The Buffalo Bills may be indirectly responsible for the worst act of domestic terrorism in United States history, a controversial new book claims.
Politico Magazine published an excerpt from a new book detailing the unraveling of Timothy McVeigh, the returning Gulf War veteran whose isolation and extremist views eventually led him to detonate a bomb outside a federal building in Oklahoma City. The account, an excerpt from a new book by Sam Anderson, explained that a doomed Super Bowl bet helped to send him down that dark path.
As the Bills headed toward their third consecutive Super Bowl, Timothy McVeigh pooled together all the money he had and put it on the Bills to win, the book noted.
“At age twenty-four, he was a washed-up war hero with nothing going for him, no community or connections, no meaningful way forward. So McVeigh called his bookie and wagered $1,000 on the Super Bowl. There was simply no way the Bills were going to lose again, not for a third consecutive time.”
But the Bills did lose — by one of the biggest margins in Super Bowl history. The Dallas Cowboys forced nine turnovers and beat the Bills by a score of 52-17. As the report noted, McVeigh felt lost and soon became obsessed with anti-government causes.
Despite the implication that the Bills were a large part of Timothy McVeigh’s radicalization, the author noted that he wasn’t actually trying to imply that the Bills were the reason McVeigh bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City.
“I am not saying that Timothy McVeigh bombed Oklahoma City in 1995 because the Buffalo Bills lost four Super Bowls in a row. (They made it back in 1994 and—incredibly—lost that one too, cementing their reputation as the greatest losers in NFL history.) Such a claim would be absurd.”
But even the indirect connection between the Bills and the act of terrorism that claimed 168 lives has generated quite a bit of controversy. Deadspin said it was a ” breathtakingly insane” article, and others pointed out that McVeigh’s doomed Super Bowl bet was no secret. The bet was also detailed in a 2001 book from New York journalists Dan Herbeck and Lou Michel, which also described McVeigh’s descent into anti-government conspiracy theories.
Others noted that the author seemed to ignore the many other factors that led McVeigh to become an extremist to focus on the most sensational one.
Which of these external factors was most relevant to Timothy McVeigh deciding to bomb Oklahoma City?— Dan Nguyen (@dancow) September 3, 2018
1. PTSD from the Gulf War
2. Anger over the Waco siege
3. The Buffalo Bills losing their 3rd consecutive Super Bowl and/or the Michael Jackson halftime show pic.twitter.com/FLBqV1QtjI
"I am not saying that Timothy McVeigh bombed Oklahoma City in 1995 because the Buffalo Bills lost four Super Bowls in a row." WTF. https://t.co/zUpNiRE2ov— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) September 3, 2018
Many Buffalo Bills fans have also slammed the story connecting Timothy McVeigh’s Super Bowl bet to the bombing, seeing it as a gratuitous shot at a team that has long been the butt of jokes.