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Bills two-time AFL champion, Al Bemiller passed away

Just Jack

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7 hours ago, TampaBillsJunkie said:

RIP. Mr. BeMiller was my high school wrestling coach at St. Francis for my 4 years there. We were ranked in the Top 10 in WNY and had won 3 titles while he was there.  He was a great coach and great guy to be around. He will be missed. My condolences to his family.

I was about to add this tidbit as well.  I need to know who some of you Red Raider alum are!

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I don't know if he still lived there when he died, but he lived in Cheektowaga. I remember he ran for town councilman in he mid 70s (but didn't  win. Lived in the neighborhood across from Cheektowaga Central HS according to friends that lived in that neighborhood. 

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22 hours ago, Jim Gehman said:

I was fortunate to have talked with Al a couple times and hope this excerpt will help tell some of the team’s younger fans what he did for the Bills.


Dropping the Anchor


Beginning in 1961 and through the next eight seasons, the Bills played 126 regular-season games; 42 preseason games; and four post-season games, including for the 1964, 1965 and 1966 AFL championships. Some games they won, some they lost, and some they even tied. But what was by and large the same regardless of the outcome was that No. 50, Al Bemiller, would be anchoring the offensive line at center. And when he was not there, he was just one step away and playing at guard. What does he attribute that dependability to?


"The big L! Luck! A lot of luck," said the modest and humorous Bemiller. "And also I tell people that I always tried to stay away from the big boys [on opposing defensive lines] because I did all the line calls. I’d see big Ernie Ladd sitting off to my left and I was supposed to get him, I’d sic [Billy] Shaw on him. I’d go the opposite direction." All kidding aside, Bemiller proved to be as reliable and as tough as a 10-penny nail. Without question, he had his share of injuries, but pain was not going to sideline the Syracuse alumnus.


"Back then we only had 33 ballplayers. You had to play," Bemiller said. "It wasn’t like today where you take off a couple days off, a couple weeks off, or a month off. You come back and you get your job back. It wasn’t that way. If you got injured, unless you were a superstar, you’re gone! So I played through injuries, sure. Not major ones. I was very, very lucky."


That was until the 1969 season finale in San Diego, a 45-6 loss to the Chargers. Bemiller tore a ligament in his knee that required surgery. Still, it was not the injury that put him on the sideline.


"No, I was in very good shape. I came back [for the 1970 season] and there were no problems with my knee. Then [John] Rauch came in [as head coach] and cleaned house," said Bemiller. "Of course, I was in pretty good company. Guys like [Ron] McDole, who later on became an all-time great in Washington. And he got rid of [Booker] Edgerson. He got rid of a bunch of us. I could have gone on and played. I was picked up by Detroit, and at the time, I had just opened a nightclub out in Hamburg, and it was going great guns. So I thought, ‘No, I’m going to stay here with the club,’ and that’s what I did.


"Now years and years and years later, you think, ’Jeez, why didn’t I go for that?’ I had another two, three, four years in me. I know I did. I was very lucky in the sense that my body at that time was very young. It didn’t bother me. It got easier for me. The training camps, believe it or not, got easier for me. You know when to run, when to sit, when to take a drink of water, all that kind of stuff. Of course then you think back, if I would have gone then I could have really got hurt. So I had a great career."

Very interesting to hear old stories . . . where is this from?


Condolences and prayers to Todd and the rest of Al's family!

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