|Established 1959 |
Play in Orchard Park, New York
American Football League (1960-1969)
National Football League (1970–present)
|Team colors||Dark Navy, Red, Royal, Nickel, and White|
|Owner||Ralph C. Wilson Jr.|
|General Manager||Doug Whaley|
|Head Coach||Doug Marrone|
| League Championships (2)
| Conference Championships (4)
| Division Championships (10)
|This article was featured on the Main Page in June 2008.
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The Buffalo Bills are a professional American football team based in the Buffalo, New York metropolitan area, and play their home games in the suburb of Orchard Park. They are currently members of the Eastern Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The Bills began play in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football League and joined the NFL as part of the AFL-NFL Merger.
The Bills won two consecutive AFL titles in 1964 and 1965, but the club has not won a championship since the merger. Buffalo is also the first and only team to win four consecutive American Football Conference Championships, though they failed to win any of the subsequent Super Bowls. The franchise name comes from the legendary western hunter and performer Buffalo Bill.
The Bills conduct summer training camp at Saint John Fisher College.
1960-1985: O.J and CompanyEdit
The Buffalo Bills were a charter member of the American Football League (AFL) in 1960. After a public contest, the team adopted the same name as the former All-America Football Conference team in Buffalo. In the AFL, a predominantly offensive league, the Bills were a great defensive team.
The 1964 Bills 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. They were the first American Football League team to win 13 games in a 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 Fame, without ever playing in the NFL, was a member of the 1964 Bills; guard Billy Shaw.
The Bills 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. In addition to their defensive prowess, the Bills had offensive muscle as well, in stars such as fullback Cookie Gilchrist, quarterbacks Jack Kemp and Daryle Lamonica, and receivers Elbert Dubenion and 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.
Before the 1969 season, the Bills drafted running back O.J. Simpson, who would become the face of the franchise through the 1970s. The Bills became part of the NFL when the latter absorbed the AFL in a merger in 1970. In 1971, not only did the Bills finish in sole possession of the NFL's worst overall record at 1–13, but they also scored the fewest points (184) in the league that year while allowing the most (394); no NFL team has since done all three of those things in the same season in a non-strike year. Lou Saban, who had coached the Bills' AFL championship teams, was re-hired in 1972.
1973 was a season of change: Joe Ferguson became their new quarterback, they moved into a new stadium, Simpson recorded a 2,000-yard season 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 DeLamielleure as 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 electric 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.
After a mediocre 1975 season the Bills had internal troubles in 1976, as the team dropped to the bottom of the AFC East, where they stayed for the rest of the 1970s. After the 1977 season Simpson was traded to the San Francisco 49ers. Chuck Knox was hired as head coach and he would end up leading the Bills back to the top.
1980 marked another breakthrough for the Bills. They beat the archrival Miami Dolphins for 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 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. The following year—the strike-shortened season of 1982—the Bills slipped to a 4–5 final record.
In the famous 1983 draft the Bills selected quarterback Jim Kelly as their replacement to an aging Joe Ferguson, but Kelly decided to play in the upstart United States Football League instead. Knox left his coaching position to take a job with the Seattle Seahawks, and new coach Kay Stephenson proved to be less than stellar. In 1984 and 1985 the Bills went 2–14.
1986-1997: The Levy-Kelly EraEdit
After the USFL's demise, Jim Kelly joined the Bills for the 1986 season, welcomed into town as a hero and a savior. He soon would prove to be worth the wait. Midway through the 1986 season, the Bills fired coach Hank Bullough and replaced him with Marv Levy, the former head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. Levy, along with general manager Bill Polian put 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 Hull along with Jim Ritcher, Will Wolfford and Howard Ballard.
After the strike year of 1987, 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. After having an easy time with the Houston Oilers in the divisional playoff, they lost the AFC championship to the Cincinnati Bengals. 1989 was a relative disappointment, with a 9–7 record and a first-round playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns. The Bills had a chance to win the game as time was running out, but a Kelly pass was dropped in the corner of the end zone by Ronnie Harmon.
In 1990 the Bills switched to a hurry-up offense, (frequently with Kelly in the shotgun formation, the "K-gun", 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 in the playoffs on their way to Super Bowl XXV. The Bills were overwhelming favorites to beat the New York Giants, but the defensive plan laid out by coach Bill Parcells and defensive coordinator Bill Belichick kept Buffalo in check (and without the ball) throughout the game. The game featured many lead changes, and with the score 20–19 in favor of New York with eight seconds left, Bills kicker Scott Norwood attempted a 47-yard field goal. His miss was to become a famous failure.
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 Broncos in a defensive struggle in the AFC Championship. The Bills looked to avenge their heartbreaking Super Bowl loss a year earlier by playing the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XXVI, but it was not to be. The Redskins opened up a 24–0 halftime lead and never looked back, handing the Bills a 37–24 loss.
The Bills lost 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 Reich started 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 several consecutive possessions to tie the game and force overtime. Steve Christie kicked 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. Super Bowl XXVII, played against the Dallas Cowboys, turned out to be a mismatch. Buffalo committed 9 turnovers en route to a 52–17 loss. One of the sole bright spots for the Bills was Don Beebe's rundown and strip of Leon Lett after Lett had returned a fumble inside the Bills' 5 and was on his way to scoring. Lett held the ball out long enough for Beebe, who had made up a considerable distance to get to 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, setting up a rematch with the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXVIII on January 30, 1994 . The Bills became the only team ever to play in four straight Super Bowls, and looked ready to finally win one when they led at halftime. A Thurman Thomas fumble returned for a touchdown by James Washington tied the game, and the Bills were stunned again, 30–13.
The Bills would not get a chance to make it five straight in 1994. The team stumbled down the stretch and finished 7–9, fourth in the division and out of the playoffs.
In 1995 Buffalo, with free agent linebacker Bryce Paup anchoring the defense, again made the playoffs 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 Patriots team. 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 Phillips signed two quarterbacks for the 1998 season, Rob Johnson and former Canadian Football League star Doug Flutie. Despite many Bills fans wanting Flutie to get the starting job, 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 10–6 record. They faltered in their first playoff game against the Miami Dolphins.
Flutie's popularity continued into the 1999 season, with the Bills finishing 11–5, two games behind the Indianapolis Colts in 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 became to be known as the Music City Miracle: During the ensuing kickoff, Frank Wycheck lateraled the ball to Kevin Dyson who then scored the winning touchdown. Although Wycheck's pass may have seemed to be illegally forward, replays were found to be inconclusive and the call on the field was upheld as a touchdown.  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 Reed and Bruce Smith were all cut. Antowain Smith, Eric Moulds, and Marcellus Wiley respectively 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. Thomas would be quickly replaced by rookie Travis Henry.
Titans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams took 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 Pelt took 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 Brady led 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. After beating eventual champions New England 31–0 in the first game, and crushing the Jaguars in their second game, the Bills stumbled through the rest of the season, finishing 6–10. In fact their season had ended the exact opposite of the beginning as they were trounced by New England 31–0. In one game, however, the Bills' fans gained a small measure of satisfaction when the defense sacked Rob Johnson multiple times in his relief effort for the Washington Redskins. Gregg Williams was fired as head coach after the 2003 season and replaced with Mike Mularkey. The Bills also drafted another quarterback, J.P. Losman, to be used if Bledsoe continued to struggle in 2004.
Bledsoe did continue 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. Additionally, each loss was heartbreakingly close. The team finally managed to turn things around with a victory at home against the also winless Miami Dolphins. This, along with the emergence of Willis McGahee taking over the starting running back role from the injured Travis Henry, and emergence of Lee Evans to give the Bills a second deep threat, sparked the Bills to go 7–2 in their next nine games. This string of victories allowed the Bills to be in the hunt for a final AFC wildcard playoff spot. Though they would lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 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, who then signed with the Dallas Cowboys—reuniting him with former coach Bill Parcells. Many fans hoped that replacement J.P. Losman could lead the Bills to the playoffs in the 2005 season.
Losman's development did not proceed as quickly as the Bills had hoped it would. He began the 2005 season 1-3 as a starter, prompting Kelly Holcomb to replace him. Losman would not see action again until Holcomb was injured in Week 10 against the Kansas City Chiefs. He led the Bills to a win in that game, but would again be replaced by Holcomb after losing the next several games. Perhaps the low point of Losman's season was a 24-23 loss to the Miami Dolphins, a game in which Buffalo led 21-0 and 23-3, but gave up 21 unanswered points in the 4th quarter. Buffalo's 2005 campaign resulted in a 5-11 record and the firing of General Manager Tom Donahoe in January 2006. Marv Levy was named as his 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 Jauron was hired as his replacement.
