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Who Knew The Buffalo Bills Loved Penn State Wrestling?

Thanks to its national prestige and recent successes, Penn State wrestling has fans far and wide. This week, though, the program drew some love from one of the NFL’s biggest names.

During his weekly press conference on Monday, Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott happened to spend a good chunk of time touting the efforts of Cael Sanderson’s Nittany Lions — the kind of program he’s hoping to establish up in Orchard Park.

“I have a ton of respect for Cael,” McDermott said, as reported by Sports Illustrated. “I mean, you look at not only his personal wrestling career…but what he’s been able to accomplish in the next chapter of his life…You know, just the culture he’s built. You look at the amount of national championships they’ve won, and I think that’s that speaks for itself, but also more broadly, how they’ve done it — not just what they’ve done, but how they’ve done it.”

Although he’s far more versed on the gridiron, McDermott is no stranger to wrestling. Back in high school, he became a national prep champion wrestler in 1992 and 1993 while competing at 171 pounds.

As a fan of the sport, he even visited Happy Valley in 2019 to check out the Nittany Lions before they departed for the NCAA Championships. After viewing a practice, though, McDermott joked he had no desire to get back on the mat.

“I’m not sure I would have fared all that well, and I may not have made it out alive, to be honest with you,” McDermott said. “Those guys are being awfully good there…The level of wrestling was at an all-time high.”

The Bills head coach was also uniquely impressed by Penn State’s approach to shaking off nerves before a high-stakes event.

“This is the top program in America, and they’re playing dodgeball the day or two before they leave for nationals,” McDermott recalled. “I think it’s just really how an elite coach prepares his team for all parts of getting his players, his wrestlers, in this case, to perform at their best in mind, body, and spirit, right? Not just the body, but also the physiological part of of the approach and what goes into it.”

McDermott could certainly afford to take a page or two from Penn State’s book as the Bills continue their season. Up next is a trip to Arrowhead Stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs’ divisional round.

Although a Super Bowl title is likely well within reach for the high-octane Bills, Buffalo would need 10 championships to catch up with Penn State wrestling — eight if you count those dusty pre-Super Bowl titles. Baby steps!

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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