Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Bon Jovi pursuing the Bills: As big as '80s hair or just a tease?

By Tim Graham

Jon Bon Jovi reportedly wants to buy the Buffalo Bills. Imagine all that hairspray in the owner's box. The team store would be unable to keep acid-wash jeans in stock.

And know this: He wouldn't laugh at your Zubaz.

But a Bon Jovi public-relations agent named Ken Sunshine, reached today by Associated Press reporter John Wawrow, called Sunday's reports "preposterous."

Regardless, Bon Jovi was a topic at One Bills Drive today.

Because there's no shortage of preposterous occurrences in the NFL.

"That's out there," Bills center Eric Wood said. "Of all the theories ... If Jim Kelly was going to buy the team or whoever, Bon Jovi probably is the most out there.

"But those rock stars accumulate a ton of money. Who knows? If he's big enough of a football fan, I'm sure he can assemble the money."

Bon Jovi is primary owner of the Philadelphia Soul in the Arena Football League and has ties to Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and Air Canada Centre.

Bills coach Doug Marrone was asked if he knew Bon Jovi, a friend of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Kansas University coach Charlie Weis.

"I'm from the Bronx," Marrone said. "I didn't grow up with special privileges.

"I'm just a football coach. I'm not a groupie."

Rep tells AP that rocker Bon Jovi is not pursuing Bills purchase

By Jay Skurski

A representative for Jon Bon Jovi today told the Associated Press that the singer would one day like to be an NFL owner, but that "it's preposterous to say he's had any discussions with the Bills and Erie County."

Los Angeles-based public relations consultant Ken Sunshine spoke with AP sports reporter John Wawrow, largely shooting down Sunday's report from CBS Sports that Bon Jovi is "among the parties positioning to purchase the Buffalo Bills when the team comes up for sale."

"The Bills are not for sale, and he has too much respect for Mr. Wilson to engage in any discussions of buying the team," Sunshine told Wawrow, referring to team owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr.

When reached via email by The Buffalo News early this afternoon, Sunshine declined further comment: "Sorry -- not doing anything further on this story."

Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods are back and other Bills notes

By Tim Graham

Some notes from the start of Buffalo Bills practice today in the field house:

Wide receivers Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods were on the field and appeared to be participating in all the drills for the portion of practice reporters are allowed to watch. Johnson (groin) missed the Bills last game. Woods (ankle) missed the past two.

"They looked good," Bills coach Doug Marrone said of Johnson and Woods. "They looked fresh."

Rookie cornerback Jonathan Meeks (ankle) was on the field today, the earliest he could return to practice since being placed on recallable injured reserve. The Bills can activate Meeks in two weeks.

Marrone said running back Ronnie Wingo wasn't at practice today because of a missed flight.

"He'll be fined," Marrone said.

The Bills signed tackle Manase Foketi to the practice squad and released guard Bryant Browning.

For the dreamers: Here's what would help Bills' playoff hopes today

By Jay Skurski

Will the final real playoff team in the AFC please stand up (please stand up, please stand up).

The sixth and final postseason spot in the American Football Conference is wide open, and even at 4-7, the Buffalo Bills are not out of the race. The Bills have, however, burned up pretty much all of their mulligans, and will likely be forced to win out when they return from the bye week -- along with needing some help. Here's a look at the race for the final playoff spot, and what Bills fans should be hoping for today.

    6. New York Jets (5-5) -- Hold the final playoff spot because of holding the tiebreaker over Miami based on record within division games.
    Today: at Baltimore, 1 p.m. Bills fans should be hoping for a Baltimore victory over New York, because the Bills hold the first tiebreaker over the Ravens, which is a head-to-head victory.
    7. Miami (5-5) -- vs. Carolina, 1 p.m. -- Bills fans should be all in on Cam Newton today.
    8. Oakland (4-6) -- vs. Tennessee, 4:05 p.m.
    9. Tennessee (4-6) -- at Oakland, 4:05 p.m. -- Oakland has the better conference record in this game, so that's one reason to consider pulling for Ryan Fitzpatrick.
    10. Pittsburgh (4-6) -- at Cleveland, 1 p.m.
    11. Baltimore (4-6) -- vs. New York Jets, 1 p.m.
    12. Cleveland (4-6) -- vs. Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. -- Tough one here. Both the Browns and Steelers have the first tiebreaker on the Bills.
    13. San Diego (4-6) -- at Kansas City, 1 p.m. -- Alex Smith and Co. should have Buffalo's support.
    14. Buffalo (4-7) -- BYE.

