The Buffalo Bills of the St. John Fisher era were marred by mediocre play, failed franchise Quarterbacks, and a revolving door of coaches. Yet, every July and August, Bills fans from across the region piled on to the $1 buses to experience the hope and newness that training camp brings. From autographs to games to fried food, Bills camp had something for the whole family. For most of the 21st century, the Bills didn’t do much well. But they ran one of the best training camp experiences in the entire NFL.
Oh, and it gave some pretty legendary stories.
Regardless of the season outlook of the Bills, training camp has brought us fascinating camp battles and storylines that you had to be there to believe. What are some of the crazier, most “Billsy” training camp has given us? There is a lot to choose from.
1.Troy Vincent vs J.P. Losman’s Leg
NFL executive Troy Vincent? The very same. Troy Vincent came to Buffalo in the 2004 offseason to provide secondary depth. More notably the Bills took Drew Bledsoe’s heir in J.P. Losman in the first round of the 2004 draft. Coming off two preseason games where he went 9-11 passing for 78 yards, Losman was run over by the then NFLPA president. The hit broke Losman’s leg, effectively ending his rookie year as Losman would throw just five passes in 2004. You know the rest.
2. Aaron Maybin vs Eric Wood
Fresh off a season where rookie Aaron Maybin sat out training camp and put up a total of 18 tackles and zero sacks, he came to St. John Fisher needing to produce. How did that manifest itself? Well, with Aaron Maybin laying a hit on franchise running back Fred Jackson, igniting a brawl that has gone down in Bills lore for one famous Eric Woods quote, “Give back some of that money you ain’t [expletive] earned!”
3. Terrell Owens Comes to Camp
I was around 13 when Terrell Owens came to Buffalo. The Bills had good players prior to TO’s arrival, but never in my life (as a fan) had Buffalo had a certified megastar. In the era of superstar Wide Receivers, Owens was the most super of them all. Prior to even attending camp, Owens had been given the keys to the City of Buffalo and all sorts of Terrell Owens-themed products in the Bills store and even on the shelves of Tops. The camp was abuzz just to see Owens run with Bills starting QB Trent Edwards.
4. Kevin Kolb vs A Mat
EJ Manuel was never supposed to be the starter in year one. Former Eagles backup Kevin Kolb came in to be the bridge to EJ Manuel. All signs pointed towards him being the guy for the Bills in 2013 under first-year head coach Doug Marrone. Kevin Kolb could not have had a worse camp. Kolb slipped on a mat when transitioning between St. John Fisher’s grass and turf field and suffered a knee injury, forcing him to miss valuable camp snaps as EJ Manuel won over fans. It was an untimely concussion in a preseason game against Washington that ended his career, but “the mat” remains a part of Bills lore to this day.
5. The Ryan Brothers Circus
If Rex Ryan was a meme factory, his brother Rob was an entire meme plant. Rob Ryan, once considered one of the best defensive minds in the game, joined a crowded coaching staff in year two of the Rex Ryan experience. Did it yield better results? Absolutely not. But did we get barrels of content such as the Ryan Brothers on a tandem bike? You bet we did. Hiring Rex Ryan may have been the worst thing Terry and Kim ever did, but at least we got some laughs (I guess?)
What did I miss? Let me know @sportroc2 and follow my podcast @585report with Mitch Broder.
All stats from pro football reference