Miami Dolphins want to know what AFC East rival “Bills” actually is
By Brian Miller
The Miami Dolphins are in the middle of Buffalo Bills week and many fans want to know exactly what a Buffalo “Bill” actually is. So we are going to tell you.
Many fans would have you believe that the Bills name is actually for Buffalo Bill Cody the “wild-west” gunslinger/hunter but that is not entirely true and the history of the Bills name is actually an almost hysterical trip down a sordid timeline that dates back to when no one actually wanted the Bills in Buffalo.
Dolphins fans love to pick on Bills and why shouldn’t they? Division rivals are going to go after each other every chance they get and the Buffalo Bills are no different, in fact, looking at the history of their name and franchise really drives home one big question…do they know where it came from?
The Bills were close to going to Toronto and being owned, in part, by Jon Bon Jovi but they really are lucky to even be in the NFL.
So what is this “Buffalo Bills” name thing?
For starters the Bills used to be the Bison. In the 1940’s lacking ideal creative thought, the city of Buffalo tended to name all of their sports teams the Bison. So the football owner James Breuil held a naming contest to rename the team. The “Bills” won and yes, it came from Buffalo Bill Cody the famous buffalo hunter. But here is where it gets funny. Wild Bill Cody never lived in Buffalo. In fact, he never lived in New York at all. He did live in Toronto for a short period of time (Jon Bon Jovi’s move would have made more sense).
Buffalo Bill Cody was born in Iowa and spent most of his life out west. But it gets funnier.
The city of Buffalo really doesn’t have a clue as to where their name came from either. Guess what? It wasn’t named for the buffalo. The city was actually called Buffalo Creek named after a creek that ran through the city. Not a river, not a stream, not a lake, but a creek.
There are three existing beliefs on where the name originated from. An indian tribe that had migrated to the area who had once hunted buffalo further west, and group of French explorers who “saw” buffalo out west, or possibly a colonizing British group who had once seen buffalo. But a new idea has surfaced in recent decades.
There was an English explorer who some now believe wrote “Buffalo Creek” in a journal mistaking elk bones for that of a buffalo which would make more sense because most northern “bison” were located further west on Lake Erie.
While the name of the “Bills” is fun to poke fun at, the team itself was one that nobody wanted to begin with. Originally part of the All American Football Conference, the “Bison” were one of four teams in that conference. Ironic they lost four Super Bowl’s in a row.
The AAFC lasted three seasons from 1946-49. The three other teams, the Browns, Colts, and 49’ers all became part of the NFL in 1950 when the AAFC folded and the NFL expanded. The funny part about this is that the Bills had more success than of the other three teams during the AAFC and when the NFL merged the teams into the NFL they only had 13 teams and opted to not include Buffalo to make the league even.
The city of Buffalo tried to protest by raising money and petitioning the league, they even pre-sold tickets and agreed to a new stadium. Needing a unanimous vote, the Bills fell short 9-4 and the NFL remained 13 teams and the city of Buffalo were left out.
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The Bills or Bison at that time were eventually invited to join a small league called the American Association League and eventually that became the AFL but again, it gets funny. The owner of the Bills declined and bought a share of the Browns instead and disbanded the Bills. The players, in 1950 were allocated throughout the leagues. A year later, the Colts, who got one of the spots in the NFL over the Bills, folded.
The Bills were never given a chance to rejoin the NFL but Baltimore who couldn’t support the Colts were given the Dallas Texans in 1953 and a free pass return to the NFL. Finally in 1959 Ralph Wilson, Jr. was awarded an AFL franchise and wouldn’t you know it, when the NFL and AFL merged in 1970, the Bills were allowed to stay and have been perennial losers almost every year since. Now they are finally relevant for the first time since the Jim Kelly/Marv Levy era…when they lost 4 Super Bowls in a row.
Now you know the history of the Buffalo Bills and why their name invokes snickers from their AFC East rivals. Want to know about their cheerleaders? The Buffalo Jills? The cheerleading squad was once contracted by the Bills from third-party providers. Including a company called Mighty Taco!
So the next time you have a Buffalo Bills fan giving you hell for being a Miami Dolphins fan, ask them where their name come from and then laugh because they won’t know or probably don’t want to.