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 is a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. writing about the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The storyteller and historian has written six books, worn bow ties since the 80s, and is the News Director at WECK Radio. A 25 year Buffalo media veteran, Steve's contributed more than 1400 Buffalo History stories to The Buffalo News, worked at WIVB-TV, Empire Sports Network, and spent ten years as a newsman and News Director at WBEN Radio. He's also put his communication skills to work as an adjunct professor, a producer of PBS documentaries, and even run for Erie County Clerk. Steve's Buffalo roots run deep: all eight of his great-grandparents called Buffalo home, with his first ancestors arriving here in 1827.