January 8, 2000: the last time the Buffalo Bills participated in a National Football League postseason game. It’s the longest active drought of North America’s four major sports, ahead of the Seattle Mariners (16), the Minnesota Timberwolves (13) and the Carolina Hurricanes (eight). Coming into Sunday’s game against the 6-9 Miami Dolphins, the Bills had a chance to get the proverbial monkey off of their back and earn an AFC wild-card berth for the first time since that heartbreaking loss to the Tennessee Titans upwards of two decades ago – a game which is now deemed The Music City Miracle.
And with a 22-16 win against the Dolphins – and a little help from the Cincinnati Bengals – the Bills ended an almost 18 year drought, no longer stuck saying, “there’s always next year, right?”
That’s something Bills fans have been saying for far too long, forced to hold their hope in poor coaching, mediocre performance and improbable late season collapses. Things have been so bad in Buffalo that the Bills hadn’t had an opportunity like this season – where the team came into Week 17 still in playoff contention – since the 2004 campaign, when Drew Bledsoe, Willis McGahee and company suffered a 27-23 loss, at home, to the Pittsburgh Steelers – a game the Bills led 17-16 going into the fourth quarter. Things have certainly changed since the last time the Bills earned a postseason berth and we wanted to look back to the last time Buffalo had meaningful football during the second weekend in January.
- Tyrod Taylor, the current quarterback for the Bills, was 10-years-old, his running back, Lesean McCoy was 11-years-old and his coach, Sean McDermott, was a 25-year-old scout for the Philadelphia Eagles where he’d later become the defensive coordinator under Andy Reid.
- FOX’s animated series, Family Guy, was in its first season, along with NBC’s Law and Order: SVU and HBO’s The Sopranos, while the world still didn’t know Survivor, which CBS would introduce a little later, in the summer.
- Song such as …Baby One More Time by Britney Spears, Mambo No. 5 by Lou Bega, Blue (Dab Ba Dee) by Eiffel 65 and I Want It That Way by the Backstreet Boys dominated the Billboard Top 100 in the fall of 1999. But that year’s biggest hit: Believe by Cher.
- Buffalo’s other professional team, the Sabres, still donned the black and red sweaters and were fresh off a loss in the National Hockey League’s 1999 Stanley Cup Final, due to a controversial goal surrounding the Dallas Stars’ Brett Hull and Sabres goaltender Dominik Hasek.
- New England quarterback Tom Brady was in his senior year at Michigan, winning a thrilling 35-34 overtime win against Alabama in the Orange Bowl, while his current coach, Bill Belichick, was in the midst of a mess in New York, where he had taken the coaching position with the Jets.
- A gallon of gas cost between $1.14 and $1.48 across the United States.
- Fight Club, starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, along with American Beauty starring Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening and The Green Mile starring Tom Hanks are all released.
- Earlier, in the summer, off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, a plane piloted by John F. Kennedy Jr. crashed, killing him, his wife, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, and her sister, Lauren Bessette.
- Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was released for the Playstation and Nintendo 64 consoles.
- Bill Clinton was the president of the United States, serving out the remainder of his second term, while Donald Trump announces in October his plans to run for president in the 2000 election. It would be almost another four years before Trump hosted The Apprentice on NBC.