Falls brothers can relate to special bond between Bills and Bengals

Jan. 22—The last time Glenn and Joe Goodberry got together to watch the Buffalo Bills play the Cincinnati Bengals, the unthinkable happened.

On Jan. 2, the brothers from Niagara Falls were in the stands at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati when Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest roughly nine minutes into the game.

What started as another memorable football outing for Glenn — a diehard Bills fan — and Joe — a lifelong Bengals fan — became one of the most memorable sporting events of their lives for reasons that weren't in any way related to x's and o's.

"The vibe outside the stadium was awesome," Joe recalled. "The fans of both teams were hanging out together. It was a really different atmosphere."

"It was really fun and then that happened with Damar Hamlin and everything went silent," he added. "I've never seen anything like that."

Glenn described it as a "surreal" moment for Bills and Bengals fans alike.

"You don't know what's going on," he said. "You don't know if that player is dead or alive. It was so quiet in there. The only thing you could hear was the ambulance leaving the stadium. All you could hear was the sirens."

Hamlin has since recovered and was released from Buffalo General Medical Center on Jan. 11, nine days after medical personnel gave him CPR on the field before transferring him to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for additional evaluation and treatment.

The game was suspended and later cancelled by the NFL.

For Glenn, the Bills fan, one of the things he'll remember most about the experience is the kindness Bengals' fans showed him and other fans from Western New York that day.

"On the way out, I had people telling me they were praying for us," he said. "it was really nice. The city of Cincinnati was really very loving."

While some might think the matchup would make for a rough day for the Goodberry brothers, both Glenn and Joe say they've always managed to keep their rooting interests in perspective. They expect Sunday will be no exception.

"People ask me sometimes 'do you bet on the games' or 'are you always ribbing on each other?,'" Joe said. "W'eve never had a competitive rivalry. As we got older, I think it was because we had to grow up together and look out for each other, we became not just brothers but best friends in a lot of ways. We don't see it as a situation where he is going to talk down to me or my team and I'm not going to do that to him."

When the Bills lost in the playoffs last year during the now infamous "13-seconds" game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Glenn and his wife and family started rooting for the Bengals who advanced to the Super Bowl where they lost to the Los Angeles Rams, 23-20.

"My family went to my brothers' house and we were wearing Bengals gear for him," Glenn said. "We do root for each other as long as it's not a conflict of interest in that exact moment."

Of late, the Bills and Bengals and the cities of Buffalo and Cincinnati have had some unique bonding experiences, with the Hamlin incident being the latest example.

At the end of the 2017 regular season, former Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton hit wide receiver Tyler Boyd on an improbable 49-yard touchdown pass on a 4th and 12 play to beat the Baltimore Ravens. The win helped the Bills secure a playoff spot, ending Buffalo's 17-year postseason drought.

Bills Mafia responded in kind, donating more than $440,000 to Dalton's charitable foundation. The bulk of the donations came in $17 increments, a nod to Dalton's jersey No. 17.

Another commonality: Both teams have made trips to multiple Super Bowls but have yet to win one.

The Bills are well-known for their four-straight Super Bowl losses from 1990 through 1993.

In addition to last year's Super Bowl defeat, the Bengals reached the Big Game twice in the 1980s, losing both times to the San Francisco 49ers.

As Glenn noted, the Bengals beat the Bills during the playoffs during both of their Super Bowl runs in the 1980s.

Joe, who does NFL draft analysis and player evaluation work for The Athletic and other football media outlets, said he has always felt that the two franchises had something of a "brotherhood" even before Dalton's TD pass or the Hamlin incident.

He noted that the franchises for both fan bases spent a lot of years looking forward to the next year's draft because they weren't good enough to make the playoffs or make a deep run into the postseason.

That is, of course, until the Bills drafted quarterback Josh Allen with the seventh pick in the 2017 NFL draft and the Bengals made quarterback Joe Burrow the first overall selection in 2020.

"This last rebuild for both teams they both hit at the quarterback pretty much at the same time," Joe said.

So now the stage is set for either Allen or Burrow to lead their team to the next round of the playoffs.

Glenn bought tickets to this Sunday's contest at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park so the Goodberry brothers, their wives and some friends will all be in attendance.

Glenn, a self-proclaimed "lifelong Bills sufferer," said he's "cautiously optimistic" about the Bills chances.

"You're in the divisional round of the playoffs, which is the final four of the AFC," he said. 'Typically, these teams have really earned the right to be here. The Bengals are the defending AFC champs and Joe Burrow has really blossomed."

Joe, who said he became a Bengals fan when he was a kid in part because he liked the team's tiger-striped helmets and uniforms, also likes his squad's chances although he admits he's concerned about a recent string of injuries that hit three of the Bengals five offensive linemen.

"If that wasn't happening, I'd feel a lot better about the game," Joe said.

Because the two franchises have experienced a fair share of anguish and disappointment over the years, both Joe and Glenn agreed now is a good time for Bills and Bengals fans alike to appreciate having teams that win games consistently and have the potential, just maybe, to win it all.

"I don't want it to end," Joe said. "I don't want the season to be over. These are the good times."

"You want to relish these good times because you know how bad it was," Glenn said. "You don't want it to end, but you know in the back of your mind that these things do come to an end."