Family Sports

A Visit to the 2013 Buffalo Bills Training Camp

For a decade now, in what is certainly an annual tradition for the Campbell family, we welcome each new Buffalo Bills season by attending the first (and several more) training camp practices.

The practices are held at St. John Fisher College (our old stomping grounds … Ian was practically born there!) and are full of so many fun things to do and seeโ€”all for only a couple bucks![1. The event is free, but you have to be shuttled there on busses. Adults (12 and up) pay $1 each to ride the bus. Not too bad!]

Buffalo Bills Training Camp 2013 - St. John Fisher College

The allure of this event is not just football. Sure, that’s the main draw, and we Campbells are always excited about Buffalo Bills football. (It’s true. We may have a problem…) But beyond watching the players practice in groups and as a team, sometimes only a few feet away from you, there are activities galore!



The Campbell kids (and many others) love the Interactive Zone. This is a section of the campus dedicated to inflatable, football-themed fun! You can run through inflated obstacle courses, kick field goals through photographic goal posts, throw touchdowns into giant images of CJ Spiller and Stevie Johnson, and many more super-fun activities. (We often end up spending as much time here as we do watching football!)


There are several other vendors at the Training Camp, also, and most of them have some sort of giveaways. One of our first stops every year is the “Plinko”-style game at the Verizon booth. Some of their prizes include mini-footballs (handy for autographs!), stickers resembling “eye blacks”, and this year, bead necklaces in the Bills’ team colors.

Speaking of autographs, certainly one highlight for the older boys is flagging down players and coaches to sign anything and everything they can think of. The players will often come over to the fences where the eager fans are lined up with their Sharpees and jerseys, footballs, programs, and every other sign-able thing.

Bills Rookie QB, E.J. Manuel signs Cam's blue footballโ€”with a personalized birthday message!
Bills Rookie QB, E.J. Manuel signs Cam’s blue footballโ€”with a personalized birthday message!

The Bills also have a tent set up where three or four lines are formed for scheduled autograph sessions for specific players. This year the Campbell kids got photos and autographs of the QBs and some of the DBs in the Autograph Tent.

Bills DB, Leodis McKelvin, posing for a photo with Alex (and signing his autograph book)
Bills DB, Leodis McKelvin, posing for a photo with Alex (and signing his autograph book)

It’s not just limited to players, though. This year the boys even managed to flag down Peter King of Sports Illustrated (and a few other publications/media outlets) and get him to sign an item or two. Bills reporter, Chris Brown, and a few other lesser-known media members have also penned their names to one or more of the Campbell brothers’ possessions!


Bills Training Camp is definitely one of the highlights of the summer for us. It also signals the end of summer, and the beginning of fall. (The best season of them all!)

What will 2013 hold for this Buffalo Bills team? Not sure. There’s been so much change here. (Did you read my post from early July about this year’s Bills team?) It really does seem promising. At least it will be different.

In the end, it’s just fun. Like training camp. Fun!

Kirsten said today, “Sports are weird. They just… try to get this ball across these painted lines…”

Yep. Pretty much. ๐Ÿ™‚

But we still find the fun.

Go Bills!


Entertainment Family Sports


Life is full of unpredictability. We can often live under the illusion that we know what’s coming, that we are in control, but really… life throws you a curveball more often than not.

And that includes the NFL. ๐Ÿ˜‰

As you may know, if you’ve frequented this blog, the Campbell family enjoy a weekly seasonal tradition of tracking whom we think will win each of the NFL games every fall. It’s a fun thing to do together that we all enjoy, but the best part for me is watching the youngest choose the team they think will win. They are usually pretty sure they know, with a good measure of certainty!

And so am I… but this week, not so much!!

All year I’ve been doing pretty well. I had begun to think, “Hmm… I have this thing all figured out!” Going into this weekend, through nine weeks, 130 games, I had gotten ninety of them correct. 90-40. That was several (or many) games better than many so-called “experts”. Nice!

But then what happened? Who knew Seattle could actually beat Baltimore? And, who in the world could have predicted the John Skelton-led, 2-6 Arizona Cardinals could fly all the way across the country to Philadelphia and beat a much more talented Eagles team???

Not me.

So, I have fallen from my perch atop our family league’s standings (at least, I think I was previously atop it…) and I’ve also slipped into second place in another league of NFL pick making.

