joking with some old acquaintances.
Phillips has always had a dry sense of humor. It's one of the reasons the former Bills' coach was so enjoyable to cover, and part of the reason why it's so easy to feel good for the current Denver Broncos' defensive coordinator, who will participate in Super Bowl 50.
Phillips' defense is the main reason the Broncos have gotten into the Big Game. Denver held Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Co. to just 18 points in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, and led the NFL during the regular season in yards allowed per game (281.3).
Phillips isn't the only member of the Broncos' coaching staff with ties to the Bills. Defensive line coach Bill Kollar was with Buffalo in the same role from 2006-08, while assistant defensive backs coach Samson Brown had the same role from 2013- 14 on the staff of former Bills coach Doug Marrone. Outside linebackers coach Fred Pagac also was with the Bills in 2014 as a linebackers coach.
On the offensive side, running backs coach Eric Studesville was with the Bills from 2004-09 in the same role, while wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert held the same position in Buffalo from 2004-09.
For Carolina, special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven has a long history with the Bills, having served two stints in the same role, from 1987-99 and again from 2010-12.
Just one player on either side has ties to the Bills: Carolina defensive tackle Dwan Edwards played in Buffalo from 2010-12. Edwards had one tackle and one quarterback hit on 25 defensive snaps (39 percent) in Carolina's 49-15 victory over Arizona in the NFC Championship Game.
In the AFC title game, the losing New England Patriots had three players with ties to either Western New York or the Bills. Amherst native Rob Gronkowski had eight catches for 144 yards and a touchdown, almost carrying the Patriots to the tying points late in the fourth quarter. Former Bills tight end Scott Chandler played nine offensive snaps (11 percent) for New England, but was targeted for a pass, while ex-Bills defensive lineman Alan Branch had a sack in playing 35 defensive snaps (51 percent).