Players’ original numbers

Posted by Chris Brown on June 17, 2011 – 8:32 am

As we cover the Untouchable Bills numbers on the home page of today, we thought we’d also take a look at some of the jersey numbers that some notable Bills wore prior to getting the number by which they’re most recognized.

We’ll start big with the team’s first Hall of Famer, O.J. Simpson, who wore another number prior to 32.

“O.J. was 33 initially,” said Bills equipment manager Dave Hojnowski. “I think he may have also worn 36 as well for a brief time. He almost got a completely different number because the head coach John Rauch wanted to make him a wide receiver instead of a running back.”

James Lofton, who joined the Bills in 1989 was another interesting case. He had worn 80 his entire career, but that wasn’t the case when he first arrived in Buffalo.

“He was 86 at first,” Hojnowski said. “He eventually got 80 from Flip Johnson.”

Bills all-time leading receiver Andre Reed was issued a horrible number for a wide receiver when he first reported to One Bills Drive.

“Andre was 46,” said Hojnowski. “When he first came in that’s what he got. He was a fourth-round pick and it was one of those minicamp numbers.”

Here is a rundown of some other Bills who wore another number prior to the one they are most identified with.

Cornelius Bennett was 97 before going to 55
Ryan Denney was 90 before becoming 92
Lee Evans was briefly 84 but got 83 eventually
Jabari Greer was 37 before he went to 33
Tony Hunter was 49 before he was 87
Harry Jacobs was 56 and 54 before becoming 64
Sammy Morris was 45, then 33 and finally 31
Jamie Mueller was 39 before going to 41
Mark Pike was 57 and then 94
Jay Riemersma was 49 before he was 85
Aaron Schobel was initially 95 before getting 94
John Tracey was 85 before taking 51
David White was 50 before becoming 51
Shaud Williams was 36 before going to 40
George Wilson was 15 and now is 37
Wil Wolford was 69 before going to 73
Kenyatta Wright was 57 before taking 98

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fred excited to wear new unis

Posted by Chris Brown on June 15, 2011 – 5:32 pm

In a radio interview with the Shredd and Ragan show on 103.3 The Edge Wednesday Fred Jackson was asked about the new uniforms.

Jackson, who was one of the test models for the new uniforms and ran around with them on a while back, would not reveal any details about the new uniforms, but did say he’s very excited to wear them and hopes it helps to serve as a way to build a new tradition and get things turned around.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Dobler’s uniform secrets

Posted by Chris Brown on June 15, 2011 – 11:15 am

As you saw in our Uniform Extremes piece on the home page of today, former Bills guard Conrad Dobler did just about anything to gain an edge. Coming here for the last two years of his career he knew his body was starting to wear down, which only prompted him to ramp up his efforts to gain an edge.

Dobler had all kinds of different methods for discouraging the opposition as told by Bills equipment manager Dave Hojnowski, who had a couple of encounters with him.

“When we first got him he came to me and said, ‘I’ve got some shin guards that I need you to keep an eye on in the laundry,’” said Bills equipment manager Dave Hojnowski. “So he brings me the shin guards to show me so I know these are his and they were like two nylon sleeves and there was a pocket where there were two metal rods, metal steel rods that he put in those shin guards.

“He would leg whip guys with these steel rods in his shin guards. You couldn’t really tell (they were there) because they were under his game socks. So if you were playing against Conrad Dobler you’d better be prepared to get leg whipped, tackled, bitten, whatever it took.”

Dobler also resorted to sense of smell when it came to offending the opposition.

“Back then some guys used that DMSO that would make your breath smell like garlic,” said Hojnowski. “He used literally everything at his disposal to try to get ready for games.”

Hojnowski is referring to dimethyl sulfoxide, which players rubbed on their skin as a topical analgesic at the time, especially those with chronic pain like Dobler. The side effect of DMSO was even though you rubbed it on your skin your breath would smell like garlic. Dobler, however, saw that as an advantage breathing in close proximity to the defensive linemen he faced in games. If his breath was offensive, all the better.

With Dobler’s knees sustaining significant damage over the previous eight seasons with St. Louis and New Orleans it would take most of Sunday morning for him to prepare his body to play and then most of the week after to recover and be ready to strap it up the following week.

“He would show up before a game at 7:30 or 8 in the morning and that would begin his preparation for the game,” Hojnowski recalls. “He’d get one hand taped and wait a while and get the other hand taped. In between he’d be using everything possible to get his legs and his knees ready to play. It always smelled like a Ben-Gay factory around him. That and I remember him hopping off the table for every game day for the game no problem and at the end of the game he could barely walk because his legs were so sore and his knees were so bad. It was amazing to see that.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Uniform patches a lot of work

Posted by Chris Brown on June 15, 2011 – 10:53 am

While we count down to the June 24th unveiling of the Bills new uniforms, we’d thought we’d pass along some of the lesser known details to the uniforms over the years including some of the patches that have appeared on the shoulders of the jerseys.

Most Bills fans remember the 50th anniversary patch worn in 2009 and the black oval Gene Upshaw initial patch after the Hall of Fame Raiders lineman and former NFLPA head passed a few years ago. Buffalo’s jerseys also had a 35th anniversary patch back in ’94 and an NFL 75th anniversary patch.

All those patches have to be sewn on by a seamstress, which the Bills have locally done by their dry cleaner. With the most recent Bills Toronto Series patch the Bills equipment staff has to go for efficiency knowing they’ve sometimes got just five days to get the BTS patch on for the game that’s played in Toronto and then off again in the event that there’s another home game the next week at Ralph Wilson Stadium, which is the case this year.

“It is a lot of work,” said Bills equipment manager Dave Hojnowski. “We’ve had the anniversary patches and luckily for the anniversary patches those stay on the whole year. The Toronto ones, we have to have them on for that week and if we have a home game the next week we have to have them removed. So pretty much we just have our seamstress single stitch them so they’re easy to put on and easier to take off.”

Here’s a look at that patch below, which will be sewn on the week of Buffalo’s game in Toronto against Washington (Oct. 30th) before having it removed for the game the following Sunday against the Jets (Nov. 6th).

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-3

Posted by Chris Brown on June 3, 2011 – 12:09 pm

Hard to believe we’re into June already. We’ve got some uniform tidbits and some roster talk  this week so let’s get to your questions from and keep them coming.

1 – Chris, 

I would like to hear your opinion between Kellen Heard and Michael Jasper.  Heard was added to the roster late last season.  He is listed as 6’6″ 355lb. DT, signed off of the Raiders practice squad.  Then there is the newly drafted Michael Jasper whom I believe is listed as 6’4″ 375.  Also listed as a DT.  I guess the question is shouldn’t we be just as excited about Heard as Jasper.  I am thinking that Heard slipped into the team late last year and mostly unnoticed, but he is a very big man.  Jasper was drafted during one of the more exciting times of the season, “the draft”.  Your thoughts between these two men.


CB: Well I think it’s clear that both players have a hill to climb to crack this roster. The two of them are likely to be going head to head for what could be the last spot on the active roster at defensive line. Last year Buffalo’s coaching staff kept seven defensive linemen. Right now the top 6 are Carrington, Dareus, Edwards, Johnson, Troup and Williams leaving one spot available provided the rest of the roster falls in such a way to allow for a seventh defensive lineman.

Heard benefits from being here for about six weeks last season. He has familiarity with the system. Jasper is coming in cold and without having played defensive line the past two years. Both are intriguing, but they’ll have to really impress to crack what has quickly become a pretty solid defensive line depth chart.


2 – Chris, everyone keeps talking about how awesome Kyle Williams in articles and blogs and such. I never remember seeing him really stand out last year. I have trouble getting excited about the guy. Can you please do a video montage of some of the plays Kyle Williams made last year to show off what he did well? This I think would go a long ways to getting myself and many Bills fans excited about 2012.

Rob Conner

CB: Funny you should ask this question Rob. We have plans to do video pieces on of the Top 10 performances from 2010 and Kyle’s game against the Steelers in Week 12 last season is on that list when he had 10 tackles and a couple of sacks and dominated Steelers linemen Chris Kemoeatu and Maurkice Pouncey.

The best part is we have members of Buffalo’s coaching staff breaking down the plays with me in the film room to provide insight on each and every highlight from the players.

The 10-part series will begin on on Tuesday June 14th and aside from a brief interruption with our coverage of the uniform unveiling will run through mid-July. So keep an eye out for it. We’re real excited about it.


3 – Chris,

 By now, we all know that the regular home and away jerseys are changing.  And thanks to Madden, most of us know what they are changing too.  But I saw the THROW BACK jerseys are all on sale for the same price as the discontinued jersey, I have to ask…… Is that going away too?

Steven J. Huber

CB: I’ve been told that he team will not be wearing an alternate third jersey in the 2011 season. Just a home and away jersey.



4 – Why did the Bills pick June 24th as the day to unveil the new jerseys?


CB: There were two main factors in June 24th being selected and both of them involve timing issues. The first was late June was the absolute earliest that the new jerseys would be available from Reebok. That’s why the new jerseys were not used during the NFL draft when Marcell Dareus was up on stage at Radio City Music Hall. They weren’t available yet

Changing uniforms in the NFL is an 18-month process with a countless number of stages and steps. It’s not a quick turnaround by any means.

The second timing issue has to do with the Ralph Wilson Stadium turf. Shortly after June 24th the old turf is being pulled up for the new turf scheduled for installation for the 2011 season. Obviously an event on a torn up football field does not provide for the best of venues knowing there will be field access for fans that attend the uniform unveiling.  

Hope that clears it up for you.



5 – Chris,

Thanks for all you do. What do you think taking Johnny White in the draft means for the RB situation? Is there possibility for trade with him here?

Also, assuming Fred Jackson starts, can he push for the 2nd RB, starting over C.J.?

Thank you,
Max, Lakeview N.Y.

CB: I think in this day and age of the NFL you need a stable of backs. Last year in the preseason we watched Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson go down in the first half of their first preseason game leaving only C.J. and at the time Chad Simpson.

