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MemoraBillia: Wilson's priceless Hall collection


By Tim Graham

CANTON, Ohio -- Of all the displays I saw at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the one that struck me most Friday was in the showcase inside the new Ralph Wilson Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center.

The case is unassuming, a simple glass cabinet with seven items that should resonate with any Buffalo Bills fan.

Six of the pieces relate directly to the Bills: a vintage standing buffalo helmet with a single-bar facemask, Bruce Smith's red helmet, Billy Shaw's cleats, a program from the 1990 AFC Championship game and team-signed footballs from Buffalo's 1964 and 1965 AFL championship teams. The balls were donated to Milt Woodard, a former sportswriter who served as AFL president.

The seventh item was the most remarkable: a shadowbox of Wilson's eight World War II medals.

MemoraBillia: Get into your training-camp stance

By Tim Graham

Patulski74ToppsTraining camp season is upon us, and what better way to keep expectations in perspective than by looking at a beaming No. 1 overall draft choice in a three-point stance on a practice field with a tackle dummy hanging in effigy behind him?

The photo on this phenomenal 1974 Topps Walt Patulski card was taken during Bills training camp at Niagara University.

That's nostalgia right there.

Fewer things send me off into another place faster than looking at vintage sports memorabilia, and I know I'm not alone. That's why I'm introducing "MemoraBillia," an occasional collectibles series in which I post neat items that I come across. Sometimes there will be a story behind it. Sometimes I'll do it just because.

And if you have a meaningful piece from your collection to share or a question about the origins of a certain item, then please send along a photo of good quality to I'll post the most interesting stuff here.

In the 1990s, I frequently wrote for the Beckett magazines. The interviews I conducted were among the most enjoyable of my career: Stan Musial, Ken Griffey Jr., Tony Gwynn, Otto Graham, Paul Hornung, Stan Mikita ... They'd turn into children when talking about memorabilia and the stuff they cherished. Mark McGwire was giddy at the idea of finally getting on the Beckett Baseball Monthly cover when I interviewed him in 1996.

I always wanted to tap into that memorabilia vein again. This is a fine excuse.

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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 |