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From Wild West to NFL

On June 12, 1873, Buffalo Bill Cody, Texas Jack Omohundro, and Ned Buntline stopped in Buffalo, New York, with their Scouts of the Prairie tour. They had actually played in Buffalo earlier that year, back on January 27th and 28th, but as Winter had turned first to Spring and then to Summer, demand to see The Scouts again was incredibly high, and they made a return appearance.


Though the show had lost its leading star in Giuseppina Morlacchi a month earlier, by this point the names Buffalo Bill and Texas Jack were enough to fill the Academy of Music past capacity, as attested by mentions of the Scouts' return in the Buffalo Evening Post, which warned that "This evening Ned Buntline, with his favorite companions, Buffalo Bill and Texas Jack, will appear at the Academy, and we anticipate that the house will be crowded to suffocation."



The city of Buffalo retains a connection with the Wild West showmen who appeared at the Academy of Music 150 years ago in the name of its NFL team. Buffalo had several professional teams prior to World War II, such as the Buffalo All-Stars, the Buffalo Niagaras, and the Buffalo Prospects. The Buffalo Indians team ended when their league folded at the outset of the war, and after the war, the team was reconstituted as the Buffalo Bisons. A year later, in 1947, a contest was held to rename the team. James F. Dyson wrote an essay comparing the team to a band of "Buffalo Bills" and team owner James Breuil, who also owned the Frontier Oil Company, loved the connection to the American frontier legend. When the votes were tallied, the winner by popular decision was the Buffalo Bills, named after the famous scout turned showman who had passed away thirty years earlier.



Buffalo Bill's Wild West started with the Star Spangled Banner (before it was the National Anthem) and military salutes and ceremonies, the same way that the anthem and flyovers are an ingrained part of the spectacle of modern sports, including professional football.



Thirteen years after the naming of the Buffalo Bills, the NFL's first modern-era expansion team, which had been known as the Steers and the Rangers, officially changed its name to the Dallas Cowboys. Nearly 100 years after Buffalo Bill and Texas Jack popularised their version of the Wild West, their images and iconography were ingrained into the sport of professional football, which also incorporated other Wild West themes, such as calling quarterbacks "gunslingers."

The two teams first met in the 1971 season, and have since competed against each other 13 times, including the 1993 and 1994 Super Bowls, both of which were won by Dallas, who leads the series 8-5. Just like the citizens of Buffalo, New York, could go to their local theater in 1873 and see Buffalo Bill Cody and the famous cowboy Texas Jack Omohundo, people can now head to Highmark Stadium to see a matchup between two NFL teams inspired by those legends of the American West.

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