August 30, 1946: Buffalo Bisons vs. Miami Seahawks
Historical Game of the Week
By Ken Crippen
- Professional Football Researchers Association
Published: October 20th, 2008
While it was only a preseason game, for the first time in five years, Buffalo fielded a professional football team. On a crystal clear August night in Baltimore, the Buffalo Bisons took on the Miami Seahawks. The highest priority for both squads was talent evaluation, as both teams fielded their entire roster for the game. The clubs needed to cut their rosters to the league-mandated thirty-three players before the beginning of the season a mere nine days later. It would not be easy for either squad.
Both teams stuck to their ground attack, which paid dividends for Miami first. Fifteen seconds into the second quarter, former Alabama star Jimmy Nelson crossed the line on a six-yard run. Buffalo quickly answered with a fifty-yard run from Notre Dame back Steve Juzwik. Buffalo would rack up two more scoring drives in the second period: the first from Cornell’s Ken Stofer, who ripped off a thirty-two yard scamper and former Pittsburgh Panther and Chicago Cardinal player Bill Daddio capped the quarter’s scoring with a twenty-three yard field goal.
Miami started to put things together in the third quarter, but it was not until the fourth period before they were able to cross the goal line again. Buffalo’s Bob Thurbon increased the Buffalo lead to 23-7 on a fifty-five yard run, but it was all Miami for the rest of the game. Preston Johnson out of S.M.U. had given his team a much needed spark with his twenty-yard scoring run. Miami was down 23-14, when Jim Tarrant connected on a thirty-five yard pass to Jimmy Nelson, who made a heroic catch to bring the Seahawks to within striking distance. It was too little – too late as the final buzzer sounded with Buffalo taking the 23-21 victory and momentum going into the season.
The Miami Seahawks only lasted one year. After finishing the season 3-11 (depressingly enough, two of those wins came against the Buffalo Bisons), the Seahawks folded due to substantial debt. The team was purchased by Baltimore business interests, moved to Baltimore and renamed the Colts. This Colts franchise would be one of the three teams to make it into the NFL in 1950 (the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers were the other two teams). With the allocation of talent from the remaining AAFC teams when the league folded, several Buffalo players made their way on to the Colts squad. Defensive tackle and Hall of Famer Art Donovan was a draft pick of the Bills, but did not graduate college until 1950 and therefore did not play for Buffalo. End Ed King, fullback Vito Kissell, halfback Bob Livingstone, halfback Chet Mutryn, halfback Chick Maggioli and end Bob Oristaglio all played for the Bills and made their way to the Colts in 1950. Clem Crowe, who took over for fired Bills head coach Red Dawson, was the coach of the 1950 Colts. Baltimore went 1-11-0 that year and sold their player contracts to the NFL and folded. A few years later, a new Baltimore Colts franchise was formed, which became the Indianapolis Colts in 1984.
The Bisons finished the season 3-10-1, only slightly better than the Seahawks. Buffalo played all four years in the AAFC, but were not admitted into the NFL in 1950. The city fought for a franchise, but the NFL did not want to expand beyond thirteen teams. Buffalo would have to wait until 1959 before major-league professional football returned.