Buffalo Bills Football
The Buffalo Bills are an American football team based in the New York area. In fact, they are currently the only professional football team to play their home games in New York State (the Jets and Giants play home games in New Jersey). They are located in the Eastern Division of the AFC, along with the Dolphins, Patriots and Jets.
Buffalo Bills football was born in 1959 when Detroit Lions minority owner Ralph Wilson decided to own a team in Lamar Hunt’s new American Football League. Wilson first attempted to place a team in Miami, but he turned to Buffalo when that fell through. He sent Hunt a famous telegram which read, “Count me in with Buffalo.”
The next step was to hold a public contest to establish the name of the team. The winning entry had the same name as the All-America Football Conference Buffalo Bills, a team which merged with the Cleveland Browns in 1950 and was originally named after Buffalo Bill Cody.
The Bills joined the AFL on October 28th, 1959. They were the eighth team to join, and they began play as a charter member in 1960.
Loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats
In 1961, they became the first and only AFL team to lose to a team from the Canadian Football League. Playing on the road against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the Bills were defeated by a score of 38 to 21.
The team adopted a standing red bison as their logo in 1962. This would stand until 1974, when the logo was changed to a charging blue bison with a red stripe trailing from its horn.
With the acquisition of players such as quarterback Jack Kemp and running back Cookie Gilchrist, the Bills began to show improvement. They won back-to-back league titles in 1964 and 1965, and they became the only team to play four consecutive years in the AFL post-season (1963 through 1966).
The Bills were so dominant during this period that the AFL changed their all-star format in 1965 to allow the league’s top stars to play against Buffalo. The Bills lost, 30-19, and the regular all-star format was restored the following year.
In 1970, the Bills became part of the NFL when the NFL/AFL merger occurred. Joe Ferguson was added at quarterback in 1973, and the team had its first winning season since 1966. Running back O.J. Simpson rushed for 2,000 yards that year and was later voted as league MVP.
An important part of the offense during this time was the offensive line, known as the “Electric Company” (because they provided electricity for the “Juice”). This group was comprised of OG Reggie McKenzie, OT Dave Foley, C Mike Montler, OG Joe DeLamielleure and OT Donnie Green.
In the 1983 NFL draft, the Bills chose quarterback Jim Kelly to replace the aging Joe Ferguson. Kelly, however, decided to sign with the new United States Football League (or the USFL). The team finished with a 2-14 record in 1984 and 1985, but Kelly would eventually join in 1986 after the USFL went out of business.
Halfway through the 1986 season, Marv Levy was selected to replace coach Hank Bullough. Teamed with general manager Bill Polian, Levy brought aboard players such as Andre Reed, Bruce Smith, Kent Hull and Will Wolford. In 1988, running back Thurman Thomas was drafted in the second round.
In 1990, the NFL Buffalo Bills switched to an offensive scheme which frequently featured Kelly in the shotgun. This “K-Gun” formation proved highly effective, and the team advanced all the way to Super Bowl XXV. They lost 20-19 to the New York Giants, although Bills’ kicker Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal as time expired.
Four AFC Titles in a Row
The Bills won four straight AFC Championships from 1990 until 1993, a feat which has yet to be matched. However, they lost to the Redskins in Super Bowl XXVI (37-24), the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXVII (52-17) and the Cowboys again in Super Bowl XXVIII (30-13).
Frank Reich Comeback
During the 1992 season, they were part of the biggest comeback in NFL history, as they overcame a 32 point deficit to defeat the Houston Oilers in overtime, 41-38. Frank Reich served as quarterback in the game, filling in for an injured Jim Kelly.
After the Superbowls
In the late 90s, quarterback Rob Johnson was brought aboard in a trade, as well as CFL star and Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie. The team made the playoffs in 1998 and 1999, but were eliminated in the wild card round both years. A particularly disappointing loss was the Music City Miracle, when the Tennessee Titans scored a disputed touchdown on a kickoff return with no time left to knock the Bills out of the playoffs. The Titans subsequently would go to the Superbowl.
In 2000, many players from the Bills’ Super Bowl teams were cut, including Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith and receiver Andre Reed. It was officially a new era for the Bills, but the team hasn’t had a winning season in the eight years since.
J.P. Losman and Trent Edwards
In 2005, J.P. Losman was named the new starting quarterback over veteran Drew Bledsoe. In 2006, Marv Levy was hired as the team’s new general manager (he would retire in 2007 when his contract expired). A number of coaches have come and gone in recent years, including Gregg Williams, Mike Mularkey, Dick Jauron and Wade Phillips. Prior to the 2008 season, Losman was seeking a trade after being benched in favor of Trent Edwards.
Toronto Home Game
In 2008, it was announced that the Bills will play one December game in Toronto, Ontario, Canada for each of the next five seasons.
The team’s cheerleaders are known as the Buffalo Jills. The official team mascot is known as Billy Buffalo.