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Buffalo Bills News - July 26, 2000

Marker Brown hoping less means more [8:57 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The Bills' star left guard reported to training camp in the greatest shape of his life. He lost 40 pounds since last season, dropping from 325 to 285. "When I got here, he was wearing a Dr. J jersey," said Brown's agent, Eric Metz, referring to basketball great Julius Erving. "And the thing is, he looked like Dr. J." Metz was joking, but there's no exaggerating how good Brown looks. "I feel great, and I'm really enthusiastic about this season," Brown said.'

Marker Rookie DBs have jobs with Bills within reach [8:55 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'There isn't much argument about where the team's chief vulnerability lies. Two starting members of the secondary, cornerback Thomas Smith and free safety Kurt Schulz, were lured away by free agent dollars. Backup safety Manny Martin was not re-signed. Cornerback Reggie Durden of Florida State came to Pittsford unheralded, but everyone in this camp is talking about him. Safety Nick Ferguson, fresh from the champion Rhein Fire of NFL Europe, also turned heads. As of Tuesday afternoon's practice, so did Quincy Coleman, who made a diving interception of a Doug Flutie pass and came right back with a nifty breakup of another pass on the next down. That's convenience.'

Marker Flowers' deal came with help from Smith [8:54 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Flowers will receive a $400,000 base salary this year, followed by base salaries of $500,000, $600,000, $700,000 and $800,000, according to figures obtained by The News. The Bills created about $200,000 of extra room under the salary cap that helped them sign Flowers by restructuring the contract of running back Antowain Smith. Smith has two years remaining on the original five-year contract he signed with the Bills. He is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2001 season. As with most restructured contracts, Smith will receive the same amount of money he was scheduled to earn. The Bills converted some of his base salary this season into bonus money, some of which they can count toward next year's cap.'

Marker Business trains sights on Bills [6:06 AM]
D and C reports: 'The sponsoring businesses are taking advantage of the opportunities, rolling out new products and offering one-of-a-kind discounts to the crowd. "This is an excellent opportunity to build our brand in our home markets and give us exposure where we haven't had it before," said Randall L. Scroger, regional manager for Heluva Good Cheese Inc. "The Bills are a legendary thing in western New York and we're celebrating our 75th anniversary, so we think it's a natural tie-in."'

Marker Life goes on in Fredonia [6:00 AM]
D and C reports: '"My sense is we're doing well," Mayor Frank A. Pagano said Friday. "We have a large tourist industry, and the Buffalo Bills were only a small part of that. The economic impact is negligible. But maybe it was more a sense of pride that's gone. We saw that `Fredonia' byline in the papers every night. That's what it was, a sense of pride."'

Marker Expanded role pleases Price [5:59 AM]
D and C reports: '"I was satisfied with the second half of last year, but I didn't think I was given the opportunity to do more in the first half," he said. "As the season progressed the coaches started using me more and I was producing and I felt a lot more confident in what I could do." This season Reed is gone, Price is the full-time starter, and expectations are high that he and Moulds can become a dynamic duo with strong-armed quarterback Rob Johnson zinging them the ball. "I know Rob expects me to get deep and I expect him to throw it deep," said Price. "That's the game I like, throw the ball deep, air it out."'

Marker Buffalo scribe not a big fan of camp setup [5:57 AM]
D and C reports: 'Larry Felser, longtime columnist for the Buffalo News, isn't too impressed by the Bills' new training facility at St. John Fisher College. In yesterday's editions, Felser took some shots at the team's new digs.'

Marker Clowns and music new attractions [5:56 AM]
D and C reports: 'There will be some new noon time entertainment starting today. All of the attractions will be near the main concession tent, adjacent to the grass practice fields. Jazzbo the Clown will entertain children of all ages from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. today and all next week. Scooter the Clown will appear from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. tomorrow and Friday. Face painting will be available from noon to 4 p.m. daily. The music of Rich Cooley will serenade guests while they eat lunch on the Alumni Terrace at Growney Stadium.'

