Buffalo Bills Season Ticket Member Edward (Ed) Brandt, has been a proud Bills fan as long as he can remember. A native of nearby Eden, N.Y., some of Brandt’s earliest and most unforgettable Bills memories date back to the old Rock Pile, where as a child he would go to watch his favorite team with his grandfather. For Brandt, attending Bills games has and always will be a family affair. A collector of all things Buffalo Bills, Brandt periodically peruses the NFL Auction website to bid on Bills team memorabilia. In a recent trip to the site, Brandt stumbled upon an item that holds a great deal of sentimental value – a one-of-a-kind buffalo statue with a history of its very own.
The life-like buffalo emerged in 2000 as part of the Herd about Buffalo project. The unique creation was one of a limited number of buffaloes that were painted by local artists and showcased around the city. This particular member of the herd was purchased by former Bills coach Wade Phillips as a gift for the franchise. For years the statue was displayed at New Era Field for fans to admire. Catching the attention of Brandt and his father on a warm Sunday in September, the duo couldn’t resist the photo opportunity.
“It was the New England season opener back about four or five years ago,” said Brandt. “We saw it and said ‘Hey we need to go get a picture of this,’ so my dad and I got our picture with what we’re now calling ‘Ralph’.”
Before he knew it, Brandt found himself in a bidding war to secure the unique piece of Bills history. Paying $1,050 for the item, Brandt was ecstatic to learn that he would inherit the Bills collectable and that the proceeds generated from the auction would be going to the Buffalo Bills Foundation.
“When I saw this I thought ‘Wow, there’s only one of these,’ and I remember when they had the Herd about Buffalo…so when I saw this I said this is perfect for any Bills fan,” said Brandt.
A current resident of Philadelphia, Brandt and his son made the familiar trek to New Era Field, where the statue was waiting. Driving through the night, the Brandts arrived on Wednesday morning to the ADPRO Sports Training Center where they were met by more than just the buffalo. Eager to meet the die-hard fans was Bills head coach Sean McDermott. Shaking hands and exchanging stories, the Brandts were thrilled to take a picture with Coach McDermott and their new friend ‘Ralph.’
Reflecting on the special moment, Brandt’s next move would be deciding where to put the statue. And just like everything else surrounding the Bills, the decision would be a family affair.
“Well, we’ve got three or four ideas,” said Brandt. “But the main thing is the Bills cave. I’ve got all sorts of Bills memorabilia from over the years, including some things from the ‘60s. We thought [about] designing a whole bar around it—my daughter is very creative so she is going to design one and sketch one out…So until we get him home and see where he is comfortable…we are going to have to play it by ear.”