Established.... February 12, 1960
First Season.... 1960 with American Football League
Stadium..... New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York
Conference..... American Football Conference East 1970-present / AFL Eastern 60-69 NFL 1970
Team Nicknames..... Cold Front, Electric Company, Fort Knox, Ground Chuck, Kelly Gun/K-Gun
1st Game Against BUCS..... Sunday, September 26, 1976
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made their game debut against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, September 26, 1976 during a home game at the Tampa Stadium, losing 09-14.
The Buccaneers first ever victory against the Buffalo Bills came on Sunday, November 19, 1978 during a home game played in Tampa Stadium, winning score 31-10.
The Buccaneers and Bills have meet several times in the pre-season with evenly matched results and include one 1993 game played in Orlando, Florida and another played in Nashville, Tennessee in 1988.
Below click on ANY date to view extensive details of all gameday encounters. We have featured details of each opponent, highlights of each games statistics, players, scoring details, media coverage, photographs with a detailed game report. Below the listed dates we also include full details of the Opponent.
|ALL GAMES vs. BILLS (H=home @=away)|
|H||Sep. 26, 1976||L||09-14||H||Nov. 19, 1978||W||31-10||H||Dec. 19, 1982||W||24-23|
|H||Nov. 02, 1986||W||34-28||H||Dec. 04, 1988||W||10-05||H||Sep. 22, 1991||L||10-17|
|H||Nov. 26, 2000||W||31-17||H||Sep. 18, 2005||W||19-03||@||Sep. 20, 2009||L||20-33|
|H||Dec. 08, 2013||W||27-06||@||Oct. 22, 2017||L||27-30|
|PLAYOFF GAMES vs. BILLS (H=home @=away)|
|NFC Championship||Score||NFC Championship||Score||NFC Championship||Score|
The Buffalo Bills are based in the Buffalo–Niagara Falls metropolitan area. The Bills compete in the National Football League (NFL), as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) East division. The team plays their home games at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. The Bills are the only NFL team that plays its home games in the state of New York (the New York Giants and New York Jets play at MetLife Stadium, located in East Rutherford, New Jersey). The Bills conduct summer training camp at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, New York, an eastern suburb of Rochester, New York.
The Bills began play as an original franchise of the American Football League (AFL) in 1960. The club joined the NFL as a result of the AFL–NFL merger for the 1970 season. The 1964 and 1965 Bills were the only teams representing Buffalo that won major league professional sports championships ("back-to-back" American Football League Championships). The Bills are the only team to win four consecutive conference championships and are the only NFL team to lose four consecutive Super Bowl games. The team was owned by Ralph Wilson from the team's founding in 1960, until his death in 2014 at the age of 95. After his death, Wilson's estate reached an agreement to sell the team to Terry and Kim Pegula, which was approved by the other NFL team owners on October 8, 2014. The Bills have the longest active playoff drought in any major professional sport: they have not qualified to play in the NFL playoffs since 1999 and are the only team that has not appeared in the playoffs so far in the 21st century.
The Bills' official mascot is Billy Buffalo, an eight-foot tall, anthropomorphic blue American bison who wears the jersey "number" BB.
The Bills currently do not have cheerleaders. The Bills employed the Buffalo Jills, an independent organization, from 1967 to 2013; the Jills suspended operations prior to the 2014 season due to legal actions. The Bills and Jills are currently involved in a legal battle, in which the Jills allege they were employees, not independent contractors, and are seeking back pay.
The Bills are one of six teams in the NFL to designate an official marching band or drumline (the others being the Baltimore Ravens, Washington Redskins, New York Jets, Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks). Since the last game of the 2013 season, this position has been served by the Stampede Drumline, known outside of Buffalo as Downbeat Percussion. The Bills have also used the full marching bands from Attica High School, the University of Pittsburgh and Syracuse University at home games in recent years.
The Bills have several theme songs associated with them. One is a variation of the Isley Brothers hit "Shout", recorded by Scott Kemper, which served as the Bills' official promotional song from 1987 through 1990s. It was officially replaced circa 2000 with "The Power of the Bills", although "Shout" remains in use. The Bills' unofficial fight song, "Go Bills", was penned by Bills head coach Marv Levy in the mid-1990s on a friendly wager with his players that he will write the song if the team won a particular game.
The Bills Backers are the official fan organization of the Buffalo Bills. It has over 200 chapters across North America, Europe and Oceania. Also notable is the Bills Mafia, a collection of Bills fans organized via Twitter beginning in 2010; the phrase "Bills Mafia" had by 2017 grown to unofficially represent the broad community surrounding and encompassing the team as a whole, and players who join the Bills often speak of joining the Bills Mafia. Outsiders often treat the Bills' fan base in derogatory terms, especially since the 2010s, in part because of negative press coverage of select fans' wilder antics.
The Bills are one of the favorite teams of ESPN announcer Chris Berman, who picked the Bills to reach the Super Bowl nearly every year in the 1990s. Berman often uses the catchphrase "No one circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills!" Berman gave the induction speech for Bills owner Ralph Wilson when Wilson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
The Bills were also the favorite team of late NBC political commentator Tim Russert, a South Buffalo native, who often referred to the Bills on his Sunday morning talk show, Meet the Press. (His son, Luke, is also a notable fan of the team.) CNN's Wolf Blitzer, also a Buffalo native, has proclaimed he is also a fan.
