After the Buffalo Bills struggled through their ninth straight losing season in 2013, and the passing of the franchise’s only owner Ralph Wilson Jr., a revered Pro Football Hall of Famer, in March, questions were raised about the team’s future in Western New York.
Two games into the 2014 season, the Bills and their fiercely loyal fans are enjoying a remarkable rebirth.
On the field, they are 2-0 – alone atop the AFC East – going into Sunday’s game at home against the San Diego Chargers. They also have a commitment from new owners, Terry and Kim Pegula, to keep the team in Buffalo.
Last Sunday, the Bills beat their division rivals Miami Dolphins 29-10 at the newly renovated Ralph Wilson Stadium in front of 70,000 ardent and cheering fans – a scene reminiscent of the early 1990s when the Bills achieved unprecedented success, making four straight Super Bowl appearances from 1990-1993.
This weekend (Sunday, 10 a.m. ET, ESPN), the Bills and the renewed euphoria the team has created in Buffalo and Western New York will be the subject of a special Sunday NFL Countdown essay.
“Very few organizations in the NFL share the level of affinity Bills fans have for their team,” said Countdown coordinating producer Greg Jewell. “This essay is a unique and different approach to profile the Bills, their fans and the team’s resurgence – one of the storylines of the NFL season so far.”
The essay is voiced by the franchise’s biggest star, Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, whose public battle with cancer is one of the dark clouds that hovered over the franchise and its fans. Now cancer-free, Kelly’s story and the support of the community is one of the Bills’ success stories.
Kelly’s voiced the essay from the comfort of his home in Buffalo this week.
“Jim Kelly was very welcoming to us. He liked the essay,” said ESPN associate feature producer Rachel Sampson, who is producing the piece. “He voiced it with all the energy and excitement he could muster, and his passion for his beloved team is undeniable.”
Editor’s note: Click here for more information on the features on this Sunday’s edition of Sunday NFL Countdown (ESPN, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.). The three-hour program features host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Ray Lewis; as well as reporter/host Wendi Nix with NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter.