Former Bills center Al Bemiller was immortalized into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame this past Wednesday at the organization's induction ceremony at the Buffalo Niagara convention center. Bemiller enters as one of 12 members of the hall of fame's 2015 class.
Bemiller was especially moved by his special recognition, saying that that the induction "means everything to him."
"What else can be any better than being honored like this?" he asked. "There's nothing that can be any better."
Bemiller spent 10 seasons (1961-1970) as the starting center for the Bills, a team that was still part of the American Football League when he was drafted. Bemiller was the anchor of an offensive line that led the way to the Bills 1964 and 1965 AFL championships. He recalls those two championships as the best memories from his playing days.
"Every one of those days, every one of those years were fantastic. Anything that a football player or an individual could ask for, it was fantastic," he said.
Bemiller is the eleventh Bill from the AFL era to be inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. He joins his former teammates Butch Byrd, Elbert Dubenion, Cookie Gilchrist, Harry Jacobs, Paul Maguire, George Saimes, Tom Sestak, Billy Shaw, Mike Stratton and Ernie Warlick.
While Bemiller jokes that he stayed in the Buffalo area primarily because he didn't make enough money to move anywhere else, he has been very active in and passionate about the community. After he retired from football, he maintained a popular night club in Hamburg, Al Bemiller's Turf Side, which he said only closed because of his unwillingness to embrace Disco.
"You couldn't get in the place. Seven nights a week, you couldn't get in the place, and Disco came in, and I wouldn't go Disco, and we went down the tubes," he said.
Besides tending to Turf Side, Bemiller also served as a substitute teacher, showing his passion for and his dedication to give back to the local community.
"I loved the kids," he said. "I loved the community. I loved the kids and I loved Buffalo. I loved everything I did. I was just fortunate enough—I don't know how—but I was just fortunate enough to be able to do that, and I loved it."
Bemiller, who is originally from Pennsylvania and who played college football at Syracuse, has proudly represented the city of Buffalo of 54 years. Now, he'll be forever immortalized by the Queen City.