Bills Toronto Series

The Bills Toronto Series was a series of National Football League (NFL) games featuring the Buffalo Bills played at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The original series began in the 2008 season and ran through 2012. The Bills were originally scheduled to play eight (later reduced to seven) home games over five seasons as part of the agreement, which included one regular-season game each of the five years and one pre-season game on the first, third and (originally) fifth year of the series. This included the first regular-season NFL game played in Canada, which the Bills lost to the Miami Dolphins.[1] The agreement was renewed for five additional years, with an annual regular season game and one preseason game, on January 29, 2013,[2] but following the 2013 contest it was announced that the 2014 game had been postponed for a year.[3] On December 3, 2014, it was announced that a deal had been reached to terminate the remainder of the contract, ending the Bills' experiment in Toronto.[4][5]

The series was conceived by a group that included former Bills owner Ralph Wilson, Ted Rogers of Rogers Communications and Larry Tanenbaum of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.[6]

Bills toronto series logo
Bills Toronto Series Logo

Background

Although NFL exhibition games have been played in Canada since 1950 (and even before that, the American Football League of 1926 played a regular-season game in Toronto), it was not until the Bills Toronto Series that a regular-season NFL game was played north of the border, on December 7, 2008.[1] Regular season NFL games have been played outside the United States since 2005, with Fútbol Americano (a one-off regular season game in Mexico City) and the 2007 debut of the NFL International Series, which has promoted regular-season games in London. Both of those events were separate from the Toronto Series, in that the Toronto Series was orchestrated by an individual team while the other regular season games were orchestrated by the league.

Toronto is about 60 miles (97 km) by air from Buffalo and 86 miles (138 km) by car via the Queen Elizabeth Way. Much of southern Ontario is within the Bills' marketing territory as defined by the NFL.[7] About 10,000 to 15,000 attendees (15-20% of the total) of Bills' home games at Ralph Wilson Stadium come from southern Ontario.[8][9] However, a 2012 poll by Sun Media found that the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots (a divisional rival of the Bills) were more popular than the Bills in Toronto.[10]

Apart from the NHL (which is the only major sports league with teams in Buffalo and Toronto), teams from the two cities often host games in the other. The Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League played a preseason game at Buffalo's Civic Stadium in 1951.[11] A similar arrangement saw the Buffalo Braves play a total of 16 regular season games at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto from 1971 to 1975,[12] while the Toronto Raptors played a preseason game at Marine Midland Arena in Buffalo in 1996[13][14] and had a second game scheduled for 1998 that was cancelled due to the 1998–99 NBA lockout.[15] The Raptors have discussed the possibility of playing additional preseason and regular season games in Buffalo,[16] while the Toronto Blue Jays have considered playing an exhibition game in Buffalo, which is home to their Triple-A affiliate the Buffalo Bisons,[17] having previously played the Cleveland Indians in an exhibition game at War Memorial Stadium in 1987.[18] In 1974, the Toronto-Buffalo Royals of World Team Tennis (WTT) simultaneously called both cities home, playing half their home matches at the CNE Coliseum in Toronto and the other half at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium.[19] The franchise was originally granted to Toronto to begin play in WTT's inaugural 1974 season,[20] but management decided to play in both cities. The Royals were sold and moved to Hartford, Connecticut following the 1974 season,[21] but folded on February 1, 1975, without ever playing another match.[22]

Rogers Centre's capacity (54,000 seats) currently is slightly lower than the number of seats for a stadium to be a viable venue for a permanent Toronto team as all other NFL stadiums have at least 60,000 seats as of 2011.[23] It is typically configured at 49,500 seats for Blue Jays baseball, though more were added for the 2008 Bills games for a total of 54,000.[24]

Toronto Series games were the only NFL games not subject to the league's blackout restrictions. For instance, the 2010 Toronto Series preseason game had nearly 15,000 available seats but was still seen on television within the stadium's blackout zone. All of the Bills Toronto Series games have aired either at 4 p.m. or during Thursday Night Football; Rogers owns the Canadian television rights to NFL games aired in those time slots (whereas rival Bell Media owns the rights to all other NFL games).

History

Original Deal

In September 2006, Tanenbaum and Rogers held a news conference, where the two men discussed bringing an NFL franchise to Toronto.[23] Neither specified whether a potential Toronto team would be a new franchise or a team moved from another city. Tanenbaum was quoted as saying, "I'm highly interested in an NFL team and Ted is, too. We hope to pursue it more rigorously as soon as the NFL gives us the word."[23]

In October 2007, Bills owner Ralph Wilson petitioned NFL owners to allow his team to play one "home" game per year (over five years) in Canada. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell approved the plan, which also allowed the Bills to also play a pre-season "home" game at Roger Centre every other year of the Series (2008, 2010, 2012) for a total of eight games in Toronto.[25] In February 2008, Wilson avoided questions about a possible permanent move for the Bills to Toronto while discussing "high rates" for Series ticket prices.[6] The deal Wilson struck with the Toronto group allows them to bid on and relocate other available NFL franchises up for sale.[6]

Rogers Communications reported a Series payment of CA$78 million to the Buffalo Bills in their Q1 2008 financial report, which, according to Forbes, is more than the team earned (in operating income) in 2006.[26] The series set the record for the largest gate revenue for a single event in the history of the Rogers Centre, at C$8 million, although this was later surpassed by UFC 129.[27]

Renewal

On May 22, 2012, the league gave their approval for a five-year extension to the Bills Toronto Series through 2017 should the two sides reach an agreement.[28] The deal, featuring one regular season game each year plus a pre-season game in 2015, was formally announced on January 29, 2013.[29] Financial terms of the renewal agreement were not disclosed, but it was reported that Rogers paid roughly half of the $78 million the original deal cost.[30][31]

With the series entering its second phase, a perceived lack of interest amongst Toronto fans and the diminishing crowds attending games have been criticized.[32] The first four years of the series were widely suspected to have included large ticket giveaways ("'papering' the stadium") in order to increase attendance.[33] A large attendance drop from about 50,000 to 40,000 occurred in 2012 as the practice wound down, while attendance fell even further during the first year of the new deal in 2013. Attendance concerns have led to a scaling back of strategic objectives. At the time of renewal, the series was presented as a simple business deal offering lucrative NFL content to Rogers and increased revenue to the Bills with no hint of possible team relocation.[31]

Reception in Buffalo

With the future of Bills continually in doubt, fan reaction in Buffalo to the Toronto series has ranged from "outright anger [to] begrudging acceptance" that the revenue provided helps the team. Many Buffalo fans refuse to attend games in Toronto.[34] Specific fan objections to the Toronto games include the perception that Rogers Centre is less raucous than Orchard Park and that the city is a neutral site rather than a home game. Bills CEO Russ Brandon has suggested that the team deserves some of the blame for this, as the Bills have not had a competitive team since the series was launched.[35][36] Poor turf has been noted in the Rogers Centre.[37] Also, the playing of the games late in the season meant the Bills lost the advantage of being acclimatized to playing in cold, wintery conditions that visiting teams are unused to.[38]

Brandon has noted one success: attendance by Canadian fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium had increased from 11% to 20% at the time of the renewal agreement.[31] Brandon has said that "Southern Ontario and the Toronto market and the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) are now the top secondary market of the Buffalo Bills".[35] The Bills in Toronto has been widely held up as an effort at "regionalization" by the franchise.[35][39]

Postponement and cancellation

Following the first game of the renewal in 2013, Brandon brought the future of the series into question by stating that he intended to conduct a thorough review of the series. He described Toronto as a "challenged market" for the Bills and stated that the series "has not translated into enough wins for us there". The Bills record in the Toronto series has been 1 win and 5 losses. When asked if the Bills were able to void the final years of the contract, Brandon responded that he was "going to look at everything".[39] Reports have suggested that the series can only be ended with the mutual consent of both parties.[40] However, Brandon also emphasized the financial benefits of the series by saying that it has "taken a game out of the [Buffalo] market that has essentially taken 70,000 seats out of our market, and we've truly only sold out two of our home games". He went on to say "we've manufactured sellouts in the other four or five. We're trying to find ways to obviously keep this team viable and we've done a very good job, and this [Toronto] series has obviously contributed to that."[39] Brandon has also said that the additional game would "stress-test the Buffalo market".[40]

On March 5, 2014, the Bills and Rogers released a joint statement which announced that they had "postponed for one year the scheduled 2014 regular season game at Rogers Centre" and that they would "use this time to collectively evaluate opportunities and build on the foundation to enhance future games."[3][41] Brandon described it as "a one-year postponement to go into a deeper dive of evaluation about the future"[40] so that the team has "a more robust fan experience and try to create more of a home field advantage for us."[35][36] Keith Pelley, President of Rogers Communications, said that "the plan is to postpone it for one year, regroup and determine what's the next best step".[36] Pelly said that "there's no hiding the fact the series did not get off to a rosy start" and that "it's tough midway through to change that perception, hence the reason why we thought it would be a best to take a year off then re-launch it once we've thought that through."[36]

According to Pelly, the contract between the Bills and Rogers is "not nullified" and is still in force.[36] The games were planned to be resumed in 2015, though more negotiations between the parties on the series were scheduled.[40] Pelly also raised the possibility that the series would be replaced by an NFL International Series game not featuring the Bills.[42]

Following the death of Wilson in late March 2014, Edward Rogers III and Larry Tanenbaum, board members of Toronto-based sports conglomerate Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, teamed with Jon Bon Jovi to submit a bid to purchase the team, with the expectation that they would relocate it to Toronto on a full-time basis. However, the team was ultimately sold to Kim and Terrence Pegula, who announced their intent to keep the team in Buffalo and end the Toronto Series in a November 2014 interview.[43] On December 3, 2014, it was announced that the Bills and Rogers Communications had reached an agreement to cancel the Toronto Series.[44]

Yearly summaries

2008

The Bills played two games (one pre-season) in 2008 at Rogers Centre. The pre-season opponent was the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bills defeated the Steelers 24–21 on August 14, 2008.[24] In the regular season, the Bills played (and lost to) the Miami Dolphins 16–3 on December 7 in front of 52,134 in attendance.[45] The Rogers Centre's roof was closed for the game, which meant the region's normally cold and windy December conditions with a gametime temperature of 16 °F (−9 °C) wouldn't influence the game.[46] Ticket prices for the Series were announced in May, and averaged C$183 per seat. In Buffalo, Bills tickets averaged C$51 per seat.[47] The Dolphins became the first team to play both an International Series and Toronto Series game from both games' inception.

2009

The Bills lost to the New York Jets, 19–13, in front of 51,567 under the roof at Rogers Centre on December 3. There was no pre-season game at Rogers Centre in 2009. In 2009, the Bills Toronto Series also announced a ticket price reduction plan, cutting prices by an average of 17% and offering more than 11,000 tickets for less than C$99.[48] Rogers Communications offered partial refunds to ticketholders who had purchased seats in 2008 and who were affected by the price reduction.[48]

2010

The preseason game, which took place August 19, featured the Bills hosting the Indianapolis Colts. The Bills defeated the Colts 34–21.[49]

For the first time, the 2010 regular-season Toronto game took place during the 2010 CFL season and not after it; it was played on November 7, the last week of the CFL's regular season, with a 1:00 p.m. start (the Toronto Argonauts played the Montreal Alouettes in Montreal on the same day, but with a 4:00 p.m. start). The Bills faced the Chicago Bears, marking the first time a team from the NFC appeared in the series. As part of the NFL Television Contract the game was broadcast by Fox for the first time and not CBS. The Bills relinquished a five-point mid-fourth-quarter lead, falling 22–19 to the Bears.[50]

2011

The Bills played host to the Washington Redskins for the 2011 Toronto Series on Sunday, October 30, at 4:05 p.m.[51] The Bills, in their first regular-season win in the series, defeated the Redskins 23–0, the first time Redskins coach Mike Shanahan had been shut out in his career. The game marked the peak of the Bills' fortunes that season, with the Bills reaching 5–2; a series of key injuries led to the team collapsing over the next several games to fall out of playoff contention for the twelfth straight year.

This season also marked the 20th anniversary of the Bills playing the Redskins in Super Bowl XXVI. It marked the only time in the Toronto Series that attendance rose over the previous season, with the game seeing a slight increase from 50,746 to 51,579, significantly below the team's average of 69,282 that year. After this game, the attendance numbers dropped markedly over the next two seasons, dropping below 40,000 in 2013, contributing to the team's decision to postpone the series at the end of that year.

2012

The pre-season game originally scheduled for the fifth year of the series was cancelled, as home games for the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Argonauts[52] and a Bruce Springsteen concert[53] conflicted with the NFL pre-season. The lone available weekend on the Rogers Centre schedule coincided with the Bills' home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (whom the Bills played in their 2008 preseason game); that game was moved to Ralph Wilson Stadium and designated the team's annual "Kids Day."

The Bills faced the Seattle Seahawks in their regular-season Toronto Series game on December 16, at 4:05 p.m. Eastern Time on Fox. In Canada this game was broadcast on Citytv. The Seahawks defeated the Bills 50–17.[54] The half time performance was Psy who performed his hit "Gangnam Style".[55]

2013

The Bills hosted the Atlanta Falcons on December 1, 2013 at 4:05 p.m. They lost 34–31 in overtime. The lead see-sawed throughout the match, with the Bills holding on 31–24 late in the fourth quarter. A pass interference call against the Bills allowed Atlanta a touchdown from the one-yard line with 1:28 remaining. With 28 seconds remaining Bills' quarterback EJ Manuel completed a pass to Steve Johnson, which likely would have set up a game-winning field goal. However, before being tackled Johnson fumbled while Atlanta recovered, sending the game to overtime. Another Bills fumble in overtime set up Matt Bryant's winning field goal for Atlanta. Half time entertainment was provided by the Beach Boys.[56] Fewer than 40,000 fans attended the game, the smallest crowd of the series.

Game history

Preseason games

Date Visitor Score Home Stadium Attendance
August 14, 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers 21–24 Buffalo Bills Rogers Centre 48,434[57]
August 19, 2010 Indianapolis Colts 21–34 Buffalo Bills Rogers Centre 39,583[58]

Regular season games

Date Visitor Score Home Stadium Attendance
December 7, 2008 Miami Dolphins 16–3 Buffalo Bills Rogers Centre 52,134[59]
December 3, 2009 New York Jets 19–13 Buffalo Bills Rogers Centre 51,567[60]
November 7, 2010 Chicago Bears 22–19 Buffalo Bills Rogers Centre 50,746[61]
October 30, 2011 Washington Redskins 0–23 Buffalo Bills Rogers Centre 51,579[62]
December 16, 2012 Seattle Seahawks 50–17 Buffalo Bills Rogers Centre 40,770[63]
December 1, 2013 Atlanta Falcons 34–31 (OT) Buffalo Bills Rogers Centre 38,969[64]

See also

References

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  2. ^ Associated Press (2013-01-29). "Rebuilding Bills will continue to play in Toronto". Yahoo! Sports. Archived from the original on 2013-02-17. Retrieved 2013-01-29.
  3. ^ a b "Buffalo Bills & Rogers Media postpone Toronto series for 2014". Buffalo Bills. 2014-03-05. Retrieved 2014-03-08.
  4. ^ "Bills reach deal to terminate remaining Toronto games - Article - TSN". 3 December 2014.
  5. ^ Patra, Kevin (3 December 2014). "Buffalo Bills terminate Toronto series". National Football League. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  6. ^ a b c "Bills owner won't commit to team's future in Buffalo". USA Today. Associated Press. 2008-02-06.
  7. ^ Brady, Erik. "As Bills head for Toronto, can Canada work as an NFL home?" USA Today, 4 December 2008.
  8. ^ Warner, Gene. "Bills-Jets still tough to sell in Toronto" The Buffalo News, 3 December 2009.
  9. ^ Gaughan, Mark (2011-03-30). Toronto deal paying off for Bills. The Buffalo News. Retrieved 2011-03-30.
  10. ^ "Canada's favourite NFL teams". NFL Canada. 2012-11-28. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
  11. ^ "Tiger-Cats trounce Argos before 18,146 Buffalo fans". Ottawa Citizen. 19451-08-13. Retrieved 2013-11-03. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  12. ^ Buffery, Steve (2004-11-03). "The road was paved". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2013-10-08.
  13. ^ Young, Chris (1996-10-19). "Raptors suffer from Heat stroke with poor effort". Toronto Star.
  14. ^ "2009-10 Raptors Preseason Media Guide" (PDF). Toronto Raptors. 2009. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
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  16. ^ "Raptors exploring playing pre-season games in Buffalo". The Sports Network. 2008-07-02. Retrieved 2013-10-08.
  17. ^ "Triple-A Buffalo switches affiliation". ESPN. 2012-09-21. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
  18. ^ "It's Blue Jays day in Buffalo: Thoughts on two big questions about the new parent club". Buffalo News. 2012-09-21. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
  19. ^ Li, Justin (October 15, 2013). "A League of Their Own: A Brief History of Defunct Toronto Sports Teams". The Grid. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  20. ^ Janoff, Murray (July 7, 1973). "Tennis: New Pro Circuit". Sporting News.
  21. ^ "WTT Franchise Sold to Harford, Conn". Playground Daily News. October 17, 1974. p. 18.
  22. ^ "New Boston Net Team Obtains Six Backers". Berkshire Eagle. March 28, 1975. p. 18.
  23. ^ a b c Care, Tony (2006-10-09). "Is Toronto ready for some NFL football?". CBC News.
  24. ^ a b Ralph, Dan (2008-08-14). "McKelvin's Kickoff Return TD Helps Bills Down Steelers 24-21 In Rogers Centre Exhibition". Archived from the original on 2009-01-03.
  25. ^ "NFL franchise in Toronto? CFL commish would appreciate partnership". Associated Press. 2007-11-23.
  26. ^ "Bills to be paid C$78 million to play eight games in Toronto". CBSSports.com. 2008-04-28.
  27. ^ "UFC 129 sellout means more Toronto shows". Yahoo!. 2011-02-15.
  28. ^ NFL approves five-year extension for Bills' Toronto series. SportsNetwork.com. Retrieved May 22, 2012.
  29. ^ "Rogers Media, Buffalo Bills extend Toronto deal". Buffalo Bills. 2013-01-29. Retrieved 2013-08-22.
  30. ^ Kryk, John (2014-03-05). "Since renewal, Bills making 'basically the same' money off Toronto games as regular home games". Toronto Sun. Archived from the original on 2014-12-03. Retrieved 2014-12-03.
  31. ^ a b c Canadian Press (29 January 2013). "Buffalo Bills renew agreement to play games in Toronto at Rogers Centre". www.680news.com/2013/01/29/buffalo-bills-renew-agreement-to-play-games-in-toronto-at-rogers-centre/. 680 News. Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  32. ^ Sobleski, Brent (1 December 2013). "Toronto Losing Interest In Bills". USA Today. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  33. ^ Kryk, John (26 November 2013). "Freebies-free Bills in Toronto game expected to draw 40,000". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  34. ^ Ballingall, Alex (10 December 2012). "Buffalo Bills renew agreement to play games in Toronto at Rogers Centre". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  35. ^ a b c d "Russ Brandon: "We'll have a full slate of games at Ralph Wilson Stadium"". Buffalo Bills. 2014-03-05. Retrieved 2014-03-08.
  36. ^ a b c d e "Bills postpone Toronto Series for one year". Sportsnet. 2014-03-05. Retrieved 2014-03-08.
  37. ^ Graham, Tim (1 December 2013). "Bills Notebook: Toronto Crowd Shifts Into Neutral". Buffalo News. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  38. ^ "Buffalo Bills 'postpone' home game in Toronto for upcoming NFL season". Toronto Star. March 5, 2014. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  39. ^ a b c Rodak, Mike (2013-12-04). "CEO: Bills to review Toronto future". ESPON. Retrieved 2014-03-08.
  40. ^ a b c d Kryk, John (2014-03-05). "Bills-in-Toronto series shelved for 2014". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2014-03-08.
  41. ^ "No Toronto in 2014." WGR. Retrieved March 5, 2014. "WGR has learned that the Buffalo Bills will not play in Toronto this season. The future of the Toronto Series is unclear. Keep it locked to WGR for details"
  42. ^ "Prime Time Sports". 2014-03-06. Event occurs at 5pm. Sportsnet Radio. 590 The Fan. Missing or empty |series= (help)
  43. ^ Wawrow, John (November 5, 2014). Bills owners commit to new home Archived November 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Associated Press. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  44. ^ "Bills and Rogers Communications agree to terminate Toronto series". Buffalo Bills. 2014-12-03. Retrieved 2014-12-03.
  45. ^ Harrington, Mike (2008-12-08). "The Miami Dolphins feel right at home in Toronto".
  46. ^ "Cross-border flop for Bills". The Canadian Press. 2008-12-07.
  47. ^ "Bills tickets for games in Toronto average $183". Associated Press. 2008-05-07.
  48. ^ a b "Toronto ticket prices reduced for Bills". Business First of Buffalo. 2009-04-13.
  49. ^ "Bills defeat Colts at Rogers Centre". CBC News. 2010-08-20. Retrieved 2011-03-09.
  50. ^ Brown, Chris (2010-11-07). "Bills let fourth quarter lead slip in loss to Bears". buffalobills.com. Retrieved 2011-03-09.
  51. ^ "Buffalo Bills 2011 Schedule".
  52. ^ "Bills' pre-season game in Toronto moving back to Buffalo". Associated Press. 2012-02-21.
  53. ^ "Bills to host Seahawks in Toronto game". Associated Press. 2012-04-17. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
  54. ^ "The Shame Report: Week 15". National Football League. 2012-12-18. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
  55. ^ Katz, Michael (2012-12-17). "Bills vs Seahawks: Streaker, Psy halftime show make for best-possible Bills experience". USA Today.
  56. ^ "Bills lose OT heartbreaker to Falcons in Toronto". Rogers Media. 2013-12-01.
  57. ^ "PRESEASON WEEK 3, 2008 - Pittsburgh Steelers @ Buffalo Bills" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  58. ^ "PRESEASON WEEK 2, 2010 - Indianapolis Colts @ Buffalo Bills" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  59. ^ "WEEK 14, 2008 - Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  60. ^ "WEEK 13, 2009 - New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  61. ^ "WEEK 9, 2010 - Chicago Bears @ Buffalo Bills" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  62. ^ "WEEK 8, 2011" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-12-20.
  63. ^ "WEEK 15, 2012 - BILLS IN TORONTO SERIES" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-12-20.
  64. ^ "WEEK 13, 2013 - BILLS IN TORONTO SERIES" (PDF). National Football League. 2013-12-01. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
2008 Buffalo Bills season