Assuming there are no ties, the Bills will lose ground to at least three teams based on today's matchups. As the standings show, there are a lot of teams between them and the sixth spot. In games where there is a clear rooting interest, however, Bills fans should be pulling for the Ravens, Panthers and Chiefs.

Chat replay: Inside the NFL with Mark Gaughan

Link: Charges filed against railing-slilding fan who fell at Ralph

By Mark Gaughan

In case you missed it - and because we realize not all sports fanatics scour the inside pages of the local section - here is the story in today's Buffalo News on the 28-year-old fan who fell out of the upper deck at Ralph Wilson Stadium ... and who lost his job as an art director at a major public-relations firm ... and who now faces criminal charges.


Criminal charges have been filed against the football fan who fell from the top deck of Ralph Wilson Stadium into the stands below during Sunday’s Buffalo Bills game.

The Erie County Sheriff’s Office announced charges Wednesday evening against a man the office identified as Robert A. Hopkins, 28, of Cobb Alley, Lackawanna.

The announcement said Hopkins was arrested “for his actions involving sliding down a handrail in the 300 level of Ralph Wilson Stadium.”

Sheriff Timothy B. Howard’s office said Hopkins “was charged with assault in the third degree, a class A misdemeanor, and reckless endangerment in the second degree, also a class A misdemeanor.”

The Sheriff’s Office said in a prepared statement that Hopkins “is set to be arraigned on the charges on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, at 4 in Orchard Park Town Court.”

The statement added, “There will be no further comment from the Erie County Sheriff’s Office on this case at this time.”

One source close to the investigation said, however, “We don’t think it was intentional. It was reckless what he did.”

The Bills on Monday banned Hopkins from Ralph Wilson Stadium as a result of the incident. Hopkins also lost his job in advertising and public relations with Eric Mower + Associates.

Hopkins could be seen sliding in a seated position down a railing in the 300 level during the game against the New York Jets and then toppling backward and falling 20 to 25 feet into the 200 section. Authorities said he landed on another fan.

The Sheriff’s Office said Hopkins “landed on and injured a 29 year old fan in the 200 level of the stadium.”

Both men were taken to a hospital and later released.

The man who fell hurt his shoulder, while officials said the man he struck suffered a head and/or neck injury.

The incident apparently was recorded by network television cameras. Video posted on several websites shows the indistinct figure of a man sliding on the railing, then tipping over the side.

Officials said the Bills have clearer video of the incident.

Marrone sees 'the rookie wall' as a thing of the past

By Mark Gaughan

The Bills are 11 weeks into their season. Rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso has played all 787 defensive snaps. Rookie receiver Robert Woods has played 614 snaps, which was 76 percent of the offensive plays before he missed the last two weeks.

Bills coach Doug Marrone is not worried about the proverbial "rookie wall," which can cause rookies to slow down the last month of the season due to the fact the NFL season is longer than the college season.

"I did when I was in the league," said Marrone, referring to his stint in New Orleans, which ended in 2008. "I’ve been out obviously for four years. And coming back I don’t see it as much now. I think practices have changed. The last time I was in the league, we had a couple rookies starting for us in New Orleans and we went to the playoffs. We really made a conscious effort to make sure those guys didn’t do that. Nutrition and weight lifting. They played extremely well throughout the playoffs. I don’t see that as much anymore. I do think if you’re not prepared, that could happen to you. I have not seen that in any of our guys. And a lot of our young guys you look at the snaps that Kiko has gotten and the snaps that Robert Woods has gotten, even though he was hurt the last game, they’re a lot of snaps. I don’t see those guys slowing down at all."

The reason is the schedule changes that restrict how much teams can hit in practice.

"The new collective bargaining agreement," Marrone said. "The way training camp is now. Normally you practice two days in pads, one day is in helmets and shoulder pads. That’s not the case any more. You’re only allowed one day in pads and you’re only allowed to do it so many times per year. Training camp. We all have those old stories, walking uphill both ways. But training camp was pads in the morning, helmets and shoulder pads in the afternoon, hitting every single day except Sunday. Everyone was reporting to camp the second week in July and playing X amount of preseason games. It was tough. I think when you’re a rookie and you’re going through that, that takes a toll on you. So I think the change of schedule has helped a lot of these younger players.” 

