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These AFL Team pages were salvaged from the defunct site, which inspired my AFL pages.
They are dedicated to that site's creator, Robert Phillips, who has re-created his site at

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The Buffalo Bills began their pro football life as the seventh team to be admitted to the new American Football League. The franchise was awarded to Ralph C. Wilson on October 28, 1959. During their more than three decades in the AFL and, beginning in 1970, the merged National Football League, the Bills have experienced extended periods of both championship dominance and second-division frustration. The Billsą first brush with success came in their fourth season in 1963 when they tied for the AFL Eastern division crown but lost to the Boston Patriots in a playoff. But in 1964 and 1965, they not only won their division but defeated the San Diego Chargers each year for the AFL championship. Head Coach Lou Saban, who was named AFL Coach of the Year each year, departed after the 1965 season.

Buffalo lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1966 AFL title game and, in so doing, just missed playing in the first Super Bowl. Then the Bills sank to the depths, winning only 13 games while losing 55 and tying two in the next five seasons. In 1968, the Bills finished a dismal 1-13, but it allowed the Bills to pick first in the AFL draft and took Heisman Trophy winner O.J. Simpson from U.S.C. While Simpson would be the key man in the winning years in the early 1970s, such stars as quarterback Jack Kemp, who later became a United States Congressman, fullback Cookie Gilchrist and defensive tackle Tom Sestak played dominant roles in the 1960s.

Through it all, Buffalo fan support has been magnificent. Attendance demands forced the expansion of the Bills' first inner-city home, War Memorial Stadium, from 26,000 to 45,748 during the 13 seasons the Bills played there. Through it all, Wilson has remained as one of the oldest owners, in terms of longevity, in the entire pro football world.

Bills Facts

  • Franchise Granted:
    October 28, 1959
  • First Season:
  • Stadium:
    War Memorial Stadium
  • Head Coach:
    Buster Ramsey, Lou Saban, Joe Collier, Harvey Johnson, John Rauch
  • AFL Championships:
    1964, 1965
  • AFL Division Championships:
    1964, 1965, 1966
  • All-Time AFL Record:
    67- 71-6
  • Retired Uniform Numbers:

Bills' Historical Performance

1960 14 5 8 1 296 303 0.393    Buster Ramsey
1961 14 6 8 0 294 342 0.429    Buster Ramsey
1962 14 7 6 1 309 272 0.536    Buster Ramsey
1963 14 7 6 1 304 291 0.536    Lou Saban
1964 14 12 2 0 400 242 0.857    Lou Saban
1965 14 10 3 1 313 226 0.750    Lou Saban
1966 14 9 4 1 358 255 0.679    Joe Collier
1967 14 4 10 0 237 285 0.286    Joe Collier
1968 14 1 12 1 199 367 0.107    Joe Collier, Harvey Johnson
1969 14 4 10 0 230 359 0.286    John Rauch

Bills Totals 140 65 69 6 2940 2942 0.486  

1964 1 0 1.000 AFL CHAMPIONS
1965 1 0 1.000 AFL CHAMPIONS

Firsts, Records, and Odds and Ends

  • First Regular-Season Game:
    A 27-3 loss to the New York Titans, 9/11/60.
  • First Regular-Season Points:
    35-yard field goal by Darrell Harper vs. New York Titans, 9/11/60
  • First Regular-Season Touchdown:
    One-yard run by Wray Carlton vs. the Denver Broncos, 9/18/60.
  • First Regular-Season Win:
    A 13-0 victory over the Boston Patriots, 9/23/60.
  • First Winning Season:
    1962 (7-6-1)
  • First Playoff Appearance:
    A 26-8 loss to the Boston Patriots in an AFL Eastern Division playoff game, 12/28/63.
  • First Championship:
    A 20-7 victory over the San Diego Chargers for the 1964 AFL Championship.
  • First to Rush 100 Yards In A Game:
    Art Baker, 117 yards vs. the San Diego Chargers, 12/9/61.
  • First 1,000-Yard Rusher:
    Cookie Gilchrist, 1,096 yards (1962).
  • First Bill Elected to the Hall of Fame:
    RB O. J. Simpson, 1985.
  • Original Team Colors:
    Royal blue and silver.
  Copyright 1997-2004 Robert Phillips. All rights reserved.             


USA Today ~ August 8, 2009

Bills' AFL glory days came too early to make a Super mark
Coach Lou Saban, left, led the Buffalo Bills to the AFL championship in 1964 and 1965.
AP photo
Coach Lou Saban, left, led the Buffalo Bills to the AFL championship in 1964 and 1965.
Ninth in a series exploring the histories of all 10 AFL franchises as the NFL celebrates the league's 50th anniversary. See the full series.

The "Shot Heard 'Round the World" means different things in different contexts.

In history, it is the gunshot that began the American Revolution.

In baseball, it is Bobby Thomson's epic 1951 home run that propelled the New York Giants into the World Series.

And in Buffalo, it is Mike Stratton's hit on Keith Lincoln, springboard to the 1964 and '65 AFL championships, still the only titles in the Bills' star-crossed history.

The line comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson's Concord Hymn. Stratton's tackle was poetry of a different sort — "one of the most beautiful tackles I have ever seen in my life," as Chargers coach Sid Gillman put it afterward.

