The Buffalo Bills – The First Decade In Pro Football

The Buffalo Bills came into professional football in 1960 as part of the newly formed American Football League, or AFL The Bills were established by owner Ralph Wilson, Jr. who would go on to own the team from 1960 until well into his 90’s. The city of Buffalo had experience with a number of professional football teams before, including a previous incarnation of the Bills in the All American Football Conference, and was hungry for a professional football team. The AFL and this new Bills team was exactly what they wanted, and what a treat it would be.

The Bills, like many new franchises, stumbled out of the gates. They finished their first season with a record of 5-8-1, improving to 6-8 in their second year. It didn’t take long for them to post a winning record though as they jumped to 7-6-1 in both 1962 and 1963. In fact that 1963 team made it to the playoffs, only to lose in the first round to the Boston Patriots by the score of 26-8.

1964 saw everything come together for the Bills as they put together a 12-2 season which culminated in a 20-7 AFL Championship Game win over the San Diego Chargers. They repeated the next season when they 10-3-1 and then defeated the Chargers in the Championship Game again, this time by the score of 23-0. The Bills returned to the Championship Game in 1966, this time after going 9-4-1. It went the other way this time as they lost 31-7 to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The latter half of the decade saw the team’s fortunes go back downhill. They went 4-10 in 1967, 1-12-1 in 1968, and then 4-10 again in 1969. The high point of 1969 was the team obtaining the services of future Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson. The future looked bright for the team as they entered the 1970’s and the American Football League came to and when it merged into the National Football League.

The Bills had a very successful decade during the 1960’s, winning two championships and making it to the AFL Championship Game three consecutive years. This was particularly amazing considering that in those ten years they did not have the most stable personnel. Seven different running backs would lead the team in rushing for a season, six different receivers would lead them in receiving during the decade, and five different quarterbacks would lead them in passing over those ten years. The team even had five different head coaches during that time. Yet they were able to pull it together, doing especially well over a specific three year span.

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