"30 for 30" The Four Falls of Buffalo (TV Episode 2015) Poster

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The Four Falls
Michael_Elliott12 January 2016
30 for 30: Four Falls of Buffalo (2015)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

It should go without saying but here's yet another very good entry in the ESPN series, which has yet to deliver a bad episode. Is it possible that one of the greatest NFL teams ever is also one of the biggest losers in history? That is a debate that many people get into to as this film takes a look at the Buffalo Bills who with quarterback Jim Kelly went to four straight Super Bowls but ended up losing each of them and becoming a punchline for everyone in the country.

Kelly along with Marv Levy, Andre Reed, Steve Tasker, Don Beebe, Frank Weich, Bill Belichick, Troy Aikman and various others are interviewed as we take a look at those four magical seasons where the team always played their worst game in their last. The documentary does a very good job at showing how great the team was but of course it's unable to answer why they could never close to the door. The film also has a touching sequence dealing with kicker Scott Norwood who ended up missing a 47 yard field goal in that first Super Bowl. He gets a lot of interview time here and it's great to see him being honest about his feelings on that day even after all these years. If anything this film certainly shows how people should lose with grace.
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9/10
Time Gives Perspective
christopher-cole8327 December 2019
I was just a kid of 6 years old when the Bills went to their first Super Bowl. We weren't living in Western New York yet, but it wasn't much longer until we moved there and I began following the Bills. Though I hadn't been a life-long fan, those three other Super Bowls hurt.

Time has a way of flipping the narrative though. As a fan of a team in which their greatest accomplishment is losing in four consecutive Super Bowls, that's what the haters always point to. Yet this documentary brings to the forefront an accomplishment that not even the Cowboys of the 90s did, nor did the Patriots of the 2000s do: they played in four consecutive Super Bowls. Considering that the game of football is a violent train wreck that happens four weeks in the pre-season, 16 weeks over the regular season, and for the best teams 3-4 more weeks in the post season, that's a lot of physical, emotional, and psychological strain that sports medicine and science is just beginning to understand. Even the victors of those Super Bowls against the Bills have to admit that what they accomplished is not likely to ever be repeated. Though the Bills didn't win, the greatness of those teams is now better understood.

What I particularly liked about this documentary though is the character that shone through of Scott Norwood. When people think of "character" and "Bills Super Bowl appearances" the first, and sometimes only thought, that comes to mind is Don Beebe chasing down Leon Lett in a blowout loss, and rightly so. Yet Scott Norwood, who should have never been put in a position to have the game on his foot, addressed the media and answered every question about it. I'm sure in that moment only Bill Buckner could truly understand how he felt. Yet 24 years later he was still being asked about it. Given how the other three Super Bowls went, and how victory in that first one was a 47 yard kick away, he wasn't crushed. Of course it haunts him, but he didn't wallow in agony. I think that, as much as anything else (if not more) revealed that those Bills teams had big egos to be sure, but a lot of character too.

This documentary didn't need to answer the question of why didn't they win. It showed that those were very special years that likely will never be repeated ever.
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7/10
Guilt, Grudges and Growth in the Saga of Football's Ultimate Bridesmaids
drqshadow-reviews20 September 2018
Triumph and tragedy with the Buffalo Bills, four time conference champion and four time Super Bowl loser. Buffalo's story is one of perseverance, of epic highs and humbling lows, the forge of many a rich human character.

Starting quarterback Jim Kelly is a prime example, a hot-headed kid who joked at the city's expense before jilting them for a rival league after the draft. During his early years in the NFL he was a petulant prima donna, throwing teammates under the bus and running his mouth at press events. The adversity of four straight bitter pills changed him, though, steeled him, prepared him for what trials his life held in store after his career was through. Scott Norwood, whose errant kick spoiled the team's first championship try, lives every day with the guilt of that one defining misfire. He also wells up with pride in reliving the days immediately after the game, when the community taught him lessons in compassion and forgiveness.

These teams are rife with such stories, of morals wrenched from each player's deepest disappointment. It's a bittersweet tale - of course there's no Hollywood ending - but also a resonant lesson in humility, acceptance and personal growth.
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7/10
No big surprises!
MartinHafer15 February 2016
"The Four Falls of Buffalo" has a problem many other installments of "30 for 30" don't have--just about everyone knows that the Buffalo Bills lost four straight Super Bowls. And, considering the title, there really is no element of surprise. Still, as they tell the story, the narration is such that it sounds a bit like they're trying to keep the audience on the edge of their collective seats! No, no matter what they do, the film ends exactly where the audience expects it...with Buffalo losing yet again.

So am I saying this is a bad film? No. It's well crafted, reasonably interesting despite being anticlimactic and there certainly worse ways to spend about 90 minutes of your life. And, on the positive side, the show doesn't completely whitewash the players...I do remember the season just before the Bills went to the first Super Bowl--and I remember that Jim Kelly was a bit of a jerk at that time (and the show acknowledges that several of the stars were NOT acting like team players).
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