Friday, November 28, 2008

Is their offence called the Beebe gun?

Don Beebe, who was part of all four Buffalo Bills Super Bowl losses in the early '90s, might finally win the big one.

Beebe is coaching the Aurora Christian Eagles in the Illinois 4A state championship game. As you know, Beebe made that famous play in the '93 Super Bowl, the Bills' third Super Bowl loss. It was 52-17 in the fourth quarter when Beebe chased down Leon Lett and knocked the ball out of his hand at the one-yard line to deny the the big Dallas Cowboys d-lineman a touchdown (and screw over everyone who had the "9-7" square in a Super Bowl final score pool). Now, why is this kismet?

Well, in the days afterward, every high school boy in North America who was taking gym that semester probably got the Don Beebe speech. The phys-ed teacher, God love her or him, would hold up Don Beebe's play on Leon Lett -- which ESPN, in its wisdom, so-called, has deemed the No. 1 sports blunder in history -- as an example of why you always hustle, never give up, and keep playing no matter what it says on the scoreboard. is perfectly kismet, then, that having been used as a pep-talk prop by so many moulders of young bodies and minds, that former Buffalo Bill Don Beebe is now coaching high school football.

Reading about Don Beebe is a bit of a reminder of what the NFL will lose when the Bills are liberated from Buffalo once and for all and put in Toronto (although at the rate those tickets aren't selling for the Dec. 7 game, don't be so sure). At the high school level, as our estimable commenter Dennis Prouse noted in a post from a couple months ago back about another high school football team named the Eagles, it really is about the game itself.

That vibe is all but gone from the NFL, except in Green Bay and Buffalo, where the lowest ticket prices in the NFL, lake-effect weather and the, uh, vagaries of the Western New York economy contributes to the sense that it's all about the game.

The Bills, at least looking back from the remove of 15 years, were always about those players whom the real fan could appreciate. They had talent and All-Pros, for sure, but Beebe was one of a number of lunch-bucket guys who was just a football player, not a physical freak, although he was pretty damn fast for a Caucasian. (Just imagine the replica jersey sales if he had ended up with the New England Patriots, oh, about 12-15 years later.)

There was Beebe from Chadron State, wherever that is, the free safety Mark Kelso with his Gazoo helmet was from William & Mary, and the special teams dynamo Steve Tasker. Even Andre Reed, the great receiver, came from a Division 2 school. Thurman Thomas was a second-round draft choice. The Bills, under Bill Polian, always found hidden gems. That's football.

True, Marv Levy was David Letterman Top 1o list fodder after four Super Bowl losses. Who can forget "Top Ten Things Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy said at halftime"? ("Number six -- 'Hey, Kelly. Leave some champagne for everyone else!' ")

Levy, though, was whip-smart. You knew he was because he'd coached in the CFL in the days before teams had 6-8 assistant coaches, so you had to know the fundamentals of every position. He had coached special teams. The Bills' epic comeback against the Houston Oilers in January 1993 was pure Marv, the professor masterminding it all, but giving the class the chalk. Another coach might have pulled that off, coming back from 32 points down with the starting quarterback and running back each out of the game, but Marv actually did.

Seriously, that short kickoff that Bills recover at the 1:50 mark of the clip below, that's football. Brains and brass balls. It's not Joe Buck talking about the Jonas Brothers' halftime performance.

That is what the NFL is becoming, and that is the teat the Toronto interests want to suckle at as they embark on the Long Transition with the Bills. Well, they're not going to find football no matter how much he or she puts on the expense account for the privilege to to sit indoors at Rogers Centre for the Dolphins-Bills game on Dec. 7.

You want football, from afar it's an ex-Bill coaching together with one of his brothers at a high school in Illinois. That sounds all right.

Oh, brother: Beebes have ACS on roll (Kane County Chronicle)

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