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July 25, 2000

Marker Cowart, Holecek provide Bills defense a one-two punch [8:22 PM]
AP reports: 'For the past two years, Sam Cowart and John Holecek have been a dynamic duo as inside linebackers in the Bills' defensive scheme. With Holecek plugging holes, and Cowart going after the ball or holding back to play the pass, the two have provided a unique one-two punch. They are a key reason why the Bills are one of the few remaining teams to play a 3-4 set on most downs, and they played a major role in why the Bills finished with the top-ranked defense last year.'

Marker 1990s All-Decade Team [12:43 PM]
AP reports: 'Forty-Niners receiver Jerry Rice, Titans guard Bruce Matthews, Panthers defensive end Reggie White, Redskins defensive end Bruce Smith and former Lions running back Barry Sanders were unanimous choices, receiving votes on every ballot.'

Marker Kidding around: Flowers enjoys first day [8:56 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Buffalo Bills rookie defensive end Erik Flowers said he felt like a little kid in his first practice with his new team. "It kind of reminds you of being a little 5-year-old and going to kindergarten class but being late, and everybody's watching you as you walk through the door," Flowers said at the Bills' St. John Fisher College training camp. "I was a little nervous at the start but things settled down."'

Marker Buses, fan isolation major problems with Bills' new digs [8:55 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Yeah, it's all new and people are uptight, but why make the fans feel as if they are touring an industrial park? There are two major mistakes. The shuttle bus idea is not striking a favorable chord with fans. If there had been a similar bus ride in Fredonia, it would have been like traveling from midtown Dunkirk to the SUNY campus. The other mistake is isolating the players from the fans. Yes, autograph seekers can be a pain, but these are the people who indirectly pay those fat NFL salaries. All major league sports should pattern themselves off the Dodgers' training camp in Vero Beach, Fla., where the club forces the players to walk through the crowds to get to the diamond. They're also encouraged to pose for photos with the fans and their kids.'

Marker Washington 'good' enough to make list [8:54 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Buffalo Bills nose tackle Ted Washington has been selected as one of the 99 "Good Guys" in professional sports by the Sporting News in the July 31 issue of the magazine. Washington, entering his sixth season with the Bills, contributes a great deal of time and money to community programs throughout Western New York. In 1998, he created the Ted Washington Foundation to benefit area youth charities. The Multiple Sclerosis Society and Junior Achievement are among the many organizations he supports.'

Marker Johnson ignores illness for Bills camp [7:05 AM]
AP reports: 'Buffalo Bills' quarterback Rob Johnson was down but not out yesterday, practising despite battling stomach cramps. Feeling ill for the last few days, Johnson had antibiotics delivered to his room at about 2:30 a.m. EDT yesterday, coach Wade Phillips said.'

Marker Dolphins find unlikely ally in Bresnahan [6:46 AM]
Miami Herald reports: 'They asked the former Buffalo Bills offensive line coach to cast aside the strongest NFL bond he forged over a 37-year career and help the AFC East rival Dolphins. Bresnahan responded in heroic fashion. He was on a cross-country flight the next morning . . . and on the field coaching Miami's linemen the morning after that. "There was no decision to make," Bresnahan says. "I mean, I checked with my wife, but she was going to urope with her sister and I wasn't invited -- I would have been scrambling."'

Marker All eyes focus on top pick's entrance [6:10 AM]
D and C reports: 'The team's first-round draft choice out of Arizona State ended his four-day contract holdout late Sunday, and was on the field for the first time yesterday at St. John Fisher College. All eyes are fixed on No. 96, the first defensive end drafted by the Bills since a guy named Bruce Smith back in 1985. With Smith now wearing Washington Redskins colors and veteran Marcellus Wiley recovering from back surgery, Flowers will get immediate playing time, something that should help his career blossom sooner than normal. "He's ready to play. He obviously has been working out," coach Wade Phillips said. "He didn't miss anything we didn't go over in our June mini-camp, so he seemed to fit right in."'

Marker Undrafted Cavil is eager to contribute [6:09 AM]
D and C reports: '"I hate the cold," he said at training camp yesterday. "And I've seen about two inches of snow in my whole life. So where do I end up? Buffalo." Somebody down here likes Cavil, too. The Buffalo Bills. "He's looking pretty good," Eric Moulds said. "He's big, fast and strong. That's hard to find in a receiver."'

Marker Bills prefer grass, not turf, at Fisher [6:07 AM]
D and C reports: 'Artificial turf causes wear and tear on the joints of the body, not to mention scrapes and "turf burns" to the skin during a fall or tackle. That's why all the drills are taking place on the grass practice fields. "You want to save your knees and legs and everything," punter Chris Mohr said. "We've always practiced on grass. We don't even practice on the Astroturf in Buffalo." That goes for the kickers, too. "The grass is just so much easier on the body," kicker Steve Christie said. "I'd rather stay on the grass as long as possible."'

Marker On our honeymoon, we watched the Bills! [6:06 AM]
D and C reports: 'The couple met about five years ago at a concert, and the first questions Gary asked were: Do you smoke and Who's your favorite football team? Shari answered "No" to the first one and "Bills" to the second. "When she told me Bills, I said, 'That's so cool,' " said Gary, whose late father hooked him on the team years ago. When Bills officials heard the Kums were on their honeymoon, they invited the couple to the camp's VIP section. Following the morning practice, Gary and Shari began their Finger Lakes vacation. They hope to take in a regular-season game at Ralph Wilson Stadium this fall.'

Marker Christie cherishes the 'sunshine' of kids [6:05 AM]
D and C reports: 'Christie has been with the Bills for nine seasons, and in that time he has broken most of the team records for kicking and scoring. But the 59-yard field goal and the 12 game-winning three-pointers pale in comparison to his work with Camp Good Days and Special Times. Continuing a tradition begun by former Bills kicker Scott Norwood, Christie donates money to the camp for each field goal he converts. Camp founder and director Gary Mervis says Christie has helped raise more than a quarter of a million dollars since becoming involved. The money has been used to construct a 35- by 18-foot arts and crafts building on the campgrounds near Keuka Lake.'

July 24, 2000

Marker Defense shows it's speed [11:47 PM]
Shout! reports: 'The Bills worked in their dime defense for a substantial amount of the afternoon practice. The dime line consisted of Erik Flowers at left end, Shawn Price at left tackle, Phil Hansen at right tackle and Sam Rogers at right end. Rogers, of course, is filling in for the injured Wiley.'

Marker Flowers sheds nerves in Bills camp debut [8:29 PM]
AP reports: 'Four days late, rookie defensive end Erik Flowers felt like all eyes were on him Monday morning. "It kind of reminds you of being a little five-year-old going to kindergarten class, but being late and everybody's watching you as you walk through the door," Flowers said after making his debut at Buffalo Bills training camp. "I was a little nervous during the beginning of the drills. But things started to fit in a little bit."'

Marker Marv Levy met with cheers at Buffalo Bills training camp [8:20 PM]
AP reports: 'Regarding Buffalo's many off-season moves, Levy said he became sentimental when the team cut veterans Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed last February. "I hated to see those three last remnants of all four Super Bowls go," he said, adding that he called all three of them the day after it was announced. "But I realize that faces change. When I first started coaching, Merlin Olsen and Deacon Jones were on the team I was coaching. It changes." Still, Levy remains impressed with his former team. "If I'm into predictions, and I will do this on my show, I'm going to say it's Indianapolis or Buffalo in the (AFC) East," Levy said. "(The Bills) have good depth at quarterback, excellent receivers. I'm impressed how they've kept the team going."'

Marker Former SU star Byrd leaves Bills' camp; Flowers signed [11:40 AM]
Syracuse Post-Standard reports: 'Former Syracuse University wide receiver David Byrd reportedly packed his belongings and left the Buffalo Bills training camp Sunday, stating he needed to attend to family problems, according to a source close to the NFL team...The Buffalo Bills signed rookie defensive end Erik Flowers on Sunday, the last of the team's eight draft picks to sign.'

Marker Buffalo Bills Survivor: The Winner!!! [11:06 AM]
TBD reports: The 15th castaway has been voted off Buffalo Bills Island, leaving only one survivor standing - Mr. Buffalo Bill! The voting wasn't lopsided, but it wasn't close either. The vote count was 110 to 64. Who won - Kelly or Tasker?

Marker Flutie acting out a real 'Second String' role [8:59 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Critics have said Flutie needs to stop wallowing in self-pity and get over it. They feel his constant harping on the past might have a negative effect on the team's preparation for the season. Don't buy it. It's highly doubtful Flutie's words bother the Bills one bit. If fact, they are glad to have a backup who believes he is worthy of being a starter. Furthermore, Phillips knows his team is in great shape at quarterback with a talented young starter and a proven veteran in reserve. You can count on one finger the number of NFL teams who have the same luxury.'

Marker Johnson aims to stay free of injuries [8:58 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"I'm not tired of hearing it (avoiding injury problems) because I want to do it," he said. "It's good motivation. I haven't done it yet. A lot of quarterbacks get hurt. You just have to stay away from the big injury. The hits you take, with the size of the guys hitting you, you're going to get some bumps and bruises week to week. You just have to avoid the things that keep you out a long time." "I can play with pain. It's not that. It's just the injuries I've had. The ribs are tough to play with quarterback-wise because it's tough to throw. The head was a fluke thing that I hope never happens again. I just have to stay away from the unlucky breaks."'

Marker Flowers finally signs contract, will practice today [8:56 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'So Flowers' deal figured to fall between $5.5 million and $6 million over five years with a signing bonus of $2 million to $2.5 million.'

Marker Rochester, Buffalo 2 cities, 1 team [6:34 AM]
Business First of Buffalo reports: 'Gaining support from Rochester-based corporations is one of the keys to the franchise's ability to compete financially in the NFL. Buffalo-area fans of the Bills may shudder at the thought of having to share their team with another city, but the economic reality of professional sports speaks to greater priorities -- survival. Population projections support the Bills' broad-based marketing strategy. The Buffalo metropolitan area continues to shrink, ranking among the NFL's smallest. By 2025, the region that stood among the nation's 20 largest markets when Ralph Wilson brought the team here in 1959, will be close to falling out of the top 50. While the loss of population put the Bills at a competitive disadvantage with its NFL brethren, the corresponding erosion of private sector businesses based here has created greater obstacles. When companies such as Trico, Bethlehem Steel and National Gypsum cut back their operations or moved, the core of corporate support here withered even as major professional sports franchises increasingly turned to local business in search of sponsorships. By stretching the Bills market, companies such as Wegmans are taking a higher profile in the team's marketing plans. The direct appeal to fans becomes stronger as well, as the players spend three weeks in Rochester each summer.'

Marker Levy evokes memories [6:18 AM]
D and C reports: 'Levy had a roster in his hands, and he said he counted only 21 players who were with the team when he last coached. Of course, the three most notable absences were Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed, all of whom were released in February. "I hated to see those last three remnants of all four Super Bowls go, but there are young players and things change," said Levy, a hint of sadness in his voice. "But I've said this before, when Babe Ruth left, Joe DiMaggio came, and when DiMaggio left, Mickey Mantle came. There is a changing of the guard. "When I came into my last camp, Jim Kelly (who retired following the 1996 season) wasn't there. If you coach long enough, great stars are going to leave. There was quite a bit of sentiment when I heard they were releasing them. John had told me a couple days before, and he told me it was going to be one of the toughest things he'd have to do."'

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