Bob Curran and the guy who named the Buffalo Bills

By Steve Cichon

The first football team ever to be named the Buffalo Bills got their name from an essay contest in 1947, and in a move that seems to echo the sports of today more than the sports of four generations ago, Jimmy Dyson won the contest by appealing to the sponsors.

Dyson, who lived on Norwood Avenue while working for the Pennsylvania Railroad, made the connection between Buffalo Bill, the Wild West, football and — most importantly, perhaps — the contest’s sponsor, Frontier Oil.

The Buffalo Bills played in the All-America Football Conference for three seasons. When Ralph Wilson brought an American Football League team to Buffalo in 1960, another contest was held, and “Buffalo Bills” was the most popular entry. As Ralph Wilson told Bob Curran in this piece, “I could not see any reason why we should change the name.”

So the next time you say “Go Bills,” thank James F. Dyson. And in Bob Curran’s memory, say a prayer for the guys Over There.


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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.