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Bills get extension to sell 3,500 tickets, maybe avoid TV blackout

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills were granted a 24-hour extension this afternoon to sell the remaining 3,500 tickets for Sunday's game against the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium, thus lifting the local television blackout.

The Bills now have until 1 p.m. Friday to do so.

There have not been any blackouts in the NFL this season. The Bills avoided one in Week Six against Cincinnati when owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. bought the remaining tickets before the deadline.

Earlier this week, The News' Gene Warner wrote about the potential blackout:

“It is not likely that the game will be sold out,” Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon acknowledged Monday afternoon. “It’s going to be difficult to reach that level of sales in the remaining three days, but we’re not going to stop working until Sunday, to try to get as many people in the building as we can.”

That doesn’t mean, though, that the blackout can’t be lifted.

The team has been aggressive in its ticket-selling efforts, offering a military discount to veterans and their families, who can buy tickets for $25 apiece. There also are reports that the team has offered ticket discounts to youth sports leagues.

The Bills will host their "Salute to Service" game, honoring all branches of the armed forces. There will be a live oath reaffimation ceremony on the field at halftime., and 10 members of each of the five military branches will be honored for their service on the field prior to kickoff.

Al Bemiller to receive Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Distinguished Service Award

By Jay Skurski

The Monday Morning Quarterback Club has announced that former Bills center Al Bemiller has been selected to receive the 28th annual Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Distinguished Service Award for the 2013 season. Bemiller will be honored during a pre-game ceremony at the Bills’ next home game Nov. 17 against the Jets, and at the Monday Morning Quarterback Club luncheon the following day at the Adams Mark.

Bemiller was with the Bills from 1961-69, making 126 consecutive appearances over nine seasons. He was a starter on the both the 1964 and ’65 teams that won American Football League championships. Bemiller has been an active member of the Buffalo Bills Alumni Association, and is a certified official and coach in Western New York youth wrestling and football. He lives in Orchard Park with his wife, Wanda. The couple has four children and five grandchildren.

Bemiller was selected by the Bills in the 1961 AFL Draft after playing collegiately at Syracuse University. He was also an accomplished collegiate wrestler.

The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Distinguished Service Award was established in 1986 by the Monday Morning Quarterback Club to honor former players for long and meritorious service to the team.

Ralph Wilson bids farewell to 'Foolish Club' partner Bud Adams

By Tim Graham

Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams died today. He was 90.

Adams and Buffalo Bills founder Ralph Wilson were in the "Foolish Club," the eight charter members of the American Football League in 1960.

Adams owned the Houston Oilers and moved them to Tennessee in 1997.

Wilson, who turned 95 last week, is the last remaining owner from the original AFL. William Barron Hilton, founder of the Los Angeles Chargers, is 85 years old. He sold the team in 1966.

Wilson released through the Bills a statement on Adams' passing:

"I am saddened to hear the news of the passing of Bud Adams. As original AFL team owners, we all shared a common bond and a deep sense of pride in where we started in 1960 to where the NFL is today and how much our fans enjoy the game of professional football.

"Bud certainly played an important role in the growth and development of our game, and today I am remembering with great fondness all the laughs we shared with the special memories over the years. Through it all, our teams played some of the most memorable games in AFL and NFL history.

"I want to extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to Bud’s daughters Susan and Amy and family and to all of his many friends."

Ralph Wilson unable to attend today's Wall of Fame tribute

By Tim Graham

Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson wanted to attend this afternoon's game.

The club is honoring its Wall of Fame, of which Wilson is a member. Eighteen honorees were present or represented by their families.

Wilson, however, was unable to come. He can't get around very well. His 95th birthday is next month.

Wilson attended the Pro Football Hall of Fame's golden anniversary celebration last month, but has attended only one Bills game over the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

There are five regular-season games left in the stadium that bears his name. The weather will get worse.

The Bills released a statement from Wilson:

"Today is a special day for our fans, our organization and certainly our Wall of Famers. I would enjoy nothing more than to be at the stadium to share in the celebration with everyone, but travel continues to be a challenge for me.

"With out Tribute to the Wall of Fame this weekend, we are honoring the best of the best in the history of our organization. The mere mention of their names conjures up so many great memories while acknowledging their special talents.

"I want to take this opportunity to, once again, thank each of our Wall of Fame members for their outstanding contributions and loyalty to the Buffalo Bills and for making professional football what it is today -- the greatest sport in the world. This certainly includes our tremendous fans for their boundless enthusiasm and unwavering loyalty over the years. Today's celebration shines a well-deserved light on their Wall of Fame honor as well.

"I sincerely hope that all members of the Wall of Fame and their families, along with Bills fans everywhere enjoy today's Tribute to the Wall of Fame ceremony. Go Bills!"

Bills worth 8 percent more in Forbes' annual NFL valuations

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills' value jumped 8 percent from last year, but their league-wide ranking slipped a spot in Forbes magazine's latest NFL team financial assessment.

Forbes estimates the Bills are worth $870 million based on last year's revenue, operating income, public information such as the stadium lease agreement and other data. Forbes ranks the Bills 30th in the NFL ahead of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders.

Last month, Forbes ranked the Bills the world's 42nd-most-valuable franchise, but that was based on their 2012 valuation.

Here is a snapshot of the past 11 years from Forbes (with NFL rank) and a link to each capsule:

2013 -- $870 million (30th)
2012 -- $805 million (29th)
2011 -- $792 million (29th)
2010 -- $799 million (28th)
2009 -- $909 million (26th)
2008 -- $885 million (27th)
2007 -- $821 million (27th)
2006 -- $756 million (25th)
2005 -- $708 million (25th)
2004 -- $637 million (24th)
2003 -- $564 million (26th)
2002 -- $458 million (25th)

Video: Bills talk with 'PFT Live'

By Tim Graham

CANTON, Ohio -- From the Pro Football Hall of Fame grounds, I visited with Mike Florio and "PFT Live" to talk about the scene and what's going on with the Buffalo Bills.

Among the topics we discussed were Ralph Wilson's rare public appearance, the future of the Bills, a review of the Mario Williams injury situation, the EJ Manuel-Kevin Kolb quarterback competition and Jairus Byrd's contract squabble.

Rare Ralph Wilson appearance warms Hall of Famers' hearts

By Tim Graham

CANTON, Ohio -- John Madden gave a fist pump when he saw Buffalo Bills founder Ralph Wilson arrive this morning at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"It's just good to see him," Madden told me after 121 inductees posed for a group photo to commemorate the Hall of Fame's 50th anniversary. "I'm glad he's here.

"You're just happy to see it when they make it and say, 'Ralph's back and he's OK."

Continue reading "Rare Ralph Wilson appearance warms Hall of Famers' hearts" »

Ford Taurus rides and tuna melts forged a bond with Ralph Wilson

By Tim Graham

At every Friday practice for nearly three years, Ralph Wilson's golf cart would whir down the stadium tunnel ramp and onto the field.

Troy Vincent knew it was time to leave and shower up.

No matter that three practice periods still remained. Head coach Mike Mularkey and defensive coordinator Jerry Gray were helpless.

Mr. Wilson was there to whisk away their star safety for tuna melts and french fries at Danny's restaurant in Orchard Park.

Continue reading "Ford Taurus rides and tuna melts forged a bond with Ralph Wilson" »

Buddy Nix steps down as Bills GM; Doug Whaley expected to take over

By Tim Graham

Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News

Sixteen days ago, Buffalo Bills President Russ Brandon said "Buddy Nix is our general manager and will be for a long time."

Nix also said his role hadn't changed.

Few people in the know actually believed either of them.

Today, Nix stepped down as GM of the Bills. The move has been expected since Jan. 1, when Brandon took over for Ralph Wilson as team president.

No replacement has been named, although it's assumed 40-year-old assistant GM Doug Whaley will be named Nix's replacement soon. The Bills announced in February that Whaley had signed a contract extension, and the front office has discussed it has had a plan in place for Whaley.

Continue reading "Buddy Nix steps down as Bills GM; Doug Whaley expected to take over" »

Ralph Wilson statement on today's passing of Larry Felser

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills have released a statement from owner Ralph Wilson on legendary Buffalo News columnist Larry Felser, who died today at 80:

"I am deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing of Larry Felser. Larry was there at the beginning of the American Football League and, along with fellow reporters such as Will McDonough and others, played an important role in the growth of our league.

"He was the consummate professional -- tough, but fair, and never one to shy away from clearly stating his opinion. I had tremendous respect for Larry, and we developed a deep friendship that lasted throughout our lifetimes. We shared some great laughs over the years and that's what I am remembering most today about Larry. I will truly miss him.

"My deepest sympathies and condolences go out to his lovely wife, Beverly, and their family."

Felser spent 12 years at the Courier-Express before working 38 years for The Buffalo News and was a popular radio personality.

He served as president of the Pro Football Writers of America and was inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.

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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 |