San Diego pummeled the Boston Patriots 51-10 in the 1963 AFL title game, and many believed Gillman's high-flying offense would buffalo the Bills in 1964. Sure enough, Lincoln slashed 38 yards on the first play from scrimmage, and the Chargers jumped to a 7-0 lead on an 80-yard opening drive.

They were moving again on the next possession when Lincoln flared out of the backfield for a Tobin Rote swing pass. Stratton remembers it in frame-by-frame slow motion.

"I was running scared," Stratton recalled recently from his mountain home in Tennessee. "I knew if Keith caught it before I got there, he could juke me out of my pants."

Running back, linebacker and ball arrived in one terrible moment: Stratton lowered his shoulder, and Lincoln crumpled to the grass, ribs broken.

"They tell me you could hear it in the stands," Stratton says. "I thought he just had the wind knocked out of him; then he didn't get up."

Lincoln was done for the day, and so were the Chargers. They did not score again in the 1964 title game (Bills 20-7) or at all in the 1965 rematch (Bills 23-0).

The Chargers exemplified the pinball passing offenses on which the AFL staked its name. The Bills won their titles with bruising defense of the traditional NFL style.

"When you look back, everything gets rosier," says Stratton, 68, a retired insurance agent. "But I know we had an excellent, just excellent defense."

Paul Maguire, one of 20 originals who played in all 10 AFL seasons, played his first four seasons for the Chargers, largely at linebacker, and six more in Buffalo as a punter.

"The Bills had Harry Jacobs, John Tracey and Mike Stratton at linebacker," Maguire says. "I couldn't beat out any of them. They were so good, and they were never hurt."

They played behind a talented line anchored by tackle Tom Sestak and in front of an active secondary led by safety George Saimes.

"Booker Edgerson and Butch Byrd were lock-down corners," Maguire says. "That left George free to roam."

Saimes and Sestak were named to the all-time AFL team, as was guard Billy Shaw. Quarterback Jack Kemp was not, though he personified "The Other League" on many levels. Kemp is another of the AFL originals who played in all of its seasons. He also played in five of its 10 championships, was an AFL All-Star seven times and the MVP in 1965.

Kemp presaged his political career, and his belief in supply-side economics, when he said of his $5,189 player share for the 1965 title game, "You can't play football forever, so I'm putting my money in securities."

The Bills' kicker in 1964 and '65 was Hungarian-born Pete Gogolak, pro football's first soccer-style kicker. The New York Giants signed him away in May 1966, an escalation of the leagues' signing wars that had previously involved college players. The merger with the NFL took shape quickly in the weeks after as the leagues opted not to drain their coffers while trying to outbid each other for established stars.

Cookie Gilchrist was the AFL's version of Jim Brown. In 1963, he ran for 243 yards against the New York Jets, then a pro football single-game record. But the Bills traded him to the Denver Broncos after the 1964 campaign because coach Lou Saban tired of Gilchrist's headstrong nature.

Saban died in March, Kemp in May. Maguire says he has done a lot of thinking about his old friends in the weeks since. Maguire remembers especially Saban's hurried pregame speech before the 1964 title game. The referees were telling the Bills to get on the field. Gilchrist shouted at Saban to get going lest the Bills be penalized.

"So Saban jumped up on a table," Maguire says, "and, I swear to God, this is exactly what he said: 'I only have one thing to say to you: Heads down, toes up!'

"And Cookie started to open the door, then closed it and looked at Lou and said, 'What the (blank) does that mean?' And Lou said, 'I don't know, I'm as nervous as you are.' And we all just started laughing."

Maguire says the Bills hurried out, still laughing as they passed by the Chargers, his former teammates, in a narrow hallway outside the locker rooms.

"Dave Kocourek — we used to be in the bar business together in San Diego — he looks at me, and we're all laughing, and he says, 'You think it's going to be that easy?' And I said, 'David, I don't have enough time to explain it to you.' And then we went out and kicked their (rears).

"I never found out if Lou did it on purpose to get us loose. I don't think so, but knowing him, maybe he did. Every time I asked, he just got that grin on his face."

The 1964 and '65 titles were the last two AFL championships before the Super Bowl era. The Bills reached a third consecutive AFL championship game after the 1966 season, but the Kansas City Chiefs beat them 31-7 for the right to play in the first NFL-AFL championship game, now retroactively known as Super Bowl I. The Bills' glory years faded from there.

Still, Stratton thinks if the Super Bowl era had begun one or two years earlier, the Bills just might have won against the Cleveland Browns after the 1964 season or against the Green Bay Packers in '65.

"I would have relished the opportunity," Stratton says. "And I would have picked us."


        In a league that was denigrated as a "no defense" league, the 1964 Buffalo Bills not only scored the most points that season, they gave up the fewest, while marching to their first AFL Championship. Their defense featured the linebacker corps of Harry Jacobs, John Tracey and Mike Stratton, who were in the midst of a 67-game run, playing together as a unit. In front of them, Tom Sestak and the rest of the "Formidable Four" started their own streak, going 17 straight games without allowing an opponent to score a touchdown by rushing.
      I'm flattered that USA Today is using the "charging bison" logo that I designed in 1965. To see the original, click HERE.



USA TODAY Series on the AFL:  

  How the AFL changed the NFL
   Boston Patriots
   Miami Dolphins
     CincinNati Bengals
    Denver Broncos
     Los Angeles/San Diego CHARGERS
     Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs
    New York TITANS/JETS



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Last revision: 13 July 2016 ~ Angelo F. Coniglio,