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Bills, Oilers mementos showcased for HOF Game

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07/21/2009


 

Several weeks ago, a display was created to showcase mementos provided to the Hall of Fame by Ralph Wilson, Jr. and Bud Adams. Late Friday, on the eve of the enshrinement, curator Jason Aikens adds the Oilers’ AFL championships to the display. Adams personally delivered them to Canton earlier in the day.



Fans visiting the museum during the upcoming Enshrinement Festival will be treated to some treasured artifacts thanks to the two remaining original AFL owners. Class of 2009 enshrinee Ralph Wilson has owned the Buffalo Bills since its beginning in the AFL in 1960. Bud Adams, the Titans owner, founded the franchise as the Houston Oilers 50 years ago.

Ralph Wilson, Jr. and K.S. "Bud" Adams talk during a reception on Friday.
Both Wilson and Adams shipped several mementos from the league’s early years to Canton. The pieces will be on display in a special exhibit focusing on the two clubs. Another exhibit titled, Remember the AFL opened at the Hall of Fame in May and focuses on the eight original AFL teams. The exhibit will be open through February 2010. A complement to the exhibit is the special website section, 50 Years After.

Among the many Oilers mementos arriving at the Hall of Fame was the jersey worn by long-time defensive back Jim Norton who played for the team from 1960-68. He was the last original Oilers player to retire and at the time was the AFL’s career leader in interceptions with 45. To honor his achievements, the team made his No. 43 the first jersey in team history to be retired. His career interception total remains a franchise best today.

Also among the other pieces Adams, who serves on the Board of Trustees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, sent were photos, and special patches from the Oilers and Titans past.

On Monday, Bills staff members visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame to prepare for the upcoming Enshrinement Festival in early August. At Wilson’s request, they brought several significant pieces from the Bills past including the two AFL championship trophies the club won in 1964 and 1965. Wilson also had several other mementos delivered to Canton such as personal plaques and three special footballs given to him over years.

Wilson will be formally enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, August 8 at 7:00 p.m. The Bills and Titans, both who will take the field in throwback AFL uniforms, start the 2009 NFL preseason in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on Sunday, August 9 at 8:00 p.m.

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