The Ouija Said...

According to all “in the know,” it would take a miracle for the Buffalo Bills to get to the play-offs.

Once upon a time a long, long, long time ago in the mid-sixties, I made the acquaintance of a Ouija board. My husband played football for the Buffalo Bills, and we wives had a night out every Tuesday to play bridge or whatever we decided might be fun.

On one particular November night in 1966, the talk at our get-together was all about the Bill’s chances for the AFL championship playoffs. There were two teams left: the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Jets. If the Miami Dolphins lost to the San Diego Chargers the next weekend, and the Bills pulled off the near-impossible task of beating both the Chiefs and the Jets on the next two Sundays, then the Bills would play the Chiefs for the championship. We had it all figured out, of course, because being in the play-offs meant extra bonus money. The players on the losing team would each receive $2,500 while the winning players would get $10,000 for that one game. Naturally, we already had ideas of how to spend the extra income dancing in our heads. We looked forward to the next games. According to all “in the know,” it would take a miracle for the Buffalo Bills to get to the play-offs.

Anyway, on this November evening someone suggested we consult a Ouija board to see what the future had in store for the Bills. No one admitted to believing what the board might tell us, but we decided to give it a try.

Joanne Kemp, wife of quarterback Jack Kemp, pulled out a Ouija board. She and Carole Schmidt, wife of tackle Bob Schmidt, went about the business of asking the board if the Chargers would defeat Miami on the next Sunday. They place their hands lightly on the oracle.

The room was silent as we all focused on the board. Suddenly, the oracle began to move toward the word NO, but at the last minute, swayed away from NO and came to rest over the YES. I was skeptical of the oracle thing, so I volunteered to take Joanne’s place on the next question.

The next question was, “Will Buffalo defeat the Chiefs?” The oracle came to rest once again over the YES. What astonished me was that neither of us had moved that oracle thing ourselves. I was sure of it. It really did move on its own!

“Oujia, will Buffalo defeat the Jets?”

The oracle moved toward NO, hesitated, and seemed to change its mind. It eked toward YES. Again, it stopped. The thing moved like a starved dog to a sirloin steak to stand smack-dab over the number three.

Rejoicing reverberated throughout the Kemp house. We cheered, laughed, and hugged one another. Buffalo was going to be in the playoffs against insurmountable odds. We would beat Kansas City on Sunday and the Buffalo Bills would defeat the Jets by three points. Life was good…at least that’s what the Ouija said.

The next morning at breakfast, I told my husband what the Ouija board had foretold. “That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard of,” he said louder than I thought was necessary. If that’s all you can find to do at your little hen parties, all you wives need to stay home and take care of your children.” He left the kitchen muttering something about stupid women, Ouija boards, and trashy romance novels.

All us wives sat together in the same section every home game, and as we sat through the Bills-Chiefs game on Sunday, we laughed and joked about how we knew we were going to win…the Ouija said!

At half time the Bills trailed by thirteen points, but we weren’t concerned. We knew what the outcome would be. So, when Buffalo played flawless ball in the second half, held their opponents scoreless, and scored three touchdowns, the Bills won by a score of 21-13 just like the Ouija said.

That night we had the usual after-game team and family party at the Ramada Inn. The guys watched Miami defeat the Chargers on the television in the conference hall. A few of them became believers, but most still ridiculed their silly little wives. Neither my husband nor I discussed the Ouija board.

The next Saturday was our last regular season game, but it was the most important one of the year. The Bills played like a bunch of “little Neds in their First Readers.”* Although we seemed to do very little right, and New York did very little wrong, the 10-7 score did not reflect it. We still had a chance with a minute, forty left in the game because we had possession of the ball. It only takes one long pass. Unfortunately, with a minute left, our one long pass was intercepted. All New York had to do was snap the ball four times and fall on it to eat up the remaining time. They would win the game.

The Bills’ bench showed their despondency in their bowed, sweaty heads. The offense showed their frustration by throwing their helmets on the ground and slamming onto the bench like pouty little boys when they left the field. They had all given up.

“Broadway” Joe Namath, the playboy quarterback of the New York Jets who always played in high-topped white shoes, took the snapped ball and handed off to one of his backs who picked up two yards before going down. Forty-seven seconds were left when Namath took the next snap on second down and dropped back like he was going to pass. But he didn’t, of course. He went to his knees. With ten seconds left, Namath again took the snap and faded back as if to pass. Just as I expected him to hit the ground once again, he passed the ball thirty-five yards down field to a Jet receiver. The thing was, however, Hagood Clarke, the Buffalo safety from Florida, stepped in front of the intended receiver and intercepted the ball with six seconds on the clock.

Hagood hesitated briefly, stunned that he had possession of the ball. Then, he recovered his senses and began to race down the field picking up blockers along the way. He was still on his feet when the final buzzer sounded. The play in progress when the final whistle blows must be completed before the game is officially over. This game was still not over!

As Hagood crossed the Jets’ thirty-yard line, several Buffalo players on the sidelines turned to look at the wives’ section. By the time he crossed the twenty and was still on his feet, half the Buffalo bench was looking at our section in stunned disbelief. As Hagood entered the end zone to score his unbelievable touchdown, few Buffalo players were paying him any attention. The entire team stood facing us with big, sheepish grins on their faces. My husband looked especially sick and chagrined. It seemed that Buffalo had just defeated the mighty Jets by three points….just like the Ouija had said.

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