January 9, 2024 • By Brian Hayden
No Buffalo Bills weekend is complete without a stop at our Museum, which preserves the largest collection of Bills memorabilia in the world. In our “Icons: The Makers and Moments of Buffalo Sports” exhibit, you can relive some of the greatest moments in the team’s history through the dozens of objects on display that share the stories of unforgettable players, classic moments and incredible games. The exhibit draws on the 100,000 items preserved by our museum in the Greg D. Tranter Buffalo Bills Collection, the largest such collection in the world.
Here are seven must-see items from the Bills’ past to remind you of our team’s extraordinary 64-year journey, and to inspire you for our upcoming playoff run.
Championship Pennant, 1964-1965
Whenever anyone tells you that The Buffalo Bills never won a championship, bring them here to set the record straight. This pennant highlights the Bills’ two championship wins in 1964 and 1965 within the American Football League, which would later merge into the NFL.
Van Miller’s Fur Coat
Buffalo’s longtime sports broadcasters hold a special place in our collective memory. One such legend was Van Miller, who was the voice of the Buffalo Bills for 37 years. Miller was known for his unique wardrobe and often wore this full-length fur coat in the broadcast booth to shield himself from the elements.
Jack Kemp’s campaign football
When Bob Dole selected his running mate in the 1996 presidential election, he turned to Jack Kemp, the former Buffalo Bills quarterback and Congressman who led the team to back-to-back AFL championships in 1964 and 1965. Kemp’s former football career helped inspire this “Dole/Kemp ’96 Touchdown!” campaign football in 1996.
Joe DeLamielleure’s Soda Can
They don’t make soda cans like this anymore. In 1977, RC Cola distributed cans featuring players from a given region’s baseball and football teams. The collectible cans included a photo, statistics, and trivia. In Buffalo, RC selected DeLamielleure, the legendary offensive linesman drafted by the team several years earlier.
Bruce Smith’s Pants, Jersey and Jacket
Perhaps no Bills era is better represented inside the Bills exhibit than the late 80s/early 90s team who fought their way to the Super Bowl four consecutive times. You can see jerseys, gloves, cleats and much more from the slate of legendary players who became household names across America. Defensive end Bruce smith has his jersey, pants, and a commemorative pennant on display.
Jim Kelly’s Commemorative Cigar
Any shortlist of the greatest Bills of all time always includes Jim Kelly. The quarterback steered the Bills through its extraordinary playoff run in the early 1990s. Kelly capped off his career following the 1996 season, and this commemorative cigar on display (in front of the cleats he also wore) is from a roast in honor of his retirement.
Ralph Wilson’s Hall of Fame Jacket
No Buffalo sports exhibit would be complete without a tribute to the man who brought the Bills to Buffalo. Ralph Wilson, one of the founding owners of the American Football League, founded the Bills in 1960 and was inducted into the National Football Hall of Fame in 2009. Every moment from the last 64 years of the Bills traces its origins to Wilson’s decision to site a team here.