Bills fans are particularly well known for their wearing of Zubaz zebra-printed sportswear; so much is the association between Bills fans and Zubaz that when a revival of the company opened their first brick-and-mortar storefront, it chose Western New York as its first location.
The Bills' uniforms in its first two seasons were based on those of the Detroit Lions at the time. The team's original colors were Honolulu blue, silver and white, and the helmets were silver with no striping. There was no logo on the helmet, which displayed the players' numbers on each side.
In 1962, the standing red bison was designated as the logo and took its place on a white helmet. In 1962, the team's colors also changed to red, white, and blue. The team switched to blue jerseys with red and white "LSU" stripes on the shoulders. the helmets were white with a red center stripe. The jerseys again saw a change in 1964 when the shoulder stripes were replaced by a distinctive stripe pattern on the sleeves consisting of four stripes, two thicker inner stripes and two thinner outer stripes all bordered by red piping. By 1965, red and blue center stripes were put on the helmets.
The Bills introduced blue pants worn with the white jerseys in 1973, the last year of the standing buffalo helmet. The blue pants remained through 1985. The face mask on the helmet was blue from 1974 through 1986 before changing to white.
The standing bison logo was replaced by a blue charging one with a red slanting stripe streaming from its horn. The newer emblem, which is still the primary one used by the franchise, was designed by aerospace designer Stevens Wright in 1974.
In 1984, the helmet's background color was changed from white to red, primarily to help Bills quarterback Joe Ferguson distinguish them more readily from three of their division rivals at that time, the Baltimore Colts, the Miami Dolphins, and the New England Patriots, who all also wore white helmets at that point. Ferguson said "Everyone we played had white helmets at that time. Our new head coach Kay Stephenson just wanted to get more of a contrast on the field that may help spot a receiver down the field." (The Patriots now use a silver helmet, the Colts have since been realigned to the AFC South, and the New York Jets, who switched to green helmets after the 1977 season, have since switched back to white helmets.)
In 2002, under the direction of general manager Tom Donahoe, the Bills' uniforms went through radical changes. A darker shade of blue was introduced as the main jersey color, and nickel gray was introduced as an accent color. Both the blue and white jerseys featured red side panels. The white jerseys included a dark blue shoulder yoke and royal blue numbers. The helmet remained primarily red with one navy blue, two nickel, two royal blue, two white stripes, and white face mask. A new logo, a stylized "B" consisting of two bullets and a more detailed buffalo head on top, was proposed and had been released (it can be seen on a few baseball caps that were released for sale), but fan backlash led to the team retaining the running bison logo. The helmet logo adopted in 1974—a charging royal blue bison, with a red streak, white horn and eyeball—remained unchanged.
In 2005, the Bills revived the standing bison helmet and uniform of the mid-1960s as a throwback uniform.
The Bills usually wore the all-blue combination at home and the all-white combination on the road when not wearing the throwback uniforms. They stopped wearing blue-on-white after 2006, while the white-on-blue was not worn after 2007.
For the 2011 season, the Bills unveiled a new uniform design, an updated rendition of the 1975–83 design. This change includes a return to the white helmets with "charging buffalo" logo, and a return to royal blue instead of navy.
Buffalo sporadically wore white at home in the 1980s, but stopped doing so before their Super Bowl years. On November 6, 2011, against the New York Jets, the Bills wore white at home for the first time since 1986. Since 2011, the Bills have worn white for a home game either with their primary uniform or a throwback set.
On November 12, 2015, the Bills and the New York Jets became the first two teams to participate in the NFL's Color Rush uniform initiative, with Buffalo wearing an all-red combination for the first time in team history.
War Memorial Stadium (affectionately known as The Rockpile) was an outdoor stadium in Buffalo, New York. It hosted minor league baseball and the Buffalo Bills of the American Football League (AFL), and later National Football League (NFL).
The stadium was on a rectangular block near the downtown area and its baseball diamond had an unorthodox southeast alignment (home plate to center field). The main entrance was in the left field corner at Jefferson Avenue to the east and Best Street to the south (behind right field). Its other boundaries were Dodge Street to the north (behind third base) and Masten Park to the west (behind first base) with Masten Avenue farther west. The east-west alignment of the football field was also unorthodox, running along the third base line. The elevation at street level is approximately 650 feet (200 m) above sea level.
War Memorial Stadium was built as a WPA project in 1937. It was originally named Roesch Memorial Stadium, though the name was changed to Grover Cleveland Stadium later in 1937 (honoring the former President and Buffalo public official) and then to Civic Stadium in 1938. The name was changed to War Memorial Stadium in 1960.
The stadium originally sat 35,000, but expansions raised the capacity to over 46,500. Despite this, by the time of the AFL–NFL merger in 1970, it was one of the league's smallest stadiums (below the league's new 50,000-seat minimum). After considering and rejecting a move to Seattle, the Bills left after the 1972 season for Rich Stadium (now New Era Field) in suburban Orchard Park, which had a capacity of over 80,000 in 1973.
In its later years, War Memorial Stadium was poorly maintained. Ron Fimrite, writing in Sports Illustrated in 1984, quoted another writer, Brock Yates, as having once said this stadium "looks as if whatever war it was a memorial to had been fought within its confines." That look contributed to the oft-used nickname Buffalo residents gave it: The Rockpile. Ironically, that worn-down look worked perfectly for the 1984 film The Natural, about which Fimrite was writing. All of the baseball scenes in that movie were filmed here in 1983, except for the one scene set at Chicago's Wrigley Field, which was filmed at Buffalo's All-High Stadium. The movie was set in the late 1930s, when the stadium was new.