Reed among 25 semifinalists for Hall of Fame

By Mark Gaughan

Buffalo Bills great Andre Reed is among 25 semifinalists for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Hall on Wednesday night released the results of voting that brought a preliminary list of 126 down to 25. The 25 semifinalists will be narrowed to a list of 15 finalists in early January. Reed has been one of the 15 modern-era finalists for induction seven years in a row.

Besides Reed, the semifinalists include: kicker Morten Andersen; safeties Steve Atwater and John Lynch; running backs Jerome Bettis, Roger Craig and Terrell Davis; linebackers Derrick Brooks, Kevin Greene and Karl Mecklenburg; receivers Tim Brown and Marvin Harrison; coaches Don Coryell, Tony Dungy and Jimmy Johnson; owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr.; defensive ends Charles Haley and Michael Strahan; tackles Joe Jacoby and Walter Jones; guards Will Shields and Steve Wisniewski; commissioner Paul Tagliabue; cornerback Aeneas Williams; and general manager George Young. 

Reed holds most of Buffalo's team receiving records, earned in a Bills career that spanned from 1985 to 1999. Reed finished his career with 951 catches, 13,198 receiving yards and 88 touchdowns. In 21 postseason games, Reed caught 85 passes for 1,229 yards and nine touchdowns. He made seven Pro Bowls. 

Bills pluck OL J.J. Unga from Ravens' practice squad

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills filled the hole on their 53-man roster today by signing offensive lineman J.J. Unga off the Baltimore Ravens' practice squad.

Unga, 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, is a 26-year-old rookie. He signed with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent in April, and spent the first 11 weeks of the season on their practice squad. He played collegiately at Midwestern State, making 10 starts in 20 career appearances. He was a first-team All-Lone Star Conference selection in 2012.

"They had him at tackle, but we're moving him inside to play guard," Bills coach Doug Marrone said today.

Unga has one trait Marrone values highly -- size.

"What we like to do is build a bigger team," he said. "My philosophy has always been that this is a big man's game. I think that when we have the opportunity to better ourselves, you know, we have to go ahead and do that no matter what time of year it is. ... That's what we were trying to do. We were trying to get bigger."

The Bills had an opening on their 53-man roster after releasing cornerback Justin Rogers on Tuesday.

Bills' remaining foes are 17-33; Marrone assesses bye week

By Mark Gaughan

Here were the opening comments of Bills coach Doug Marrone today as the team dispersed on its bye week. The Bills' players have off until Monday. The Bills' coaches have done the vast majority of their scouting on the next opponent, the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta plays Thursday against New Orleans. The Falcons are not likely to change a lot of what they do on a short week before facing the Saints.

Said Marrone: "The last couple days we really concentrated on just getting our players, for lack of a better term, flushed out, meaning the soreness. We did a lot of weight training, pushed them hard in the weight room, pushed them hard running. As coaches we were able to start getting the game plans ready as best we can, waiting for the one game, obviously. Atlanta plays on Thursday. I’m happy to say though, if we were playing this week, we’d have everybody healthy. Everybody would be practicing. That’s a great sign. I think for the most part for the players, they’re going home. They understand it’s just a bye. It’s not the end of the season. The reason why is we want to make sure they come back with the proper mindset and they’re ready to go. We talked to them about nutrition while they’re away, we talked to them about lifting while they’re away. We talked about conditioning while they’re away. We talked about the mindset when they come back. As coaches we were able to look back at a lot of things. It’s tough to sit here with a smile when we look back at some of the opportunities we’ve had. It’s like going through and reliving those things."

"We still have a large portion of games in front of us," Marrone said. "I was able to peek at a couple of those teams. I just got a glance at them. Obviously I’m aware of their records. I think the records are not a great indication of who those teams are. They’ve had some injuries on some of those teams and some tough breaks. It looks like a couple of them are starting to play well, maybe like we are. And that’s what we hope we hope to do. We’re disappointed in where we are but it’s what we are. We have five games where we can change that. … All of our focus is going to be on winning a game and beating Atlanta."

Atlanta is 2-8. After that the Bills face Tampa (2-8), Jacksonville (1-9), Miami (5-5) and New England (7-3).

« Older Entries Newer Entries »

About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |