- Buffalo Bills
NFL team | name = Buffalo Bills
founded = 1959
city = Orchard Park, New York and
colors = Dark Navy, Red, Royal Blue, Nickel, White
general manager = Russ Brandon [Brandon's official title is "chief operating officer," although he fulfills the duties of a general manager. The Bills do not currently have a person with the title of General Manager.]
Adrian Montgomery "(Toronto operations)"
hist_yr = 1960
American Football League(1960-1969)
* Eastern Division (1960-1969)
NFL_start_yr = 1970
American Football Conference(1970-present)
no_league_champs = 2
no_conf_champs = 4
no_div_champs = 10
* AFL Championships (2)
* AFC: 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993
* AFL East: 1964, 1965, 1966
* AFC East: 1980, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995
- AFL: 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966
- NFL: 1974, 1980, 1981, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999
no_playoff_appearances = 17
* War Memorial Stadium (1960-1972)
Ralph Wilson Stadium(1973-present)
** also known as Rich Stadium (1973-1998)
** also known as Bills Stadium (1998) (6 games)
Rogers Centre(2008-present) (1 game/year)The Buffalo Bills are a professional American footballteam based in the Buffalo, New York metropolitan area, playing seven of their home games in the suburb of Orchard Park, and, beginning in 2008, an eighth home game in Toronto. They are members of the Eastern Division of the American Football Conference(AFC) in the National Football League(NFL). The Bills began competitive play in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football Leagueand joined the NFL as part of the AFL-NFL merger.
The Bills won two consecutive American Football League titles in 1964 and 1965, but the club has not won a league championship since the merger. Buffalo is also the only team to win four consecutive American Football Conference Championships, though they failed to win any of the subsequent
The Bills were named as the result of the winning entry in a local contest, which named the team after the AAFC Buffalo Bills, a previous football franchise from the
All-America Football Conferencethat merged with the Cleveland Brownsin 1950. That team, in turn, was named after Buffalo Bill Cody. The Bills' cheerleaders are known as the Buffalo Jills. The official mascot is Billy Buffalo.
The Bills conduct summer training camp at
Saint John Fisher Collegein Pittsford, NY, a suburb of Rochester.
They are the only NFL team to play their home games within
New York State. Both the New York Jetsand the New York Giantsplay in the suburb of East Rutherford, New Jerseyoutside of New York City. On October 2, 2005, the Bills played the New Orleans Saintsin the first NFL regular season game held in San Antonio, Texas. They are also the only team to play home games in Canadaand, currently, the only one to have two home sites (and only the third in modern NFL history; the Green Bay Packershad played games at sites in Green Bay and Milwaukee from 1933 until 1994 (and continue to maintain a separate ticket plan for former Milwaukee season ticket holders), and the aforementioned Saints split home games between San Antonio, Giants Stadiumand Baton Rouge, Louisianain 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina).
The AFL years
Lamar Huntannounced formation of the American Football League in the summer of 1959, Detroit Lionsminority owner Ralph Wilsondecided to field a team in the new league. After being turned down in his effort to put a team in Miami, Florida, he next turned to Buffalo. This effort was successful, and he sent Hunt a telegram with the now-famous words, "Count me in with Buffalo."
After a public contest, the team adopted the same name as the former
All-America Football Conferenceteam in Buffalo. On October 28, 1959; the Buffalo Bills officially became the 8th member of the AFL.
August 8, 1961, the Bills were the first (and only) American Football League team to lose to a Canadian Football Leagueteam, the nearby Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The score of the exhibition gamewas 38-21 in favor of the home team. [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20050207165524/http://www.nfl.com/international/story/6699961 NFL International Results] from "NFL.com".]
The Bills' success would improve over the next several years as the team acquired quarterback
Jack Kempfrom the San Diego Chargersand Canadian Football Leagueall-star running back Cookie Gilchrist. During the 1960s, the team won AFL championships in both 1964 and 1965 and were one of only three teams to appear in an AFL championship game for three consecutive years, and the only AFL team to play in the post-season for four straight years, 1963 through 1966. During this period the league, for one year (1965), changed the format of their all-star game so that the Bills played against the league's all-stars (as opposed to the east/west system they used normally). The Bills lost, 30-19.
In the AFL, a predominantly offensive league, the Bills were a great defensive team. In 1964, the defense allowed Buffalo to become the first American Football League team to win 13 games in a season (including the league championship game). During that year, they allowed just 913 yards rushing on 300 attempts during the regular season, a pro football record. The same defense registered fifty quarterback sacks, a team record that stands today, even though it was established in a 14-game season. The 1964 defense also allowed only four touchdowns rushing all season, and started a string that would extend into the 1965 season: seventeen straight games without allowing an opponent to score a rushing touchdown. Eight members of the 1964 squad were on that year's AFL Eastern Division All-Star Team, including cornerback
Butch Byrd. Three were eventually named to the American Football League's All-Time Team, and six to the second team. The only professional football player ever inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Famewithout ever playing in the NFL was a member of the 1964 Bills; guard Billy Shaw.
In addition to their defensive prowess, the Bills had offensive muscle as well, in stars such as fullback
Cookie Gilchrist, quarterbacks Jack Kempand Daryle Lamonica, and receivers Elbert Dubenionand Ernie Warlick. Tragedy struck the Bills when Bob Kalsu, an offensive lineman, quit the team after his 1968 rookie season to serve in the Vietnam War, where he was killed in action in 1970.
After a rough 1968 season that saw Kemp injured and converted wide receiver (and future Erie County Executive)
Ed Rutkowskiat quarterback, the Bills finished in last place and earned the first overall pick in the 1969 NFL Draft, which the Bills used on running back O. J. Simpson.
The Bills became part of the NFL when the latter absorbed the AFL in a merger in 1970. Then in 1973,
Joe Fergusonbecame their new quarterback, Simpson rushed for 2000 yards and was voted NFL MVP, and the team had its first winning record since 1966. The "Electric Company" of Simpson, Jim Braxton, Paul Seymour, and Joe DeLamielleureas recounted in the locally-recorded hit "Turn on the Juice", lead a dramatic turnaround on the field. The "Electric Company" was the offensive line (OG Reggie McKenzie, OT Dave Foley, C Mike Montler, OG Joe DeLamielleure and OT Donnie Green) which provided the electricity for the "Juice". The team made the NFL playoffs for the first time in 1974, but lost in the first round to the eventual Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
Buffalo would not reach the playoffs again until 1980. They beat the archrival
Miami Dolphinsfor the first time in 11 years in their season opener, en route to winning their first AFC East title. The following season they lost their AFC East title to the Dolphins, but won their first NFL playoff game (over the New York Jets). They lost in the second round to the eventual AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals.
In the 1983 draft the Bills selected quarterback
Jim Kellyas their replacement to an aging Joe Ferguson, but Kelly decided to play in the upstart United States Football Leagueinstead. Meanwhile, the team finished the season with a 2-14 record in 1984 and 1985. Kelly would eventually join the Bills for the 1986 season after the USFL's demise. Then midway through the 1986 season, the Bills fired coach Hank Bulloughand replaced him with Marv Levy, the former head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. Levy, along with general manager Bill Polianput together a receiving game featuring Andre Reed, a defense led by first-overall draft pick Bruce Smith, and a top-flight offensive line, led by center Kent Hullalong with Jim Ritcher, Will Wolfordand Howard "House" Ballard.
In 1988, the rookie season of running back
Thurman Thomas, the Bills went 12 – 4 and finished atop the AFC East for the first of four consecutive seasons. Two years later, the Bills switched to a hurry-up offense, (frequently with Kelly in the shotgun formation, known as the "K-gun," although the K-gun was named for tight end Keith McKeller) and it started one of the most successful runs in NFL history. The team finished 13 – 3 and blew out the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Raiders (51-3) in the playoffs on their way to Super Bowl XXVwhere they would lose to the New York Giants20-19 as Scott Norwood's 47-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right as time expired.
The Bills steamrolled through the 1991 regular season as well, finishing 13 – 3 again and with Thurman Thomas winning the Offensive Player of the Year award. They also had an easy time with the Kansas City Chiefs in their first playoff game and beat the
Denver Broncosin a defensive struggle in the AFC Championship, losing 37-24 to the Washington Redskinsin Super Bowl XXVI.
The Bills lost out on the 1992 AFC East title to the Miami Dolphins and Jim Kelly was injured in the final game of the regular season. Backup quarterback
Frank Reichstarted their wild card playoff game against the Houston Oilers, and they were down 35 – 3 early in the third quarter. Undaunted, the Bills scored touchdowns on four consecutive possessions and five out of six to take the lead, only for the Oilers to tie the game at the end of regulation and force overtime. Steve Christiekicked the game-winning field goal in the extra session to cap the biggest comeback in NFL history, 41 – 38. They then handily defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional playoff and upset the archrival Dolphins in the AFC Championship to advance to their third straight Super Bowl. Though they lost to the Dallas Cowboys52-17, a memorable play was Don Beebe's rundown and strip of Leon Lettafter Lett had returned a fumble inside the Bills' five yard line and was on his way to scoring. Lett started celebrating too early and held the ball out long enough for Beebe, who had made up a considerable distance on Lett, to knock it out of his hand.
The Bills won the AFC East championship in 1993 with a 12 – 4 record, and again won playoff games against the Los Angeles Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, losing the rematch with the Cowboys 30-13 in
Super Bowl XXVIIIon January 30, 1994.
During this period
Steve Taskerestablished himself year in and year out as the league's top special teamsperformer.
In 1995 Buffalo, with free agent linebacker
Bryce Paupanchoring the defense, again won the AFC East title with a 10 – 6 record, and defeated Miami in the wild card round. They would not get a chance to get back to the Super Bowl — the Pittsburgh Steelers, who went on to advance to the Super Bowl, beat Buffalo in the divisional playoffs 40-21.
In 1996 the Bills saw their commanding lead in the AFC East race disappear to a surging
New England Patriotsteam. They still made the playoffs, but as a wild card — and the first victim of the Cinderella Jacksonville Jaguars, the first visiting team ever to win a playoff game in Buffalo. Jim Kelly retired after the season, signaling an end to the most successful era in Bills history. Thurman Thomas gave way to new running back Antowain Smith. Kelly's loss was felt in 1997, with the Bills stumbling to 6 – 10. Coach Marv Levy retired after the season.
The Bills, under new coach
Wade Phillipssigned two quarterbacks for the 1998 season, one that Buffalo traded a high first round pick for, and one that was signed as almost an afterthought. The former trade was for Jaguars backup Rob Johnson and the latter trade was for former Heisman Trophy winner and Canadian Football Leaguestar Doug Flutie. Despite many Bills fans wanting Flutie to get the starting job after Flutie looked the better of the two QBs in camp and in preseason, Phillips named Johnson to the position. The Bills stumbled to begin the season, and after Johnson suffered a rib injury against the Indianapolis Colts, Flutie came in and led the Bills to a playoff spot and a 10 – 6 record. They faltered in their first playoff game against the Miami Dolphins, although Eric Mouldsset a playoff record for most receiving yards in a game with 240.
Flutie's popularity continued into the 1999 season, with the Bills finishing 11–5, two games behind the
Indianapolis Coltsin the AFC East standings. Wade Phillips gave Rob Johnson the starting quarterback job in the first round playoff game against the Tennessee Titans even though Flutie had won 10 games and had gotten the Bills into the playoffs. The Bills scored a field goal with 16 seconds left to give them a 16–15 lead. But the Titans won the game on a controversial play that came to be known as the Music City Miracle: During the ensuing kickoff, Frank Wychecklateraled the ball to Kevin Dysonwho then scored the winning touchdown. Although Wycheck's pass was close to an illegal forward lateral, replays were ruled inconclusive and the call on the field was upheld as a touchdown. [http://www.nfl.com/news/story/6908433] The Titans went on to advance to the Super Bowl.
The final ties to the Bills' Super Bowl years were severed in 2000, when
Thurman Thomas, Andre Reedand Bruce Smithwere all cut. Antowain Smith, Eric Moulds, and Marcellus Wileyrespectively had long since eclipsed them on the depth chart. After an 8–8 season, and the team still caught up in the Johnson vs. Flutie controversy, general manager John Butler departed for the San Diego Chargers— and took Flutie and Wiley with him. Doug Flutie left the Bills with a .677 winning percentage in 31 starts. Antowain Smith also left as a free agent for the New England Patriots, where he was the starting running back on their first two Super Bowl championship teams. Both Flutie and Smith were dominant in their final game as Bills, in a 42-23 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Smith would be quickly replaced by rookie Travis Henry.
Titans defensive coordinator
Gregg Williamstook over as head coach for the 2001 season, which proved to be the worst in recent memory for the Bills. Rob Johnson went down in mid-season with an injury and Alex Van Pelttook over. Buffalo finished 3–13. The Bills even lost a much-hyped mid-season match up with "Bills West" (the Flutie-led Chargers). After the season they traded for quarterback Drew Bledsoe, deemed expendable by the Patriots after Tom Bradyled them to a Super Bowl victory.
Bledsoe revived the Bills for the 2002 season, leading them to an 8–8 record, setting 10 team passing records in the process. However, in a tough division with all other teams finishing 9–7, they were still in last place. Another Patriots castoff, safety
Lawyer Milloy, joined the Bills days before the 2003 season began and gave the team an immediate boost on defense. However, the Bills stumbled through the season, finishing 6–10 and costing Gregg Williams' his job. Mike Mularkeywas then hired as head coach, and the team drafted another quarterback, J.P. Losman.
Bledsoe continued to struggle in 2004. The Bills started the 2004 season 0–4, with Bledsoe and his offense struggling in their run-first offense, averaging only 13 points per game. The team finally managed to turn things around with the emergence of
Willis McGahee(a first round-pick and a gamble by the Bills due to the knee injury that McGahee suffered in his last college game) taking over the starting running back role from the injured Travis Henry, and emergence of Lee Evans. The Bills went 9 – 2 in their next eleven games, and allowed the Bills to be in the hunt for a final AFC wildcard playoff spot. Though they would lose to the Pittsburgh Steelersin the final game of the season, costing them a playoff berth, the late season surge gave the team a positive direction to approach 2005.
The Bills released quarterback Drew Bledsoe and named Losman as the starter. But the team began the 2005 season at 1–3, prompting
Kelly Holcombto replace him. Losman would not see action again until Holcomb was injured in Week 10 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Buffalo's 2005 campaign eventually resulted in a 5–11 record and the firing of General Manager Tom Donahoein January 2006. Marv Levy was rehired by the Bills to become Donahoe's replacement, with hopes that he would improve a franchise that failed to make the playoffs during Donahoe's tenure. That same month, Mike Mularkey resigned as head coach, citing family reasons along with disagreement over the direction of the organization. Dick Jauronwas hired as his replacement.
The 2006 and 2007 seasons both brought 7–9 records under Jauron's coaching, having been eliminated from playoff contention in December in both years. 2006 saw the additions of
Donte Whitner, Ko Simpson, Ashton Youboty, Anthony Hargroveand Kyle Williamsto the defensive corps while 2007 brought in Trent Edwardsto quarterback the offense, rookie first-round draft pick Marshawn Lynch, second-round pick Paul Posluszny, offensive linemen Derrick Dockeryand Langston Walker, and backup running back Fred Jackson. J. P. Losmanplayed all 16 games in 2006 but was benched in early 2007 in favor of Edwards.
At the end of the 2007 season, Levy retired once again, citing the fact that he had reached the end of his two-year contract. Meanwhile offensive coordinator
Steve Fairchild, a frequent fan target for the Bills' offensive woes, was hired as head coach of Colorado State University's football program, and Losman was (as of January 2008) seeking a trade out of Buffalo. Offensive line coach Jim McNallyretired shortly after the end of the season. All of those positions were filled from within, with Turk Schonertpromoted to offensive coordinator.
In January 2008, the Bills became the first team to arrange to play annual home games outside of the
United Stateswhen an agreement was struck for the Bills to move one of its December home games for each of the next five years to Toronto, Ontario's Rogers Centre.Gaughan, Mark and Jerry Sullivan. [http://www.buffalonews.com/258/story/264441.html Bills have deal in place for Toronto games] . Buffalo News. 30 January 2008.] In the agreement, owner Ralph Wilson will lease the team to Ted Rogers (of Rogers Communications) in exchange for C$78,000,000. [Warzala, Steve. [http://wgr550.com/Bills-to-be-paid--78-Million/2093366 Bills to be paid $78 Million] . WGR. 29 April 2008.]
Logos and uniforms
When the Bills began playing in 1960, the team's colors were royal blue, white, and silver, very similar to that of the
Detroit Lions. The team wore blue jerseys with gray numbers and white jerseys with blue numbers. The helmets were all silver with blue numbers on the side.
In 1962, the standing red bison was designated as the logo and took its place on a white helmet. [ [http://hometown.aol.com/bkbubco/60-Buf.html Elbert Dubenion - 1960 ] ] In 1962, the team's colors also changed to red, white, and blue. The team switched to blue jerseys with red and white stripes on the shoulders. the helmets were white with a red center stripe. [ [http://hometown.aol.com/bkbubco/62-Buf.html Cookie Gilchrist - 1962 ] ] By 1965, red and blue center stripes were put on the helmets. [ [http://hometown.aol.com/bkbubco/65-Buf.html Billy Shaw & Tom Sestak - 1965 ] ]
In 1974, the standing bison logo was replaced by a blue charging one with a red slanting stripe streaming from its horn. In 1984, the helmet's background color was changed from white to red, reportedly in part to distinguish them more readily from three of their division rivals at that time, the
Indianapolis Colts, the Miami Dolphins, and the New England Patriots, who all also wore white helmets at that point. Then in 2002, a darker shade of blue was introduced, along with red and white pipe trimming on the jerseys in pants. The original shades of red and blue, however, were contained as striping colors. They are also still used on their logos. In the same year in 2002, the Bills white uniforms went through a radical change. The white uniforms include a red stripe on the sides and are dark blue along the shoulders of the uniforms. The current white uniforms are worn for most Bills road games.
*1988–pres. "Buffalo Bills Shout" – Buffalo Bills All-Stars
*1994–1995. "Go Bills!" – Marv Levy (unofficial)
*1980–1987. "Talkin' Proud" – Alden Schutte
Players of note
Pro Football Hall of Fame
O. J. Simpson
Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame
O. J. Simpson
Patrick J. McGroder
Ralph C. Wilson Jr.
*1992 - The 12th Man
*1998 - Robert James
* 12 Jim Kelly, QB, 1986–96 [http://www.nflteamhistory.com/nfl_teams/buffalo_bills/retired_numbers.html]
*32 O. J. Simpson, RB, 1969–77
*34 Thurman Thomas, RB, 1988–99
*78 Bruce Smith, DE, 1985–99 "(although guard
Ruben Brownused 78 as his practice jersey; he wore 79 on the field)"
Since the earliest days of the team, the number 31 was not supposed to be issued to any player. The Bills had stationery and various other team merchandise showing a running player wearing that number, and it was not supposed to represent any specific person, but the 'spirit of the team.' The tradition was broken in 1969 when reserve running back Preston Ridlehuber was issued number 31 for one game while his normal number 36 jersey was repaired by equipment manager Tony Marchitte. The number 31 was not issued again until 1990 when first round draft choice James (JD) Williams wore it for his first two seasons. The number has since been released for use by any player and was most recently worn by backup running back
Other notable alumni
Recent Pro Bowl selections
*2007 Season - Jason Peters (Offensive Tackle), Aaron Schobel (Defensive End - Injury Replacement) [ [http://www.nfl.com/news/story?id=09000d5d8053b226&template=without-video&confirm=true 2008 Pro Bowl rosters ] ]
*2006 Season - Aaron Schobel (Defensive End), Brian Moorman (Punter) [ [http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/16287024/ 2007 Pro Bowl rosters - NFL - MSNBC.com ] ]
*2005 Season - Brian Moorman (Punter) [ [http://football.about.com/od/nflhistory/a/2006probowl.htm 2006 Pro Bowl Rosters ] ]
*2004 Season - Brian Moorman (Punter), Mike Schneck (Need Player) [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2267705 ESPN - 2005 AFC Pro Bowl roster - NFL ] ]
*2003 Season - Takeo Spikes (Line Backer), Ruben Brown (Offensive Guard) [ [http://football.about.com/cs/history/a/afcprobowl2004.htm 2004 Pro Bowl Roster - AFC ] ]
*2002 Season - Drew Bledsoe (Quarterback), Ruben Brown (Offensive Guard), Eric Moulds (Wide Receiver), Travis Henry (Running Back - Injury Replacement) [ [http://espn.go.com/nfl/probowl03/s/afcprobowl03.html ESPN.com: NFL - AFC Pro Bowl squad ] ]
Coaches of note
Lou Saban(1962–1965, 1972–1976)
*Harvey Johnson (1968, 1971)
Radio and television
Buffalo Bills Radio Networkis currently flagshipped at WGRF96.9FM, with games also available on WEDG103.3FM. John Murphy is the team's current play-by-playannouncer; he was a Color commentatoralongside and eventually succeeded longtime voice Van Millerafter Miller's retirement at the end of the 2003 NFL season. Mark Kelsoserves as the color analyst. The Bills radio network has over twenty affiliates in upstate New Yorkand one affiliate in Toronto.
During preseason, most games are televised on Buffalo's ABC affiliate,
WKBW-TVchannel 7, with several other affiliates in western New York. Any non-Sunday games are also simulcasted on the same station. For the 2008 season, CITY-TVin Toronto became a part of the network. In addition, preseason games are also now broadcast in high definition.
Notes and references
History of the Buffalo Bills(Greater depth)
List of American Football League players
Buffalo Bills seasons
* [http://www.buffalobills.com/ Buffalo Bills - Official Site]
* [http://www.poz51.com/ Buffalo Bills - MLB Paul Posluszny Official Website]
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