January 15, 1986-- Football fans who attend a game at Ralph Wilson Stadium probably recognize many of the names on the team's Wall of Fame. The least well-known might be Pat McGroder.
There might not be a Buffalo Bills without Pat McGroder. Back in the late 1950's, Wilson was interested in bringing an American Football League franchise to Buffalo. In order to do that, he had to talk to McGroder, who was serving as the city's sports coordinator.
The two men worked out a deal for what would become known as War Memorial Stadium. Not only that, but they got along so well that Wilson offered McGroder an executive position with the team. McGroder had a variety of jobs for the team over the years, and he reportedly did it for $1 per year. Media members who covered the team in the early 1980s remember the time that McGroder gave a passioned and emotional speech to them defending Wilson's work with the team.
McGroder died 24 years ago today in Scottsdale, Ariz., after a short illness at the age of 81. It came shortly after his name went up on the Wall.
--- Budd Bailey