The stadium was deemed unsuitable for National Football League play after the AFL–NFL merger. As part of a deal with Congress clearing the way for the merger, the NFL declared stadiums seating fewer than 50,000 people were not suitable for league needs. War Memorial Stadium only seated 46,500 people at its height, and could not be expanded. This led to the Bills constructing Rich Stadium in suburban Orchard Park and vacating War Memorial Stadium after the 1972 season.
New Era Field, originally Rich Stadium and later Ralph Wilson Stadium, is a stadium in Orchard Park, New York, a suburb south of Buffalo. Opened in 1973, it is the home of the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League (NFL). The stadium was renamed in 1998 for team founder and then-owner Ralph Wilson (1918–2014).
In early 1971, owner Ralph Wilson was exploring options to relocate the team, possibly to Seattle, with other cities such as Memphis and Tampa soon expressing interest as well. The potential loss of the team hastened the stadium project and Rich Stadium opened in 1973. The location and construction of the stadium in Erie County were the source of years of litigation, which ended with a financial settlement for a developer who had planned to erect a domed stadium in Lancaster. However, plans changed because it was not wanted to be close to Lancaster High School. The stadium was ultimately built by Frank Schoenle and his construction company. Stadium bonds were approved by the county legislature in September 1971.
Rich Products, a Buffalo-based food products company, signed a 25-year, $1.5 million deal ($60,000 per year), by which the venue would be called "Rich Stadium"; one of the earliest examples of the sale of naming rights in North American sports. (The name was somewhat of a compromise, after Bills owner and founder Ralph Wilson rejected the name Rich wanted to use, "Coffee Rich Park.") By a vote of 16 to 4, the county legislature approved the name in November 1972, despite a matching offer from Wilson to name it "Buffalo Bills Stadium."
When the Bills organization regularly referred to the stadium without the "Rich" name, Rich Products brought a $7.5 million lawsuit against the team in 1976. After the original deal expired after a quarter century in 1998, the stadium was renamed in honor of Wilson. Rich Products balked at paying a greatly increased rights fee, which would have brought the price up to par with other NFL stadiums.
It was announced on August 13, 2016, that local company New Era Cap Company and the Buffalo Bills reached an agreement for naming rights. The Bills and New Era officially announced the stadium's new name of New Era Field five days later, on August 18, 2016.
The first NFL playoff game at the stadium came in the 1988 season, a 17–10 Bills victory over the Houston Oilers on January 1, 1989. The Bills won every ensuing playoff game at the stadium until they were defeated in 1996 by the Jacksonville Jaguars on December 28.
From New Era Field's opening until the end of the 2016 NFL season, the Bills have defeated each of the 31 other teams there at least once and are unbeaten there against the following teams: Arizona Cardinals (4-0), Baltimore Ravens (2-0), Green Bay Packers (6-0), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0).
The Bills were not the first professional football team to play in Buffalo, nor was it the first NFL team in the region. Professional football had been played in Buffalo and in upstate New York since the beginning of the 20th century. In 1915, Barney Lepper's "Buffalo All-Stars" were founded; the team would later be replaced by the Niagaras in 1918, then the Prospects in 1919. The Prospects were the basis of what would become the "Buffalo All-Americans," who joined what would become the NFL in 1920. After changing their name to the Bisons in 1924 (and, for one season, the Rangers in 1926), the team suspended operations in 1927, then came back in 1929 and re-folded at the end of that season.
After Buffalo hosted two NFL games in 1938 (a practice that would become a semi-regular occurrence in the city until the current team's arrival), the third American Football League installed the Buffalo Indians in the city; the Indians played two years before the league suspended and ultimately folded due to World War II. After the war, when the All-America Football Conference formed, Buffalo was again selected for a team; originally known as the Buffalo Bisons, the same name as a baseball team and (at the time) a hockey team in the area, the team sought a new identity and named itself the "Buffalo Bills" in 1947. When the AAFC merged with the NFL in 1950, the AAFC Bills were merged into the Cleveland Browns. Though there was no connection between the AAFC team and the current team, the Bills name proved popular enough that it was used as the namesake for the future American Football League team that would form in 1959.
When Lamar Hunt announced formation of the American Football League in the summer of 1959, Buffalo was one of the target cities Hunt sought. His first choice of owner, however, turned him down; Pat McGroder (then a liquor store owner and sports liaison with the city of Buffalo) was still hopeful that the threat of the AFL would prompt the NFL to come back to Buffalo to try and stop the AFL from gaining a foothold there (as the NFL would do with teams in Minnesota, Dallas, St. Louis and later Atlanta). McGroder's hopes never came to fruition, and in 1961, he took a position in the new Bills organization.
Harry Wismer, who was to own the Titans of New York franchise, reached out to insurance salesman and automobile heir Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. to see if he was interested in joining the upstart league. (Both Wismer and Wilson were minority owners of NFL franchises at the time: Wilson part-owned the Detroit Lions, while Wismer was a small partner in the Washington Redskins but had little power due to majority owner George Preston Marshall's near-iron fist over the team and the league). Wilson agreed to field a team in the new league, with the words "Count me in. I'll take a franchise anywhere you suggest." Hunt gave him the choice of six cities: Miami, Buffalo, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Atlanta, or Louisville, Kentucky. Wilson's first choice was Miami, but city officials there were wary of an upstart league after the failure of the Miami Seahawks over a decade prior and rejected the idea. (Once the AFL established itself, the city reversed its stance and allowed the Miami Dolphins to reside in the city.) In WWII, Ralph Wilson served aboard a Minesweeper, the YMS-29, serving in the Mediterranean. Wilson was an Executive officer to the ship's Captain, Buffalo native George E. Schaaf. Wilson remembered the Buffalo team in the old NFL and remembered his old ship's Captain was from Buffalo. Ralph Wilson reached out to the General Construction Contractor, George E. Schaaf who still resided there. Schaaf assured Wilson that pro-football interest was significant in Buffalo and assembled a coalition of key Buffalo figures who were able to interest Wilson in bringing the AFL franchise to Buffalo. Their efforts to lobby Wilson to come to Buffalo were successful, and Wilson sent Hunt a telegram with the now-famous words, "Count me in with Buffalo."
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 AAFC Buffalo Bills, the former All-America Football Conference team in Buffalo. The AAFC Bills franchise was named after the Buffalo Bills a popular barbershop quartet, whose name was a play on the name of the famed Wild West showman Buffalo Bill Cody. The franchises are not officially related, other than in name, to each other.
After an inaugural season that saw the Bills finish 5–8–1 (third in the four-team AFL East Division), the Bills gained four of the first five picks in the 1961 AFL draft, including the top slot, which they used to draft offensive tackle Ken Rice. They also drafted guard Billy Shaw in the same draft. Success did not come overnight. On August 8, 1961, the Bills became the first (and only) American Football League team to play a Canadian Football League team, the nearby Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Because of that game, they also hold the dubious distinction of being the only current NFL team to have ever lost to a CFL team, as the Tiger-Cats won, 38–21. Hamilton was one of the best teams in the CFL (they would go on to win the Big Four title but lose in the 49th Grey Cup that year), and Buffalo, at the time, was the worst team in the AFL.
In the 1962 offseason, Buffalo began to get good players for the first time in franchise history. Jack Kemp was acquired off waivers from the San Diego Chargers after the Chargers thought Kemp, who had led the Chargers to back-to-back AFL title games, had a bum hand. The Bills also drafted Syracuse running back phenomenon Ernie Davis and had a serious chance of getting him to play for Buffalo after the Redskins, a team Davis refused to play for, drafted him; however, Davis instead opted to play for the NFL after the Redskins traded him to Cleveland, and he died of leukemia before playing a single down of professional football. Instead, the Bills then acquired one of the CFL's top running backs, Cookie Gilchrist.
Offensive lineman Bob Kalsu quit the team after his 1968 rookie season to serve in the Vietnam War. He never returned; Kalsu was killed in action in 1970 and is often cited by Bills fans as the first professional football player to die in action in war during his playing career. This is not true, as Young Bussey and Jack Lummus were still of playing age when they left the NFL to serve in World War II and were killed in action a few years later. Kalsu would be the only NFL player to lose his life in Vietnam.
The 1968 season was a tumultuous one. With starter Jack Kemp injured, Buffalo resorted to converting wide receiver Ed Rutkowski to quarterback in a rotation with Rutkowski, Kay Stephenson and Dan Darragh. The result was disastrous, and the Bills once again dropped to last in the league, resulting in the Bills earning the first overall draft pick in what was now the combined AFL-NFL draft. The Bills selected O. J. Simpson with their pick.
Before the 1969 season, the Bills drafted running back O. J. Simpson, who would become the face of the franchise through the 1970s. The NFL-AFL merger placed Buffalo in the AFC East division with the Patriots, Dolphins, Jets, and Colts. Their first season in the NFL saw the team win only three games, lose ten, and tie one. 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. They thus obtained the #1 draft pick for 1972, which was Notre Dame DE Walt Patulski. Despite good on-field performances, he struggled with injuries before being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1976. Lou Saban, who had coached the Bills' AFL championship teams, was re-hired in 1972, in which the team finished 4–9–1.
Meanwhile, War Memorial Stadium was in severe need of replacement, being in poor condition, located in an increasingly worsening neighborhood, and too small to meet the NFL's post-1969 requirement that all stadiums seat at least 50,000. Construction began on a new stadium in the suburbs after Ralph Wilson threatened to move the team to another city; at one point after the 1970 season Wilson was “prepared to move the team” to Husky Stadium in Seattle and was also fielding offers from Tampa and Memphis. Western New York leaders acquiesced to Wilson's demands and built a new open-air facility that featured a capacity of over 80,000 (at Wilson's request) and, unlike other stadiums, was built into the ground. Rich Stadium (now New Era Field) opened in 1973 and continues to house the Bills to this day.
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 with eight wins. 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 electricity for the "Juice". O.J. became the only player to rush for 2,000 yards prior to the introduction of a 16-game season. The team made the NFL playoffs at 9–5 for the first time in history in 1974, but in their divisional playoff, they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After an 8–6 1975 season, the Bills had internal troubles in 1976; Ferguson was injured and Gary Marangi proved ineffective in replacement. The team dropped to the bottom of the AFC East at 2–12, where they stayed for the rest of the 1970s. On a high note, the 1976 Thanksgiving Day game saw Simpson set the league record for rushing yards in a game, despite a 27–14 loss to the Detroit Lions. After the 1977 season, Simpson was traded to the San Francisco 49ers.
