By Tim Graham
The Bills Alumni Foundation has assembled a sensational weekend. Dozens of former Buffalo Bills and some of their notable opponents will gather for a fundraising gala at Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls, a tailgating party Sunday morning at Ralph Wilson Stadium and a golf tournament Monday.
One of the guests will be legendary Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson, with whom I spoke for a story that will run in Sunday's paper.
Since I had Dawson on the line, I asked him what comes to mind when he recalls playing the Bills back in the day.
"It was beautiful War Memorial Stadium," Dawson said.
You could almost see his eyes rolling through the phone.
"Of course, there weren't any good stadiums to speak of in those AFL days. The Cotton Bowl was the best of the lot, but that was like a private showing for five or six thousand people in a 75,000-seat stadium."
Dawson has vivid memories of the 1966 Bills team.
His Chiefs and the two-time-defending-champion Bills met for the AFL title at the Rockpile on Jan. 1, 1967. The score was tied at 7 after the first quarter, but the Chiefs scored the final 24 points and advanced to the first Super Bowl.
"They were a very good football team in 1966," Dawson said. "We were fortunate to beat them. We respected them a great deal."
One play in particular had Dawson chuckling.
"A block that I threw," he said. "Mike Garrett was supposed to run a sweep to the left. He went over there and stopped and came back to the right.
"Now, I'm there. I know I'm on film. So I'm going to block somebody and make it look good. There was the big defensive end, Ron McDole. He just swatted me like I was a fly, but I at least occupied him for enough time that Mike Garrett was able to run around him and score a touchdown."
Dawson and McDole can reminisce about that play this weekend. McDole is scheduled to attend the casino's VIP reception at 6 p.m. The tailgate party is from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday at the stadium. A celebrity golf tournament will take place Monday at Hickory Stick in Lewiston.
Also scheduled to appear are Hall of Famers Anthony Munoz, Elvin Bethea and Roger Wehrli and L.C. Greenwood and Albert Lewis.
Bills alumni are expected to include Al Bemiller, Mark Brammer, Ruben Brown, Butch Byrd, Steve Christie, Hilton Crawford, Joe Cribbs, Joe DeLamielleure, Booker Edgerson, Charley Ferguson, Joe Ferguson, Will Fowler, Tony Greene, Harry Jacobs, Ken Jones, Marlon Kerner, Joe Kulbacki, Daryle Lamonica, Frank Lewis, Adam Lingner, Reggie McKenzie, Paul Maguire, Mike McBath, Pete Mills, Jeff Nixon, Marlo Perry, Lou Piccone, Andre Reed, Ed Rutkowski, Kurt Schulz, Paul Seymour, Billy Shaw, Mike Stratton, David White, Chris Williams, Jeff Wright, Marlin Briscoe, Chris Keating, Paul Guidry, Ernie Warlick, Bob Schmidt, George Flint, Butch Rolle, Roland Hooks, J.D. Hill and Leonard Smith.
Thanks once again go to friend of the Press Coverage blog Jon Boutet of the Buffalo Sports Museum for this image of the 1966 AFL Championship Game program (50 cents) and ticket stub ($10).