I’ve been to Ralph Wilson Stadium many times, including during its earliest days as Rich Stadium. I can’t recall windier conditions than today.
With gusts ranging from 40-60 mph, it is a challenging day to walk, let alone play a football game (or watch it from the stands), but the Patriots and Bills are still scheduled to kickoff at 1 p.m. ET.
I thought things were bad during the drive to the stadium, when I found myself gripping the steering wheel with two hands to keep the car on the road. Then there were the obstacles I had to avoid on the way, including the hood of a small vehicle and a wood palette. In other places along the roadways, there were trees and branches, metal posts from signs, and even a port-a-potty (which, I trust, motorists did their very best to avoid).
Things were even worse at the stadium. I found panels from the roof of the Bills’ field house blown off. Both goalposts were tilting to the right, prompting Hank Gola of the New York Daily News to stop by my seat and say, “If the goalpost was like this in Tampa, the Bills would have won Super Bowl XXV.”
Stadium workers used rope to straighten them. A couple of the Bills cheerleaders were literally blown over during a very brief rehearsal of a Christmas routine. John Murphy, the play-by-play voice on the Bills Radio Network, had his glasses blown off just before appearing on NFL Network’s “GameDay Morning.” He lost a lens and needed his wife, Mary, to drive over with his contacts so he could see what he would be announcing.
After watching Bills kicker Rian Lindell have one warm-up field-goal attempt travel about 10 yards before seemingly hitting a wall and falling to the ground, I expect this game will resemble a few other wind-blown affairs I witnessed in Orchard Park, N.Y., through the years. During one, then-Cardinals punter Rich Camarillo had an attempt blow backward over his head. During another, future Hall of Famer Joe Namath completed only 2 of 18 passes for 33 yards, while throwing three interceptions.
– Vic Carucci is reporting from Buffalo