1980 marked the 3rd year the Bills were good. They beat the archrival Miami Dolphins for the first time in 11 years in their season opener, en route to an 11-5 season and their first AFC East title. However, they lost to the San Diego Chargers 20-14 in the divisional playoffs. In 1981, the Bills made the playoffs as a wild-card team with a 10-6 record. They defeated the New York Jets 31-27 in the wild card round of the playoffs, but lost in the divisional round to the eventual AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals, 28-21. The following year — the strike-shortened season of 1982 — the Bills slipped to a 4–5 final record and missed the playoffs.
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. Chuck Knox left his coaching position to take a job with the Seattle Seahawks, and running back Joe Cribbs also defected to the USFL, a loss incoming head coach Kay Stephenson unsuccessfully attempted to stop in court. In 1984 and 1985, the Bills went 2–14. By this point, attendance at Rich Stadium had fallen to under 30,000 fans per game for most of the 1985 season, leaving the team's long-term future in doubt.
Among the names that Buffalo picked up after the USFL's demise were general manager Bill Polian, head coach Marv Levy (both from the Chicago Blitz), special teams coach Bruce DeHaven, starting quarterback Jim Kelly (of the Houston Gamblers), center Kent Hull (of the New Jersey Generals), and linebacker Ray Bentley (of the Oakland Invaders), all of whom joined the Bills for the 1986 season. Midway through the 1986 season, the Bills fired coach Hank Bullough and replaced him with Levy, who in addition to the Blitz had also previously coached the Kansas City Chiefs and Montreal Alouettes. Levy and 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 Hull along with Jim Ritcher, Will Wolford and Howard "House" 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 a 17-10 victory over the Houston Oilers in the divisional playoff, they lost the AFC championship 21-10 to the Cincinnati Bengals.
1989 was a relative disappointment, with a 9–7 record and a divisional playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns. The Bills had a chance to win the game as time was running out, but Ronnie Harmon dropped a Kelly pass in the corner of the end zone. During this season, the Bills were called the "Bickering Bills" by the fans and media due to significant infighting among the players and coaches throughout the season.
In 1990, the Bills switched to a no huddle, hurry-up offense (frequently with Kelly in the shotgun formation, the "K-gun", named for tight-end Keith McKeller), and it led the Bills' offense to one of the best in the league; their 428 points (26.75 points per game) scored was first in the league. The team finished 13–3, and behind their no-huddle attack, beat the Miami Dolphins 44-34 and blew out the Los Angeles Raiders 51–3 in the playoffs on their way to Super Bowl XXV. The Bills were favorites to beat the New York Giants (whom they had beaten on the road during the regular season), but the defensive plan laid out by Giants coach Bill Parcells and defensive coordinator Bill Belichick kept Buffalo in check (and without the ball) for much of 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 kick sailed wide right, less than a yard outside of the goalpost upright.
The Bills won their fourth consecutive AFC East title in 1991, finishing 13–3 again and with Thurman Thomas winning a couple of awards. In the playoffs, they routed the Kansas City Chiefs 37-14 in the divisional round and beat the Denver Broncos in a defensive struggle, 10-7, 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 17–0 halftime lead and never looked back, handing the Bills a 37–24 loss. Early in that game, Thurman Thomas lost his helmet and had to sit out the first two plays, making the Bills the butt of jokes nationwide.
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. But the Bills rallied behind Reich, taking the lead late in the 4th quarter and winning the game in overtime 41-38. The 35-3 deficit remains, to this day, the largest deficit (32 points) overcome to win a game in NFL history. Buffalo then defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-3 in the divisional playoff and upset the archrival Dolphins 29-10 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 a Super Bowl-record 9 turnovers en route to a 52–17 loss, becoming the first team in NFL history to lose three consecutive Super Bowls. 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-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 to get to Lett, to knock it out of his hand. The play resulted in a touchback, not a touchdown, thus stopping Dallas from breaking the record for most points scored by a team in a Super Bowl (55), which was set three years earlier and is still held today by the San Francisco 49ers.
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 in this game became the first team to face the same team in 2 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, with Super Bowl MVP Emmitt Smith taking over the rest of the game for the Cowboys and the Bills were stunned again, 30–13.
The four consecutive failures to win the title game, despite a 14–2 regular-season record against the NFC, inspired many jokes. Steve Tasker recalled that when he made motivational speeches to groups of children, "invariably, some little guy raises his hand. He goes, 'Do you know what Bills stands for?' and I've heard it a hundred times. I go, 'No, what?' He goes 'Boy, I Love Losing Super Bowls'." A player denounced the team's poor reputation: "They still consider us losers. That is the most unfair statement that I've ever seen or heard or read in my life". Andrea Kremer recalled, however, that "I don't think there's any doubt that America, that the national fan base, turned their back on the Bills. They're just tired of it". 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. During this period Tasker established himself year in and year out as the league's top special teams performer.
In 1995, Buffalo signed free agent linebacker Bryce Paup to anchor the defense. The expansion Carolina Panthers ended up selecting several key Bills contributors (backup quarterback Frank Reich, wide receiver Don Beebe and tight end Pete Metzelaars) in the expansion draft, where they formed the core of that team's inaugural roster.
The Bills 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; the Bills won against the Patriots in September, then in late October the Patriots won after three touchdowns were scored in the final 85 seconds. The Bills still made the playoffs as the Wild Card home team; they became the first victim of the cinderella Jacksonville Jaguars, the first (and as of the present only) visiting team ever to win a playoff game at Rich Stadium. Jim Kelly retired after the season after the Bills management told him they were moving in a new direction and wanted him to help develop a younger QB to take over, 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, when his replacement Todd Collins faltered and the Bills stumbled to 6–10. Coach Marv Levy retired after the season.
