6 former Buffalo Bills, including players on championship teams in ’64 and ’65, will speak in Medina on Saturday
Players will share insights, sign autographs in benefit for prostate cancer awareness
MEDINA – Expectations are high for the Buffalo Bills this season with many top sports prognosticators picking the team to win the Super Bowl.
The Bills remain the only team to ever play in four straight Super Bowls. They didn’t win any of those from 1991 to 1994.
But the team has won two league championships, in 1964 and 1965, when they conquered the American Football League. The AFL would merge with the NFL in 1970.
Players who helped build the foundation for the franchise, including those on the the AFL title teams, will be in Medina on Saturday at the Medina Theatre as part of a benefit of Prostate Cancer Awareness.
Attendees can hear from Booker Edgerson, Ken Jones, Marlon Kerner, Paul Maguire, Lou Piccone and Ed Rutkowski. They will sign autographs, share key moments in Bills history and answer questions.
The event includes a spaghetti dinner, autograph-able program, door prizes, silent auction, live auction, 50/50 drawing and photo opportunities. Tickets are $40 for adults and $25 for children under 12.
“This is a great opportunity to learn about the history of the Buffalo Bills and meet some outstanding individuals,” said Joe Cardone, owner of the Medina Theatre and also the Orleans County district attorney. “All six have unique stories that will be inspiring to kids and their parents.”
The Buffalo Bills alumni featured at the event include Booker Edgerson, a member of the AFL championship teams in ’64 and ’65. He is on the Bills Wall of Fame. He played cornerback for the Bills from 1962 to 1969 and was assigned the other team’s top receiver, which included Hall of Famers Lance Allworth of the Chargers, Otis Taylor of the Chiefs and Fred Biletnikoff of the Raiders.
Edgerson is the president of the Buffalo Chapter of the NFLPA Retired Players Association. He also is a prostate cancer survivor and leads a campaign to “Cure the Blue.” He said proceeds from the event in Medina will support prostate cancer awareness and research at Roswell Park in Buffalo and other organizations.
Edgerson wants to see the Bills and NFL put more into prostate cancer education, including the importance of early screenings. He said the league has embraced breast cancer awareness but hasn’t put that kind of support behind prostate cancer.
“No one wants to talk about it,” Edgerson said.
As part of the “Cure the Blue” initiative, men who are minorities are urged to be regularly screened for prostate cancer beginning at age 40 while white males should do annual screenings beginning at 45.
“It should be treated just like mammograms,” Edgerson said.
Early detection dramatically increases the chances of survival, he said.
He is now in his 26th year since he was first detected with prostate cancer.
“If you get screened and treated early there is a very good chance you will survive,” he said.
Most of Saturday’s presentation will feature Edgerson and the former Bills talking about their time on the team, and the changes in professional football.
Edgerson said the AFL and its pass-happy playcalling brought more entertainment to professional football, changes that were followed by the NFL with the merger.
“We were the MTV of that era,” Edgerson said. “It was fast football with a lot of throwing.”
The players in the 1960s earned a scant amount compared to today’s stars. Edgerson said he was paid $7,500 his first year in 1962 and peaked at $25,000, even though he was among the top cornerbacks in the league. Tre’Davious White, the Bills star cornerback, is set to earn a base salary of $9,950,000 this year.
Edgerson is grateful the Bills have stayed in Buffalo, the league’s second-smallest market. Only Green Bay has fewer people. Los Angeles, where the Bills open the season on Thursday against the Rams, enticed that team to move from St. Louis.
Edgerson credits the Bills late owner Ralph Wilson for refusing to uproot the Bills. Terry and Kim Pegula, the current owners, also are committed to keeping the team in Western New York.
Edgerson said he is proud of the community service over the years by the Buffalo Bills alumni. That group has donated $2.6 million to many different causes in the region.
Edgerson continues to live in the Buffalo area.
“I’m so thankful I’ve stayed here in Western New York,” he said. “It’s because of the Buffalo Bills and the people of Western New York.”
Lou Piccone also is a featured former Bill at the event. Piccone was an undersized wide receiver and kick returner who played 10 seasons in the NFL with the Jets from 1974 to 1976, and then the following seven years with the Bills retiring in 1982.
He will share how he overcome obstacles to make an NFL team, and then was able to stay on a roster for a decade, despite weighing only 168 pounds. He caught 100 passes in his career, gaining 1,380 yards. He led the NFL with 39 kickoff returns and 961 kickoff return yards with the Jets as a rookie.
He was a teammate of two of the biggest stars in the NFL in the 1970s – Joe Namath with the Jets and O.J. Simpson with the Bills.
Other Bills in Medina on Saturday include:
- Paul Maguire, who may be best known as television sportscaster, was a punter and linebacker. He first played for the San Diego Chargers in 1960 and then joined the Bills, playing with Buffalo from 1964 to 1970. He was a member of three AFL Champion teams, two with Buffalo and one with the Chargers. He twice was an AFL all star.
- Ken Jones was a tackle in the NFL for 12 seasons, playing with the Bills from 1976 to 1986, then a final season in 1987 with the Jets.
- Marlon Kerner played cornerback with the Bills from 1995 to 1998.
- Ed Rutkowski was a wide receiver and backup quarterback on the Bills from 1963 to 1968. He may be best known for serving eight years as Erie County executive from 1979 to 1987.
“This is a chance to learn about the formative years of the AFL and building the NFL up to what it is today,” Cardone said.
For more information on the event, click here.