Logo and uniformsEdit
When the Bills began playing in 1960, the team's colors were light blue, white, and silver. 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 team's colors changed to red, white, and blue. The team started to wear blue jerseys with red and white stripes on the shoulders. A red standing bison logo was also put on the helmets, which became white with a red center stripe.  By 1965, red and blue center stripes were put on the helmets. 
In 1974, the standing bison logo was replaced by a blue charging one with a red slanting stripe streaming from its horn. Ten years later, the color of their helmets were switched to red. Then in 2002, a darker shade of blue was introduced, along with red and white pipe trimming on the jerseys in pants.
Since 2005, the Bills have used the 1960s uniforms as the team's alternate/throwback jerseys.
- 1980-1987 - "Talkin' Proud" - Alden Schutte
- 1988-present - "Buffalo Bills Shout" - Buffalo Bills All-Stars
- 1994-1995 - "Go Bills!" - Marv Levy (unofficial)
Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties
* = Current Standing
Players and coaches of noteEdit
- 1985 - O.J. Simpson
- 1999 - Billy Shaw
- 2001 - Marv Levy
- 2002 - Jim Kelly
- 2003 - Joe Delamielleure
- 2003 - James Lofton
- 2003 - Joe DeLamielleure
- 2007 - Thurman Thomas
- 2009 - Bruce Smith
- 2009 - Ralph Wilson
- 1984 - Larry Felser - Dick McCann Memorial Award
- 2004 - Van Miller - Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award
Buffalo Bills Wall of FameEdit
- 1980 - O.J. Simpson
- 1984 - Jack Kemp
- 1985 - Patrick J. McGroder
- 1987 - Tom Sestak
- 1988 - Billy Shaw
- 1989 - Ralph Wilson
- 1992 - The 12th Man
- 1993 - Elbert Dubenion
- 1994 - Mike Stratton
- 1995 - Joe Ferguson
- 1996 - Marv Levy
- 1997 - Joe Delamielleure
- 1998 - Robert James
- 1999 - Edward Abramoski
- 2000 - Bob Kalsu
- 2000 - George Saimes
- 2001 - Jim Kelly
- 2001 - Fred Smerlas
- 2002 - Kent Hull
- 2003 - Darryl Talley
- 2004 - Jim Ritcher
- 2005 - Thurman Thomas
- 2006 - Andre Reed
- 2007 - Steve Tasker
- 2008 - Bruce Smith
- 2010 - Booker Edgerson
- 2011 - Phil Hansen
- 12 Jim Kelly, QB, 1986-96
- 15 Jack Kemp, QB, 1962-69
- 44 Elbert Dubenion, WR, 1960-68
- 66 Billy Shaw, OG, 1961-69
- 83 Andre Reed, WR, 1985-99
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 the entire season.
Other notable alumniEdit
- 1960-1961 - Buster Ramsey
- 1962-1965 - Lou Saban
- 1966-1968 - Joe Collier
- 1968 - Harvey Johnson
- 1969-1970 - John Rauch
- 1971 - Harvey Johnson
- 1972-1976 - Lou Saban
- 1976-1977 - Jim Ringo
- 1978-1982 - Chuck Knox
- 1983-1985 - Kay Stephenson
- 1985-1986 - Hank Bullough
- 1986-1997 - Marv Levy
- 1998-2000 - Wade Phillips
- 2001-2003 - Gregg Williams
- 2004-2005 - Mike Mularkey
- 2006-2009 - Dick Jauron
- 2009- Perry Fewell
- 2010-2012 - Chan Gailey
- 2013-present - Doug Marrone
| Front Office
Special Teams Coaches
Strength and Conditioning
- Buffalo Bills - Official Site
- Two Bills Drive (unofficial)
- Bills Zone (unofficial)
- Buffalo Bills Insider - Bills News and Largest Fan Community (unofficial)
- Sports E-Cyclopedia - Buffalo Bills
- BillsDaily - Bills News (unofficial)
- Buffalo Bills at the English Wikipedia