The Bills, under new coach Wade Phillips signed 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 was for Jaguars backup Rob Johnson and the latter was former Heisman Trophy winner and Canadian Football League star 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 0-3, 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.
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 was close to an illegal forward lateral, replays were ruled inconclusive and the call on the field was upheld as a touchdown. The Titans went on to advance to the Super Bowl. As of 2017, this was the Bills last playoff appearance.
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, among many other Bills contributors. 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.
In 2001, following the departure of John Butler, team owner Ralph Wilson announced his retirement as president of the organization and handed the reins of his franchise to Tom Donahoe, a former executive with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The move turned out to be disastrous. Donahoe (just a year after the team had released three eventual Hall of Famers in a salary cap move) proceeded to gut the franchise of most of its remaining recognizable talent and replaced it with young, inexperienced, unknown lower-end players, much of which joined Butler in San Diego that year, and installed Rob Johnson as the starting quarterback. The team went from playoff contenders to a 31–49 record during Donahoe's five-year tenure. The Bills still have not made it to the playoffs since Donahoe's arrival, even after his departure.
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, who joined the Bills days before the 2003 season began, 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, play-by-play announcer Van Miller immediately announced his retirement as of the end of the season, expecting the team to have a shot at the title. However, 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. Unfortunately, Losman broke his leg in the pre-season and missed most of the regular season, seeing very limited action.
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. 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 (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 to give the Bills a second deep threat, sparked the Bills to go 9–2 in their next eleven 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 and devastating the fans, the late season surge gave the team a positive direction to approach 2005.
After the season, wanting to go in a younger direction and unhappy with Drew Bledsoe's overall performance, the Bills decided to hand the starting quarterback reins to J. P. Losman. This angered Bledsoe, who demanded his release, which the Bills granted. Bledsoe then signed with the Dallas Cowboys, reuniting him with his former New England Patriots coach Bill Parcells.
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.
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 Hargrove and Kyle Williams to the defensive corps while 2007 brought in Trent Edwards to quarterback the offense, rookie first-round draft pick Marshawn Lynch, second-round pick Paul Posluszny, offensive linemen Derrick Dockery and Langston Walker, and backup running back Fred Jackson. J. P. Losman played 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. Offensive line coach Jim McNally retired shortly after the end of the season. All of those positions were filled from within, with Turk Schonert promoted to offensive coordinator.
One of the most notable moves in the league occurred during the 2008 offseason, when league officials approved an October 2007 proposal by Bills owner Ralph Wilson to lease his team to Canadian media mogul Edward S. "Ted" Rogers, Jr. to play an annual regular season game and a biennial preseason game in Toronto, Ontario, Canada's Rogers Centre over the next five years, in exchange for a sum of C$78,000,000 cash. The games began during the 2008 season. Notable additions to the roster for 2008 include linebacker Kawika Mitchell, acquired as a free agent from the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, and defensive tackle Marcus Stroud, in addition to draft picks, cornerback Leodis McKelvin and wide receiver James Hardy. The Bills started extremely well that season, starting out with a 5–1 record before their bye week and showing promise in Trent Edwards as finally being a capable quarterback for the Bills. However, Edwards suffered a concussion from a huge hit in a game against the Arizona Cardinals. The team then went 2–8 in their last games, earning them another 7–9 record, which then resulted in the longest active streak of missed playoffs at the time.
On March 7, 2009 the Buffalo Bills made a major splash in the free agency market when it acquired veteran wide receiver Terrell Owens, who had recently been released by the Dallas Cowboys and is known as much for his elaborate touchdown celebrations as he is for his on-the-field play. Owens was signed to a one-year deal. In addition, former starting quarterback J. P. Losman, by this point relegated to third string behind Trent Edwards and Gibran Hamdan, was allowed to become a free agent. In the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft, the Bills selected defensive end/linebacker Aaron Maybin from Penn State with the 11th overall pick and center Eric Wood of Louisville with the 28th overall pick. Buffalo also selected free safety Jarius Byrd of Oregon, guard Andy Levitre of Oregon State, tight end Shawn Nelson of Southern Mississippi, and cornerbacks Cary Harris of USC and Ellis Lankster of West Virginia. As the season began, Terrell Owens proved to disappoint for most of the season, and the offensive line suffered from severe turnover, leading the team to stumble to a 3–6 start, after which the Bills fired head coach Dick Jauron midseason. Overall, Owens' stats for 2009 were modest: 829 yards and five TDs. The season opener against New England was a loss, although Buffalo's morale was raised by the fact that it was only by a single point. Other notable games included a 16–13 OT victory over the Jets in Week 6, and the Week 10 game against Tennessee, where that team's owner Bud Adams made an obscene gesture at Bills fans and was fined $250,000. The Week 13 game against the Jets was an international series match held across the border in Toronto. In Week 15, the Bills hosted New England, but despite optimistic predictions, fell 17–10, marking the fifth season in a row where they lost both matches against the Patriots. This completely eliminated Buffalo from playoff contention and marked their tenth consecutive season without a playoff appearance. On the season ender, they "routed" the 14–1 Indianapolis Colts 30–7 to end the year at 6–10, however, it should be noted that Peyton Manning was benched early due to this being a meaningless game for the playoff bound Colts. Quarterback Trent Edwards battled injury throughout the whole season, splitting games with back-up Ryan Fitzpatrick, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bills were hit with another hard blow when star running back Marshawn Lynch was given a three-game suspension by Commissioner Goodell for pleading guilty to misdemeanor weapons charges. Though back-up running back Fred Jackson did quite well in Lynch's absence, his performance then hindered on Lynch's return but he still had a 1,000-yard rushing season. However, the performance of free Safety Jarius Byrd showed extreme promise as Byrd led the NFL with 9 interceptions and was selected to the 2009 Pro Bowl.
Buddy Nix, a former assistant general manager of the San Diego Chargers, was named general manager in the final week of the 2009 season. One of his first personnel moves was to cut ties with Owens (ironically, a man he had recruited during his time in college football).
On January 20, the team named Chan Gailey as head coach. Gailey was previously the offensive coordinator of Kansas City and head coach of Georgia Tech and the Dallas Cowboys, going 8–0 in the division in 1998, and leading the team to the postseason in both 1998 and 1999.
With the expiration of Terrell Owens' contract in March 2010, the Bills chose not to re-sign him.
As 2010 began, the Bills lost to Miami at home. After going 0–4, the Bills released Trent Edwards and named Ryan Fitzpatrick starting quarterback. Despite some close games, they ended up at an 0–8 record before beating Detroit at home in Week 10. Then came a 49–31 win in Cincinnati and an OT loss to Pittsburgh. The team finished 2010 with a 4–12 record.
The Bills fired Tom Modrak, one of the last connections to the Donahoe era, shortly after the 2011 NFL Draft. As a result of the Bills' poor play in 2010, the team earned the third overall selection in said draft, using it to select defensive tackle Marcell Dareus in an effort to improve the team's long-struggling run defense.
Buffalo had an excellent start to 2011, routing Kansas City 41–7. The following week, they hosted Oakland and erased a 21-3 deficit, winning 38–35. In week 3, the Bills hosted the Patriots; they erased a 21-0 Patriots lead and led 31-24 in the fourth; a late Tom Brady touchdown tied the game, but the Bills whipped into range of a last second field goal. The 34-31 win ended a 15-game franchise losing streak spanning 8 years to the Patriots. Despite starting the 2011 season with a 5–2 record, leading the AFC East for several weeks, a wave of injuries to several key starters led to the Bills compiling a 7-game losing streak, pushing the team out of playoff contention for the twelfth straight year. The losing streak was finally broken with a defeat of the Tim Tebow-led Denver Broncos on Christmas Eve, in a game that had unusually poor attendance.
On December 21, 2012 Team CEO Russ Brandon, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced a new 10-year lease for Ralph Wilson Stadium. Included in the terms are $130 million in renovations and a $400 million buyout to move the team out of Buffalo (in addition to the NFL re-locating fee). The lease will include the team paying for part of the renovations for the first time. The deal also calls for a committee to explore building a new stadium in the Buffalo vicinity, a proposal the Pegulas have put on hold.
Following another disappointing season in 2012 where the Bills went 6-10, the Buffalo Bills relieved Chan Gailey and his entire coaching staff of their duties.
On January 1, 2013 it was announced that Ralph Wilson had "passed the torch" to Russ Brandon, and that he would have complete control of football operations. He then served as CEO and President of the team.
Early during the morning on January 6, 2013 it was reported by Adam Schefter that the Buffalo Bills had hired Doug Marrone as their new head coach.
In the 2013 NFL Draft the Bills traded back from their 8th pick to the 16th pick and selected quarterback E. J. Manuel out of Florida State. Olympic sprinter Marquise Goodwin and linebacker Kiko Alonso were among the other notable players chosen in the 2013 draft. After the draft, Nix announced his resignation; Doug Whaley moved into the general manager position. A knee injury to Manuel almost forced the team to start undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel as their opening day starting quarterback; Manuel nonetheless recovered in time to start week 1 only to injure his other knee a few weeks later, which resulted in the signing of Thad Lewis (who himself had started a game as an undrafted rookie the previous year with the Cleveland Browns). The Bills finished yet again 6-10 and missed the playoffs for the 14th consecutive season.
Owner Ralph Wilson died March 25, 2014, at the age of 95. Wilson's assets, including the team, were placed into a trust governed by four members: Wilson's widow, Mary Wilson; his niece, Mary Owen; Jeff Littman, the Bills' chief financial officer; and Eugene Driker, an attorney. The trust sold the team to Buffalo Sabres owner Terrence Pegula, along with his wife Kim, reportedly for $1.4 billion in cash, which the Wilson trust intends to use as an endowment for charitable causes in Western New York (and Wilson's hometown of Detroit); Pegula outbid two other parties, a Toronto-based consortium led by Jon Bon Jovi and a stalking horse bid from Donald Trump (the latter's failure was a major factor in Trump's decision to run for President the next year), to secure the team. The deal closed October 10, 2014.
The Bills finished the 2014 season with a 9–7 record, which broke a league-leading streak of nine consecutive losing seasons. However, they were eliminated from playoff contention after a loss to the Oakland Raiders in the second to last week of the season, which extended their league-leading playoff drought to fifteen seasons. The starting quarterback for most of the 2014 season was Kyle Orton, a last-minute signing who was named starter a month into the regular season. Orton announced his retirement the Monday following the conclusion of the season.
The 2015 season was the first full season for the Bills under the Pegula Family's ownership. On December 31, 2014 Doug Marrone chose to opt out of his contract with the Bills. He asked for a contract extension, but his request was denied by Mr. Pegula. On January 11, 2015 it was reported that Rex Ryan, who had recently been fired from his head coaching job with the New York Jets, would become the next head coach. Ryan was officially named the new head coach the next day, January 12, 2015. The day after that, January 13, 2015, it was announced that defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz would not be returning for the 2015 season. The team dramatically overhauled its offense in the offseason, bringing in a number of new starters: quarterback Tyrod Taylor, running back LeSean McCoy, fullback Jerome Felton, wide receiver Percy Harvin and tight end Charles Clay.
The Bills set a franchise record for season ticket sales for the 2015 season with more than 60,000 season tickets sold, a franchise record. The Rex Ryan hiring has been linked to the high increase in sales. The Bills opened the 2015 season with a 24-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts, but faltered (despite an unsuccessful late-game comeback) against traditional nemesis New England. Through the first quarter of the season the Bills led the NFL in penalties heading into their Week 5 game against the Tennessee Titans. After being flagged 17 times in Week 4 against the New York Giants, the Bills were penalized only seven times in their 14-13 victory over the Titans. In the end, the Bills finished a middling 8-8, missing the playoffs for the 16th consecutive season, the longest active streak in major professional sport (after the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays broke their then-22-year streak).
In 2016 Kathryn Smith became the first woman to be a full-time coach in the NFL, when she was hired by the Bills as a special teams quality control coach. The start of the 2016 season was marred by long-term injuries to both of the team's top draft picks, first-rounder Shaq Lawson and second-rounder Reggie Ragland (who will miss his entire rookie season). On December 27, 2016, Rex Ryan was fired after compiling 15-16 record in 2 seasons along with his brother Rob which made the Bills the third team in the NFL to fire a coach in-season (along with the Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars who both fired Jeff Fisher and Gus Bradley), Anthony Lynn was promoted to interim coach.After winning four straight games from weeks 3-6, they only won three more games to finish 7-9.
On January 11, 2017, Sean McDermott was hired as the head coach of the Buffalo Bills. McDermott had previously spent the past six seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers.
As of 2016, the Buffalo Bills are the only team in the National Football League to have not yet made the playoffs in the 21st century. Heading into that season, the playoff drought stands at 16 seasons, the longest active droughts in the league (the Bills' streak of nine consecutive losing seasons, also a high among active streaks, was broken in 2014). In addition, the Bills have suffered attendance problems at Ralph Wilson Stadium, particularly in the later portions of the season, when Buffalo's weather declines and the team usually falls out of playoff contention. Of the fourteen home games at Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2010 and 2011, six were blacked out due to the failure to sell out, and a seventh very narrowly avoided the same fate. Christmas Eve games in 2006 and 2011 were particularly poorly attended, with only 45,000 in attendance at the 2011 contest, an estimated half of which were fans of the opposing team. The attendance problems have largely been mitigated since the arrival of Ryan and the Pegulas.
Buffalo's rivalry with the Miami Dolphins is referenced on Steve Martin's 1979 album Comedy Is Not Pretty! on the track "How To Meet A Girl." On the track, Martin simulates chatter about football at a party, and one "partier" expresses disbelief that Buffalo could beat Miami – at the time of the album's release, the Dolphins had won 18 straight games over the Bills.
In the 1996 X-Files episode "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man", the titular character, a member of a shadowy government cabal, states that the Buffalo Bills will not win a Super Bowl while he lives.
The Buffalo Bills were featured on the direct-to-TV movie Second String, and in the Vincent Gallo drama Buffalo 66.
Actor Dean Cain was briefly a member of the Bills. Because of this, references to the Bills have appeared in the television series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, in which Cain played the title character. In the first episode of season four, titled "Lord of the Flys", Clark picks up a blue Buffalo Bills hat with the Charging Buffalo emblem in the center and uses it to help disguise himself. In a later episode, he lets it be known the Metropolis Mammoths are playing the Bills.
In an April 2011 episode of the television series 30 Rock, titled "100", Alec Baldwin's character Jack Donaghy discovers that, in an alternate future, he would not only be wealthier and more successful, but he would also be the owner of a "New York football team." He later is disappointed to learn the team is not the New York Giants or New York Jets, but the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills are the team that eventually unseats the Orlando Breakers, the fictional NFL team that serves as the focus of the sitcom Coach in later seasons, in the playoffs.
In a March 2014 episode of the television series Family Guy entitled "3 Acts of God", Peter Griffin—along with his family and friends—attends a game between the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, which the Bills win. The episode also features Bills players Mario Williams and C. J. Spiller guest starring as themselves.
Several former Buffalo Bills players have earned a name in politics after their playing careers had ended, almost always as members of the Republican Party. The most famous of these was quarterback Jack Kemp, who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Western New York in 1971—two years after his playing career ended and remained there for nearly two decades, serving as the Republican Party nominee for Vice President of the United States under Bob Dole in 1996. Kemp's backup, Ed Rutkowski, served as county executive of Erie County from 1979 to 1987. Former tight end Jay Riemersma, defensive tackle Fred Smerlas and defensive end Phil Hansen have all run for Congress, though all three either lost or withdrew from their respective races. Quarterback Jim Kelly and running back Thurman Thomas have also both been mentioned as potential candidates for political office, although both have declined all requests to date.
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