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This Day in Bills History, Dec. 9: Left out in the cold

Dec. 9, 1949 – Buffalo has a history of being on the outside looking in when it comes to a major league baseball franchise, at least since 1900. The trend continued in football, at least for a while.

Buffalo was a member of the All-America Football Conference from 1946 to 1949. The circuit was a rival to the National Football League. You can guess how that played out – teams from both leagues spent more money than they wanted, and player salaries went way up. So it was off to the negotiating table to put together some sort of merger.

Today is the anniversary of that merger plan. The NFL agreed to take in Cleveland, San Francisco and Baltimore for the 1950 season. That meant every city that had pro football in 1949 would have pro football in 1950. Except one. Buffalo.

The Bills were left out of the merger, even though the team had drawn well and been relatively successful on the field. The area didn't react well to the snub, and the strong reaction probably helped when the American Football League – specifically, Ralph Wilson – went looking for cities about a decade later.

The Browns had won every AAFC title, and there was talk that they would return to earth when they played in the NFL in 1950. Hardly. Cleveland won that title, too.

Budd Bailey is a retired sports reporter and editor at The Buffalo News. He is also the author of "Today in Buffalo Sports History." Learn more about the book here.

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