Connor’s Corner

Roger Goodell and the National Football League have had a tough couple of weeks in the spotlight, but there have been a few positive NFL related stories coming from an unlikely source.

Prominent players have littered headlines with drug use, domestic violence and scandal. It seems like every time you turn on ESPN, another star athlete is at odds with the law or the NFL’s drug policy.

Adrian Peterson, Josh Gordon, Ray Rice, Aldon Smith and Wes Welker have all proved that they can change a game on the field, and now they’ll show how valuable they were to their team – when they’re watching from home or holding a clip board on the sideline.

It seems like it’s just a matter of time before NFL poster children Russell Wilson or Peyton Manning are photographed and arraigned for inciting a riot.

The only uplifting news in football is coming from place that hasn’t tasted the postseason in 14 years – Buffalo, N.Y.

Buffalo Bills Hall-of-Fame quarterback Jim Kelly recently said he was cancer free after two long battles with squamous-cell carcinoma. The Buffalo community rallied around Kelly’s toughness and positive outlook throughout his fight.

It was only fitting that the greatest Bills quarterback, Kelly, welcomed the late Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. to the wall of fame before Sunday’s contest against the Miami Dolphins. Wilson passed away on March 25 of natural causes.

Kelly preached about how important Buffalo’s only owner was to the community. Wilson allowed a small city filled with blue collar workers to invest in something greater than themselves.

The Bills president and chief executive officer, Russ Brandon, echoed Kelly’s sentiment.

“I’ve been here a long time and I never felt the building like that,” Brandon said. “The shaking, the crowd, the vibe.

“It was unbelievable.”

Wilson loved his team, its players and the die-hard fans that filled War Memorial (the Rockpile), Rich and Ralph Wilson stadiums.

The most important aspect of carrying on Wilson’s legacy was keeping the Bills in Western New York, and the pending sale of ownership to Kim and Terry Pegula, the Buffalo Sabres owners, would accomplish that.

Pegula has already started to transform the city of Buffalo with the construction of the HarborCenter, a 20-story hockey complex located on the Webster Block downtown.  The HarborCenter will change developmental hockey programs in New York, and make Buffalo a premiere hockey location.

Pegula is committed to bettering Buffalo, and its residents are overjoyed to be living in “Pegulaville.” It has been reported that Pegula would like to build a football stadium in downtown Buffalo.

After the remembrance of Wilson, Kelly being cancer free and Pegula keeping the Bills in Buffalo, Buffalonians were left thinking, could things get any better?

On cue, the Buffalo Bills circled the wagons to start the season 2-0. I’m not claiming the Bills are going win the Super Bowl or even the division, but an AFC wild card position doesn’t seem that far out of reach.

Everything seems to be coming together in Buffalo, and it’s a great time to bleed blue and red.

CONNOR SONDEL

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