NASHVILLE, Tenn. – To many in the Oilers/Titans organization, “The Comeback” game remains a painful memory.
It’s remembered differently for Titans punter Brett Kern – it was his first NFL game, and he was a Bills fan.
“I’ll never forget it,” said Kern, who grew in Grand Island, New York, just outside Buffalo. “Just being able to experience my first NFL game and see some of my favorite players growing up. I probably didn’t understand the magnitude of the game until I got older, and then when you’re in the NFL you realize how crazy of a comeback it was. It was a really cool experience.”
Need a refresher? The Bills trailed the Oilers 35-3 in the second half of a Jan. 3, 1993 Wild Card playoff game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Then, quarterback Frank Reich guided the Bills to the largest comeback in NFL history. The Bills won the game 41-38 in overtime.
Kern was 6, about to turn 7, at the time.
“I sat up top,” Kern said, “and by the end we went down to the lower bowl because everybody left.”
Kern grew up a huge Bills fans.
In fact, he dressed up as Bills quarterback Jim Kelly for Halloween three years in a row.
“I had the oversized pants, jersey, helmet, and a commemorative Buffalo Bills football,” Kern said. “I still remember running around my grandparents’ house, running around the living room saying I was Jim Kelly.”
On Sunday, Kern will return to Buffalo when the Titans face the Bills at what’s now New Era Field. Back in high school, Kern played two state championship games on the same field.
As a Titan, he’s played in Buffalo twice. He’s not exactly expecting a warm reception.
“I think the Bills Mafia – they don’t really care if you are from the area or not. You’re on the opposing team so they don’t like you,” Kern said with a smile. “I know I’ll have some friends and family there to support me. But those might be the only 20 people in the family who want me to do well.
“But it’s always cool to go back. Being able to go back and fulfill a lifetime dream of playing in the NFL, and just kind of remembering where it all started for me as far as the passion I had and the dedication that I was willing to make to try to get to the league.”