What is this world coming to??? ๐Ÿ™‚

For now, I think it’s a good reminder that you never really know what’s coming. No, life is not one big NFL game. (Or even a collegiate level or otherwise lesser game.) However, it does seem to throw just as many curve balls as some crazy NFL weeks, like this one!

Speaking of unpredictable and the world of NFL football… how about those Buffalo Bills?!

Good thing we at least know there is Onewe can always count on in this crazy unpredictable world. ๐Ÿ™‚

Entertainment Family Sports

Family Football Fun: Wrapping Up the 2010 Season

Well, it’s official. If you’re a fan of the NFL, you know that when the playoffs start next week, they will include for the first time ever a team with a losing record. That’s right. A losing record. Something about that fascinated me and I found myself watching nearly all of the game that just finished. (That’s rare… I usually only watch the Bills games and then hardly any of the rest of the games on NFL weekends.)

If you are not a fan of the NFL, you may have figured out that a team with a losing record is not a very good team. You’re right. Both teams tonight, while they had their moments, also showed repeatedly why they finished the year 7-9.

The football season has ended (in a way) and that means that our Campbell Family Football Fun has ended as well. I think I have posted here before that we make picks as a family each week, and tally all the results. Every game, every week. It’s a blast! I believe this was at least the third season we’ve done it, perhaps the fourth.

This year was the second for “The Girls” (Kirsten and Julia, our 6 and 4-year-old girls as a team) to make their picks. Right out of the gate they had a sizable lead, and they kept it most of the year! It was so fun to see them picking crazy picks… and getting them right!!! But besides pure innocent luck, even better were all the times that these two tiny girls pondered their selections, weighing the pros and cons for each team including who’s playing and who’s not, where the game is being held, current trends for both teams… they were great!

Sadly, though they were tied with Dad going into the final week, Dad pulled off an incredible 12-4 record for the week, while the girlsโ€”perhaps paying homage to the first losing-record team to make the post seasonโ€”finished 7-9.

However, don’t feel too sad for them. Mom and Ian finished tied for at a distant third. They still had quite a great year!

And, Kirsten was the champion of our family fantasy football league, too, beating out Uncle Scott by .54 points in the league’s championship game! (Way to go Dark Pink Pony Pigs! Yes… Kirstie’s very creative team name…) ๐Ÿ™‚

We love football Sundays, but honestly, I think we love all the family fun even more than the NFL or the games themselves!

Now we can’t wait till next year!

Entertainment Family Sports

Good (Competitive) Family Fun!

NFL LogoFor the last two, or maybe three years we Campbells have been having some more interactive fun with the weekly NFL games. Not only do we enjoy watching as much of them as we can on weekends, we also try to predict the outcome of each, and we have quite the “set up” to track our results!

Before the season begins we print out all the NFL logos on card stock (6 total sets) and then we set to work cutting each one out. That’s a pretty fun part, too, as the kids enjoy cutting out the shapes of the logos. (And Alex enjoys making the shapes even more interesting!) Then we put them all in little ziploc baggies that bear our names and we’re ready to go.

Then each week, I print out the schedule of games and one of us sets up the bulletin board with the week’s games. Everybody then pins up the logo of the team they expect to win and we have a nice little pick’s board hanging on our dining room wall. On Sundays we put up big colorful thumbtacks next to the choices that were correct.

There are five columns of predictions next to the game list. Dad, Ian, Alex (the original three participants), Mom & “The Girls” (our six- and four-year-old girls who work as a team). So far Emma and Cameron are not participating. But I’m sure they will!

Now, the best part this year is the current standings. The first year, I finished as the winner, but only by a narrow margin over our then 6-year-old son. Last year I believe Ian won, by a good amount of games (Dad finishing second) and this year? I know it’s only two weeks, but… the girls are SIX games ahead of the rest of us!!!

The Girls: 23-9
Dad: 18-14
Mom: 17-15
Alex: 16-16
Ian: 14-18

Too funny! I mean… those little girls probably have the best record of any prognosticators anywhere. And the best part is, they’re not just completely guessing! They actually know the teams, which ones tend to win more or less, and that home teams generally have the advantage over road teams. Incredible!

Family Fantasy SportsSo, along with our own family fantasy football league (hosted at we have quite a bit of fun here in the Campbell household during football season!

(Fun except when Ian steals all of the free agent running backs that I am trying to pick up!!!)


Family Sports

Are You Ready For Some Football??

NFLNFL football is back! The regular season starts this week with a game featuring the World Champ NY Giants and the Washington Redskins on NBC Thursday night, a full slate of games on Sunday (including the BILLS GAME!), and then a double-header on ESPN on Monday Night. I can’t wait!!

The Bills are looking really good this year. From the coaches and the offensive and defensive schemes, to the players, established and new… it really could be a fun season to be a Bills fan. (I know I say that pretty often, but… seriously. Just watch…) ๐Ÿ™‚

The start of the season also means that it’s time for Dad & the Boys to make their weekly NFL picks! ๐Ÿ™‚ I almost feel like I am looking forward to that more than the football ๐Ÿ™‚ It was lots of fun last year, and should be even more fun this year! We’re doing the whole season this time!

There’s a cool Facebook application where you can make picks and compare your results against your friends… it’s called Pro Football Picks, if you’re interested.

So, just a few days away… let the games begin!!

Family Sports


NFL FootballThis season I have been asked to join a panel of “experts” in predicting the outcome of each week’s NFL games. So far I am in second place, behind my Buffalo Bills Review partner, Dave Drake, and another guy who are tied for first.

This week, after hearing the boys subtly add their voice to the discussion of my picks each week, I decided to let them in on it! So I made up little sheets for them to each make their picks and we’ll see who ends up with the best record by the end of the season. ๐Ÿ™‚ (Actually, you might be surprised… there’s a good chance they will!)

It’s fun to see how excited they are about it ๐Ÿ™‚

Even funnier was seeing how Alex changed a couple of his picks after announcing the games he was not going to get right – only to find out he could still change his picks up to kickoff time. ๐Ÿ™‚ He’s pretty cute. He now assures us that he will go 16-0 this week.

The big game of course is tonight, where our Bills face the New England Patriots. Ian and I have our Bills winning in the end (good boy, Ian!) and Alex changed that one… which will of course help him go 16-0.

We’ll see!

Go Bills!

Family Sports

Bills Lose More Than a Football Game

Kevin EverettWe were four of the 74,000 fans in attendance at yesterday’s home opener for the Buffalo Bills, and we were four of 74,000 shocked fans at the end of the game thanks to a winning field goal with only one SECOND left on the clock (which was still running down when they snapped the ball!)

Unfortunately, we were also four of 74,000 stunned and silent fans when Kevin Everett made a tackle that may have paralyzed him for the rest of his life. He suffered a cervical spine injury (I believe that’s a neck injury) when he tackled the return man on the opening kickoff of the second half. He was down for around 15 minutes, and when I saw the hit I reacted audibly, thinking it was a super hit. A little too super. The ambulance came out on the field, and I was just hoping he was not dead.

He’s not dead, but I bet he’s scared. A lot.

The Buffalo News reported last night that he had surgery, and the doctors want to wait till later today to make any further diagnoses. We can still hope for the best. Certainly God can heal/restore anything. But for now, it does not look good for this young man. So sad.

We’ll be doing a show tonight, and I’m sure talking about that. Strange how that is in the forefront of the minds of most Bills fans today, rather than the shocking last second loss by one point on a day when the Bills led for 59 min and 59 seconds of the game.

Perhaps our priorities are actually in the right place.

Family Sports

Go Bills!

I just noticed that it’s been three days since my last post! (Not really, but by the calendar days here, it looks like that!) That’s crazy! Didn’t really take a vacation, just been writing elsewhere. It’s Buffalo Bills season! So, in addition to my article following Friday night’s game, I’ve been spending a little time chatting with fellow Bills fans on the Buffalo Bills forums. (As well as some other forums – here, and here.)

Tomorrow night (um… tonight, if you’re going by the date posted…) we’ll be heading up to St John Fisher College with the boys to go to the Bills’ night practice! Never been to one of those. I hear they are a blast. Some more “real” action than the daytime practices. A bit more for the fans.

Then Friday night we’ll see our first live action of the season. We’ll be in attendance (with our boys again!) at Ralph Wilson Stadium for the Bills/Falcons game! It’s just pre-season… so, definitely not the same as regular season. But you try telling that to our five and eight year old boys. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m sure they’ll be having “regular season” fun!

Never been a better time to subscribe to our Buffalo Bills Show! New hosts, more articles, even new t-shirts (info coming soon). You can use the regular old RSS feed, or subscribe at iTunes!

