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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Santa comes through

     December 24, 1971 -- The Buffalo Bills badly needed a Christmas present this year. They had just suffered through a 1-13 season, and were a team that even O.J. Simpson couldn't help. Every Bills' fan must have written Santa Claus a letter, asking for help.

     Santa came through, and a day ahead of schedule no less. The Bills announced on this day that Lou Saban was returning to coach the team.

     The Bills had been around for 12 season at that point and gone through a few head coaches, but Saban was the only one who had made them a winner. He led Buffalo to consecutive AFL titles in 1964 and 1965.

     Saban then stunned everyone by leaving for the University of Maryland for the 1966 season. He only spent a year there, jumping to the Denver Broncos.

     Saban turned the Bills around after only a year of rebuilding, and got the Bills into the playoffs in 1974. He resigned from the coaching post in the middle of the 1976 season, and the Bills needed years to recover from it. Saban didn't return for a third act.

--- Budd Bailey

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