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Important dates in Bills history: How the Bills got their name


Important dates in Bills history presented by M&T bank helps fans understand what's important. Team names are important, and the Buffalo Bills nick name was certainly a big decision at the franchise's beginning.

After buying the team, President Ralph C. Wilson selected the name "Buffalo Bills" for his new AFL team, but the name originated long before Wilson chose it on November 30, 1959.

The Bills are not the first football team to represent the city of Buffalo (they are not even the first NFL team, for that matter. The Buffalo All-Americans were a charter organization of the NFL, but folded in 1929). Between the two NFL franchises, Buffalo was home to the professional football team the Buffalo Indians in the early 1940s. After the Indians, later renamed the Tigers, folded, the first Bills organization, an All-America Football Conference team, came to town. Those Bills were originally named the Bisons, but owner James Breuil, who also owned Frontier Oil Company, wanted to go all in on the frontier theme for his Buffalo holdings. He renamed the football team the Buffalo Bills after the Pony Express rider after running a contest that offered a $500 prize for the winning entry.

That winning entry was sent in by James F. Dyson whose essay compared the team to a band of "Buffalo Bills."

The AAFC collapsed after its 1949 season, but Wilson breathed new life into the name of the organization when he chose it for his own organization.

The original Buffalo Bill was one of the most colorful figures of the American Old West. In 1883, he began performing his own show, Buffalo Bill's Wild West, across the country. Buffalo Bill was an American scout who fought for the Union in the Civil War and served the U.S. Army in the Indian Wars. He received a medal of honor in 1972, and it is his name by which Buffalo's football team is recognized. Wilson gave the organization its lasting nickname at the very beginning, on November 30, 1959.

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