The Buffalo Bills lost two of the greatest players in franchise history within three days of one another forty years ago this week. On June 11, 1970, guard Billy Shaw retired. Two days later, a retirement dinner was held for quarterback Jack Kemp.
Shaw was drafted in 1961, and he won three straight Eastern Division titles and two American Football League championships in 1964 and 1965 with the team. He played his entire career in the American Football League, and was named a first-team All-AFL selection four times (1963 through 1966) and second team All-AFL in 1968 and 1969. He played in eight AFL All-Star Games, and was named to the All-Time All-AFL Team. He made pro football's All-Decade team of the 1960s, and is the only player ever inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame without playing in the NFL.
After spending time bouncing around various NFL teams, Kemp signed with the San Diego Chargers of the AFL in 1960. After an injury forced him out of the lineup, the Chargers thought they could get away with waiving Kemp to get the roster spot and re-sign him later. The Bills swooped in, though, and Lou Saban claimed the QB for one hundred dollars. Kemp led Buffalo to four straight years in the AFL playoffs, three consecutive Eastern Division titles, and two straight AFL Championships. He led the AFL in career passes attempted, completions, and yards gained passing, played in five of the AFL's ten Championship Games, and holds the same career records (passing attempts, completions, and yardage) for championships. Kemp was named AFL MVP in 1965. He went on to a hugely successful political career after retiring from football, serving as a Congressman, Housing Secretary, and running for President and Vice President of the United States.
Both are members of the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame, the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, and the AFL Hall of Fame. Both were also selected to Buffalo's 25th Anniversary team, with Shaw remaining on the 50th Anniversary team while Jim Kelly bumped Kemp from the quarterback position.