ORCHARD PARK - For the first time since his retirement from the National Football League in 1991, former Buffalo Bills kicker Scott Norwood returned to Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday.
Unfortunately for Norwood, no one remembers his 1988 season in which he was 32 for 37 for an 86.5-percent success rate and led the league in scoring. Nor will anyone remember his participation in several community charity events such as Camp Good Day and Special Teams.
There are only two words synonymous with Norwood.
Norwood's missed field goal as time expired in Super Bowl XXV, which gave the New York Giants a 20-19 win, has made him the butt end of jokes for the past two decades.
But on Sunday, he was honored with the Ralph C. Wilson Distinguished Service Award.
Now in its 26th year, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Distinguished Service Award was established by the MQC to honor former Buffalo Bills players for their contributions to the team.
Before the reception, Norwood spoke to the media looking a bit nervous thinking about the reaction he would receive from the fans.
"I don't go into it with any pre-formed expectations" he said. "I would hope and think from my experience that it will be generally very positive. I do not see any reason why it wouldn't be. I guess that the basis of my visit here is not so much for the football part of my career. I see the award more as a result of my service to the community."
And while the football world will never forget the final seconds of Super Bowl XXV, it was warming to see the Bills' fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium have forgiven Norwood, as they gave him a warm ovation when he was shown on the scoreboard in his return to the place he called home from 1985 to 1991.
"It feels terrific to be back," he said. "Not so much in front of the cameras and speaking with people in the media, but it's been nice to see some old teammates. The connections are long and deep here and it's just a tremendous feeling to be back amongst everybody."
Norwood was a Pro Bowl kicker and it is unfair to judge him for one missed kick and disregard everything he did for the community and the franchise.
"I think coming back into this setting is definitely a time to look back," Norwood said. "It's not something many of us do in our normal lives It is a time of reflection. For what I had to give, I think I performed and maybe exceeded what I could do. I took it seriously while I was here and did the best I could in all situations. I handled myself the best I could."