Al Bemiller never played at Ralph Wilson Stadium, but he took the field this past Sunday before the Jets game as a Bills legend and the recipient of the prestigious Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Distinguished Service Award.
"As an athlete in any sport, to get an award like I just received is the greatest thing that could ever happen to me, especially coming from the owner," Bemiller said. "I was sort of shocked by it but I really appreciate it. Mr. Wilson has always been great to me and all of the players."
Chosen by and named for the Bills owner, the award recognizes Bills alum for their outstanding service to the team and organization during their time as a player and since then, as active members of the community and positive reflections of the core values of the Buffalo Bills. The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Distinguished Service Award was established and is awarded each year by the Monday Quarterback Club, a group of local business leaders.
"I think Mr. Wilson understands what we're doing and I suppose he is gratified that his former ballplayers get out and do this sort of thing for the community," Bemiller humbly reflected on why he feels he received the award. "That must make him feel really good about his organization."
As a versatile offensive lineman in Jack Kemp's offense, Bemiller started his Bills career as a rookie center, played right guard during the '64 and '65 AFL Championship seasons, and ended up playing every offensive line position over his long AFL career.
"When I graduated I didn't think I would even get called up for a professional team," he said. "When I was with Syracuse we were National Champions, but I still didn't think I'd get called. I came to Buffalo and loved it.
"I was lucky enough to be on the two championship teams that the Wilsons have ever had. Mr. Wilson took pride in every one of us and we felt it. It's a great thing."
Bemiller was undoubtedly chosen by the owner for both his leading role during the AFL Championship era and his consistently active leadership in the Bills Alumni Association. He didn't miss a single game during his nine years on the Bills, and for his consistency both on and off the field, Bemiller says he's incredibly proud to have been given the 2013 Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Distinguished Service Award.