Bills History



Jack Kemp, Buffalo Bills quarterback (during the Bills first Glory Years in the mid-60s), had finally overcome his many other interests in 1965 so that he could concentrate strictly on his main vocation - professional football. This change in thinking turned him into one of the best quarterbacks in football during that era. The following article was written in 1965 by Rick Anderson.

Jack Kemp tosses screen pass against the San Diego Charges in 1964 AFL Championship game in which the Bills won 20-7.
[Photo by Robert L. Smith]

Through the blinding snowstorm in Boston's Fenway Park, one could barely see the white clad Buffalo Bills on the sidelines, who were waiting for the snow plows to clear off the field so that the game could begin. But a spectator couldn't help but see a fiery red-head tossing a football around like a shell shot out of a cannon. The player was none other than Jack Kemp, Buffalo's in-consistent quarterback.

The date was December 20, 1964, and the Buffalo Bills were to play Boston's Patriots in a game that was to decide the champion of the Eastern Division of the American Football League. There was some doubt in Bills' Coach Lou Sabin's mind on whom to start at quarterback. The week before he had let sophomore Daryle Lamonica play the whole game, and the former Irish star had directed Buffalo to a 50-19 victory over Denver. Sabin decided to go with experience and Jack Kemp.



Saban is surrounded by his players and his son as they await the end of an important game in 1964.
[Photo by Robert L. Smith]

They called him the Gypsy Coach. He was never one to hang his hat and overstay his welcome. Lou Saban would ride in on a white horse, save a football program and be gone in a flash. That was his nature. Saban has been a head coach of so many teams that even he probably cannot recall all of them in one sitting.

Lou Saban, the only coach in the history of the Buffalo Bills to win a league championship, will never see his name placed on the Bills Wall of Fame. Marv Levy's name was put up while he was still coaching. Levy took the Bills to four straight Super Bowls, but lost every one. Saban took the Bills to two straight AFL championships but never will find his name honored amongst the top Bills players and coaches on the wall.


The Professor goes to Canton - The Marv Levy Story

By Rick Anderson
Marv Levy was a dramatic coach on the sidelines for Buffalo

Once every decade of so, there arises a man who can sway millions with his great vernacular. Winston Churchill was one who could command the audience with his voice and delivery of well prepared speeches. Through the ages there have been great men who have been able to redirect the thinking of nations and have a major influence on world politics. In the mid 1980s, there arose a man more suited for the political battle field than the gridiron where he directed his troops onto many victories.

Marv Levy, who graduated from Harvard, took his education and used it to shape the careers of many pro football athletes. He would take his great command of the English language and use it to motivate his players to put forth their all to ensure victory. While he could have easily gone into the political arena, he chose instead the football arena.

Ten years to the date of the Bills first Super Bowl appearance, former Bills coach Levy was elected to go into Pro Football's Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. On the anniversary of the Bills heart wrenching defeat to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV, Levy was voted into the Hall on his very first try.



O.J. Simpson was a legend on and off the field and his days with the Buffalo Bills will always be remembered as exciting. "The Juice" was probably the most talented athlete ever to play for a Buffalo team in any sport. However, it was a murder case that Simpson was directly involved in that will forever cloud the opinions of people and fans alike. It was that murder trial that made Simpson infamous and even people who never heard of O.J. before will never forget his face or name again.

O.J. Simpson terrorized the NFL with his speed and ability to break loose from would-be tacklers with his brilliant moves.
[AP Photo]

Orenthal James Simpson was one of the most acclaimed football players ever drafted in the National Football League. The Buffalo Bills used their No. 1 overall pick in 1969 to select Simpson. Simpson, who had won the Heisman Trophy in 1968 as the top collegiate football player, would leave his mark on the city of Buffalo in more ways than one. He would become the all-time Bills runner, gaining the most yards per season over any other Bills runner. It was not until Thurman Thomas broke his career rushing record in 1999, that one of Simpson's records would fall by the wayside.

In Simpson's rookie year with the Buffalo Bills in 1970, he played under Bills head coach John Rauch. Rauch had different plans for Simpson than what the former Heisman Trophy winner had envisioned. The Bills used Simpson more on the special teams than what he considered his primary role as a running back. He was put on the kickoff return team and during one return in his rookie year, Simpson received a severe knee injury. The next year Lou Sabin returned to the helm as Bills head coach and he made Simpson the center piece of his offense. Starting in 1972, Simpson racked off five straight years where he ran for 1,000+ yards. During that span, Simpson made the Pro Bowl and was named All-Pro. The Juice was the NFL rushing king four years and was voted the NFL Player of the year in 1972, 1973 and 1975.



Quarterbacks don't come any tougher

The Bills History section of Bills Thunder has been dedicated to the outstanding players who have worn a Bills uniform in their great history. Check out the Bills History section for even more profiles of the greatest Bills of all time. The following is about Jim Kelly, who has to be rated as the Bills all-time greatest quarterback.

The Buffalo Bills have had some outstanding quarterbacks in their storied history. Jack Kemp led the Bills to three straight AFL East championships and two straight AFL championships in the mid-60s. Daryle Lamonica, his backup, often came in relief and outplayed Kemp in those championship years. Lamonica, know as the "Mad Bomber" was famous for his long-ball home run touchdown passes and was traded to the Oakland Raiders where he won a couple Super Bowls.
Jim Kelly stands tall in the pocket as he gets set to send a bullet into enemy territory.
[Photo by Robert L. Smith]

Then there was Joe Ferguson, who played 13 years for the Bills and set some franchise passing records in the process. There have been other quarterbacks who have had their day in the sun for the Bills, but none of them nor the greats mentioned above can compare to Jim Kelly.

Kelly has to be rated as the best quarterback in the Bills history. His 11-year career with the Buffalo Bills includes 4 straight trips to the Super Bowl and he helped lead the Bills to the best record of any NFL team in the 1990s. No quarterback will ever come along who'll be tougher than Kelly. People would always describe him as a quarterback "with a linebacker's mentality." He would block for his runners without a moment's hesitation and when he ran, he'd put every ounce into making that extra yard. If Kelly threw an interception, he'd take off in that direction and try to make the tackle. In fact, a couple of times he'd make that opposing player who picked off one of his passes pay dearly, as Kelly delivered some punishing tackles.


Copyright 2000 Bills Thunder & Rick Anderson, all rights reserved.


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