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CATS' ANNIVERSARY COINCIDES WITH BILLS' TO EXPERIMENT

By JOHN WILLIAMS

The Buffalo Bills bring cap in hand tonight looking for a handout in Toronto for the second straight year. And all this as part of a five-year experiment to boost revenue while determining the feasibility of an NFL team in Toronto on a full-time or occasional basis.

A gauge to determine if the 20,000 or so fans from Southern Ontario who frequent the Ralph represent an even more rabid fan base in the GTA.

But based on fan indifference last year against Miami

- which was spawned by smug marketing and outrageous ticket prices

- which created an ambience at the Rogers Centre that resembled the quiet dim of the local library

- with what I'm sure will be the same tonight against the Jets

- CFL fans across the country may relax in the realization the Bills' TO experiment has been an adventure in futility based on gross miscalculation.

It doesn't help matters that the Bills' decade of futility in the New Millennium resembles the Argos' 18 playoff misses in 29 seasons between 1953 and 1981. And yes, the Tiger Cats set a standard of futility the last 10 years never witnessed before in the club's glorious, 60-year reign since 1950.

But if this year's 9-9 team is any indication, I'll take the Cats' future anytime over their NFL counterparts from WNY.

And speaking of our beloved TIGER CATS - it was 37 years ago today the Cats defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders 13-10 at IWS to win the 1972 Grey Cup. How painfully ironic that the 0-4 Super Bowl Bills bring their travelling circus to Toronto on one of the greatest anniversaries in CFL history.

Ian Sunter's game winner in 72 and Scott Norwood's wide-right in 91 places both kickers forever in football folklore but for all the wrong reasons.

Sandwiched in between are the Cats' year of redemption in 1986 and their standard of excellence in 1989 - as both games preceded Norwood's miss followed by another three flops on the NFL's grandest stage.

Oh yes, the Cats of the mid-1990s certainly resembled the present-day Bills but the Danny McManus/Darren Flutie championship era at the turn of the century certainly redeemed the Black and Gold.

And a 9-9 team in 2009 has provided the foundation to eventually erase the 15/57 mark of recent memory.

What a wonderful bookend that today represents to the last 37 years of Steeltown football

- while the Bills' TO invasion tonight simply serves as a microcosm when looking back on their many years of failure since that glorious Sunday afternoon on December 3rd, 1972.

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