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  • Budd Bailey

Buffalo Bills: December 14, 1969 – Goodbye AFL

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

(Editor’s Note: Reedy Press has published “The Buffalo Bills: An Illustrated Timeline of a Storied Franchise.” The book was written by Greg Tranter and Budd Bailey; click here for more information. The authors wrote some potential chapters to the book that were not used, and didn’t want to put them to waste. Therefore, they thought people would like to read about those events from the team’s past on this site. It will give you a taste of what the text of the coffee-table book is like.)

When the American Football League merged with the National Football League in 1966, the clock started ticking. The two leagues were scheduled to play under their own names through 1969, and then they would fully combine to become one league under the NFL banner in 1970. Since the Bills didn’t reach the playoffs for the 1969 season, they played their last game as members of the AFL in mid-December, 1969.

Let’s say Buffalo didn’t exit on a high note. The Bills traveled all the way across the country to get clobbered by San Diego 45-6.

Just about everything worked for the Chargers, starting with their first offensive play. John Hadl threw to Gary Garrison for a 41-yard touchdown. Dennis Partee soon added a field goal to put San Diego up 10-0 after the first quarter. Gene Foster threw a 30-yard option pass to Rick Ebert for a score, and Hadl found Lance Alworth for a 41-yard touchdown strike. That made it 24-0 at halftime.

San Diego added three more scores in the second half and finished with 547 yards in total offense. Finally, and mercifully, the Bills crossed the goal line to avoid a shutout. Quarterback Tom Sherman threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to tight end Willie Grate, thus ensuring that both of them would be part of a very difficult trivia question for decades to come.

The Bills finished their days in the AFL with a 65-69-6 all-time record in the regular season, plus a 2-2 ledger in the playoffs.

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