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.
By Tim Graham
Training 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.