Most NFL clubs carry three backs on their 53-man roster because it is such a punishing position along with a fullback.

So I’m anticipating White to be the third back behind Fred and C.J. and for him to spell them once in a while when they need a break or in the event of injury while also contributing on special teams where he’s a pretty darn good asset in the opinion of Bills special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven with whom I spoke recently. And thanks for the kind words.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Tasker on new uniforms

Posted by Chris Brown on June 3, 2011 – 8:30 am

Bills Wall of Famer Steve Tasker was on 97 Rock to talk about the new uniforms.

Tasker himself has not seen them, but he commented on the unveiling event lined up for June 24th and was also asked for his take on the NFL labor situation.

Remember complimentary tickets for the uniform unveiling are available beginning today (Friday) at M&T bank branches and Verizon Wireless stores in Erie County and online.

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Tix for uniform unveiling

Posted by Chris Brown on June 1, 2011 – 11:11 am

Here’s a heads up on tickets for the unveiling of the new Bills uniforms for 2011, which will happen at Ralph Wilson Stadium on June 24th.

Here is a listing of the M&T bank branches and Verizon Wireless locations where you can pick up tickets in person. 

Tickets will be available beginning Friday, June 3 at 10 a.m online as well.  There is a ticket limit of six (6) tickets per person.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-22

Posted by Chris Brown on April 22, 2011 – 12:30 pm

The 2011 NFL draft is so close you can taste it. Let’s get to your last set of questions before the Bills are on the clock from !

1 – Hi Chris,

I know the Bills wanted to have a special fan event presentation to announce the new uniforms and that it might not be for awhile.
But, what uniform would the first round pick of the Bills hold up after he’s drafted?  Will it be the old navy/home uniform or the new one that we haven’t seen yet?


Brenda from Colorado

CB: The jersey held up by the Bills top draft choice is a league operation. From what I have been told the draft is NOT when the new jersey will be unveiled despite a lot of speculation to the contrary. The unveiling of the 2011 uniforms will be later in the offseason.

So the league will use the current jersey when the Bills first draft choice is introduced, provided he’s in New York at the draft.

2 – Hi Chris,

Do you know if the players have talked about any plans for the off season regarding the lockout? Can Coaches and players put together plans or not? If you were the head coach, what would you do? We might get in trouble for doing this but I would send out my playbook for this coming season to my signal callers and have them practice. Is this illegal and what are the possible ramifications?

Stephen A. Naetzker

CB: There are a handful of players from different teams organizing practice sessions amongst themselves. Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald is one of the more recent examples that has been reported. I did catch a radio interview with Stevie Johnson recently and he did say that a few of Buffalo’s receivers planned to work with Ryan Fitzpatrick in his native Arizona.

This is all conducted by the players on their own behalf. Coaches cannot have any contact with the players under the NFL rules with the lockout. And yes your playbook idea is illegal.

3 – Hey Chris, do you think the Bills will have a chance at drafting Patrick Peterson, Cameron Heyward and Kelvin Sheppard with their first three picks? 


Alexander Toronto
CB: I do believe Peterson will be there at third overall. He’s a dynamic player, but I think the front seven is where Buffalo’s defense needs the most help heading into the draft. Cameron Heyward could still be on the board in round two. Kelvin Sheppard is a tough one to call in round three. If there’s one team in round two that loves him they’ll scoop him up.

4 – How many opening day (2011) starters do you think Buffalo can draft with 9 picks?

Care to guess the offensive/defensive split of those 9 picks?

I think it is a 7-2 split on the picks (7 defense, 2 offense).
Jim Wickens

CB: Chan Gailey himself has said he expects them to use more of their picks on the defensive side of the ball. Predicting the split is next to impossible because come the later rounds it’s more about the value there than which side of the ball. So I’ll account for one value pick and say six defense and three offense.

As for opening day starters most NFL GMs believe that picks in the first three round should eventually become starters. At third overall the guy should start from day one. Buffalo’s second pick, which is practically a late first rounder should be starting caliber as a rookie as well. Third round pick should be a starter in a year or so. Of course what could trump the number of starters would be a quarterback prospect that might sit for a year. So I’ll conservatively say two.

5 – Hi Chris,
Thanks for your great work and keeping us Bills fans in the know. But my question is about Aaron Maybin. Why is he still a Buffalo Bill? Just seems to me that if coach Gailey and Buddy Nix didn’t think there was something there, they would’ve waived him a long time ago. That just leads me to think that they feel strongly that there is alot of untaped potential there that can be developed. I know he’s still really young. What have you heard and/or what are your thoughts on that situation?
Thanks again,
Jerry (Bills fan in FL)

CB: I’m going to defer to a recent comment by Coach Gailey on this.

“Aaron is under contract and we’ll see if he can learn what to do and be a player for us,” said Gailey. “He has great speed, he understands about rushing the passer, not everything. He has some work to do there. He has to play the run a little bit better. He’s got a chance. The ball is in his court. He’s got to go make it happen. Potential only lasts so long. He’s run out of that potential time and he needs to now go and make it happen.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills