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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Jack Kemp

  (Born July 13, 1935) -- It’s a little difficult to find new information about Jack Kemp for a Western New York audience. People here know all about him, including the fact that he and wife Joanne named their children Jeff, Jimmy, Judith and Jennifer. You may detect a trend there.

   He certainly took the long way to Buffalo. Kemp was born in Los Angeles, and one of his high school classmates there was musician Herb Alpert. He played football and threw the javelin at Occidental College.

   Kemp was drafted in the 17th round by the Lions, was cut and spent a year with the Steelers and then moved on to the taxi squads of the Giants and 49ers. After one game in Canada, he landed with the new San Diego Chargers of the American Football League, where he played in the new league’s first two championship games.

   Buffalo picked him on waivers when San Diego tried to save a roster spot, and it was one of the Bills’ best-ever acquisitions. He led the Bills to championships in 1964 and 1965, and played in five of the AFL’s ten title games.

   In 1970, Kemp retired to run for Congress. He won and stayed in the House from 1971 to 1989. From there he joined George H.W. Bush’s Cabinet, and ran for Vice President with Bob Dole in 1996. Kemp died of cancer in 2009.

--- Budd Bailey


Bandits | History
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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.