Go Bills!

Family Sports

Skyline Party (with an NFL QB???)

Skyline Chili!One of our favorite foods is Skyline Chili. It’s a regional delicacy for Southwestern Ohio. Specifically from Cincinnati. There are many brands of “Cincinnati-style chili” but we like to think Skyline is the best. (Of course, Chi might tell you it’s Empress Chili… but I’m sticking with Skyline.) Over the years I have taken a recipe for Skyline chili that I received from (I think?) my mother-in-law, through my sister-in-law (Jen’s entire family are Skyline afficionados…) and added, subtracted, monkeyed with, and attempted to match the real deal as best I can.

I’m close… but still not quite there.

Still… it is a fantastic thing that I can make GALLONS of Skyline-like Chili in my own house!!!

Well, this weekend, we’re headed to Clarence for a little family party (celebrating the graduation of one of our neices, among other things). It was requested that I make and bring the main course – Skyline Chili!!!

There are many things being celebrated this weekend. There’s Megan’s graduation. ๐Ÿ™‚ And a church that my in-laws have lent their musical and preaching talents to on numerous occasions is celebrating 100 years of existence. So we’re celebrating that with them. My in-laws will be leaving soon for their summer travels, so it will be a good-bye party of sorts… and since they’ll be gone for my father-in-law’s birthday and their anniversary (same day), I’m sure we’ll be celebrating that too…..

But that just wasn’t enough.

My mother-in-law is very gifted. She can play the piano like nobody’s business. She has probably sewn (or do you just make?) THOUSANDS of quilts in her lifetime. She can sew anything. AND, she can cook. Add to that the fact that she loves to do all of those things for people, and she keeps herself pretty busy! ๐Ÿ™‚ Well, she had been trying to have the Holcomb family over for dinner, where our family could join them – and we’d get to meet a (former) Buffalo Bills, NFL QB!

The problem is that little “former” word back there…

Kelly was traded to Philadelphia a while ago. His family still lives here in Buffalo area, and they attend the various functions at the Clarence Church of Christ (where Jen’s family attends, and Dad was the preacher for 31 years!). Jen’s Mom has been trying for awhile to get together with them again, and found out that they are headed to Philly very soon. SO…

They’re coming to our party! ๐Ÿ™‚

So now we’re celebrating everything above … AND it’s a “going away party” for the Holcombs! ๐Ÿ™‚

This morning as I was adding all the right seasonings to the giant vat of Skyline, I was thinking, “Kelly Holcomb – #10 for the Buffalo Bills – will get to eat my Skyline… CRAZY!” ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s certainly a fun addition to an already fun weekend… and as you can guess, the boys are quite excited to have a meal with KELLY HOLCOMB. ๐Ÿ™‚

I wonder if we’ll get to play a little football??? ๐Ÿ™‚

So, that’s part of what we’re looking forward to this weekend. I’m sure I’ll have some kind of a report here by Monday.

Hope your weekend is full of Skyline, family celebrations and milestones, and meals with NFL QBs also!!

Family Sports

Year’s End

Well, we have 30 minutes of this year left, and I just wanted to write a quick post to the ol’ blog… for no particular reason. I hope to post a few more things once the family is in bed and the house is quiet. We’re just having a fairly “quiet” New Year’s celebration here at the Campbell home tonight (but you know how that goes with two boys ages 8 and 5…) ๐Ÿ™‚

We got to watch FOOTBALL all day today. That was fun. Our Bills lost, which is never fun, but we’re already looking forward to next season! They should be a pretty fun team next year. And in the meantime, we’ve got the Sabres! Whoohooo!

It’s been an interesting year. Perhaps more interesting in this final month which saw a return to full-time singing (if only for a week), the loss of another baby (this time a little farther along, and quite unexpected), and some major pressure with an overload of business all at once (And somehow, a simultaneous bottom-dropping-out of the cashflow?) It’s been a rather long, hard month… which is a funny way to end a year.

Best thing about 2006? Has to be Julia Gayle. Born March 11, 2006… she’s just awesome. I love her a ton, and I feel like I barely know her. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ll see if I can put a little list of good (and bad?) things from 2006 up here in the next 24 hours or so. Seems the end-of-the-year sort of thing to do. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hope you had a great 2006, and that you’re looking forward to 2007. It’s only 27 minutes away now… ๐Ÿ™‚