T.O. in Buffalo elicits wows

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Marv Levy had just stepped off a plane in Chicago when a friend informed him that Terrell Owens had signed with the Buffalo Bills.

Marv Levy had just stepped off a plane in Chicago when a friend informed him that Terrell Owens had signed with the Buffalo Bills.

The Hall of Fame coach’s first reaction was wondering if the person picking him up at the airport required a breathalyzer.

“I was surprised, naturally, like everybody else,” the former Bills coach and general manager said by phone Sunday. “I verified it a little bit later that it was true and that my friend hadn’t been drinking.”

T.O. in Buffalo certainly takes some getting used to. The Bills aren’t the NFL’s sexiest destination, and they’ve traditionally operated on a low-profile, small-market scale, building mostly with draft picks and midrange free agents.

“Wow,” said Bills Hall-of-Fame running back Thurman Thomas. “I said it at the end of last year that the Bills have to make a big splash. This is a bigger splash than I thought the Bills organization would ever make.”

Something this big hasn’t splashed in Buffalo since they started construction on the Erie Canal in the 1800s. And move aside chicken wings, Owens might be on the short end of his career in entering his 15th NFL season, but he can still draw attention that’s as hot as an Anchor Bar drumstick.

Though Buffalo has been home to numerous high-profile athletes, including Thomas, Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith, O.J. Simpson and hockey’s Dominik Hasek and Gilbert Perreault, all of them were either developed in Buffalo or arrived early in their careers.

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