The 2008 Buffalo Bills season was the 39th season for the team in the National Football League and their 49th season overall. The team finished with a record of 7–9 for the third consecutive year. It started the season 5–1 before a 2–8 stretch to finish the season.

After a 5–1 beginning to the season, starting quarterback Trent Edwards suffered a concussion in Week Five at Arizona after an Adrian Wilson hit. Edwards had started the year throwing 4 touchdowns and two interceptions through the first five games. After the injury, he threw 7 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, before missing two of the final four games of the season with a groin injury. After their 4–0 start, the Bills won only three of their final 12 games of the year.

Despite strong years from second-year running back Marshawn Lynch (1,036 rushing yards, 1,336 yards from scrimmage) and wide receiver Lee Evans (1,017 receiving yards), the team was eliminated from playoff contention in week 15, which secured their ninth straight year without a playoff appearance.

2009 Buffalo Bills season

The 2009 Buffalo Bills season was the 50th Professional Football season for the original American Football League team, and its 40th in the NFL. The Bills were unable to improve upon their third consecutive 7–9 regular season record (2006, 2007 and 2008) and failed to make the playoffs for the 10th consecutive year, the longest standing playoff drought in the NFL. Dick Jauron returned as head coach for a fourth season, the first Bills coach since Marv Levy to receive a contract extension beyond three years. He was fired on November 17 after a 3–6 start and replaced on an interim basis by defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, who was fired at the end of the season, but not before starting Ryan Fitzpatrick for the rest of the season.

2010 Buffalo Bills season

The 2010 Buffalo Bills season was the team's 41st season in the National Football League and their 51st overall. It was Buffalo's first season with Buddy Nix in the role of general manager and head coach Chan Gailey. The Bills hoped to improve on their 6–10 record from the 2009 season, and attempt to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999, the longest standing playoff drought in the NFL. The Bills had the 9th pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft selecting C. J. Spiller, a running back from Clemson. This season marks the first 0–8 start since 1984, in which they finished 2-14. They were eliminated from playoff contention in Week 12, extending their playoff drought to 11 seasons. Despite the poor start, Buffalo became largely competitive after the bye in Week 9. Their next four losses were by only three points each, all to teams that made the playoffs in 2011—Baltimore, Kansas City, Chicago and Pittsburgh (three of these losses went to overtime). The Bills eventually won four of their final eight games, which carried over into a strong start to the 2011 season. The 2010 season was marked by the emergence of wide receiver Stevie Johnson, who gained 1,073 receiving yards and nose tackle Kyle Williams, an All-Pro in 2010 who gained status as an elite defensive tackle.

2011 Washington Redskins season

The 2011 Washington Redskins season was the franchise's 80th season in the National Football League (NFL) and their 75th representing the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.). Their home games were played at FedExField in Landover, Maryland for the 15th consecutive year. Washington played in the Eastern division of the National Football Conference (NFC). The Redskins failed to improve on their 2010 record of 6–10, but did manage to defeat the New York Giants, the eventual Super Bowl champions, twice in the regular season, becoming only the sixth team to do so (the 1969 Oakland Raiders, 1983 Seattle Seahawks, 1995 Washington Redskins, 2002 New Orleans Saints, and 2007 Dallas Cowboys, also against the Giants, being the others).

2012 Buffalo Bills season

The 2012 Buffalo Bills season was the franchise's 43rd season in the National Football League, the 53rd overall and the third under head coach Chan Gailey. The team had hoped to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999, but failed and continue to own the NFL's longest playoff drought.

2012 was the final year on the Bills' current lease with Ralph Wilson Stadium as well as the final year on the current Bills Toronto Series agreement. The league had approved an additional five-year extension of the Toronto series, extending through 2017, on the condition that the Bills and Rogers Communications come to an agreement extending the series, a condition that both sides have indicated willingness to do. The Bills and the league are demanding significant and expensive renovations to Ralph Wilson Stadium as a condition of renewing the stadium lease. The Buffalo News reported renovations could top 200 million dollars. The Bills and Erie County (the owners of Ralph Wilson Stadium) missed the deadline for a long-term agreement in September 2012. However, on December 21, the Bills agreed with Erie County to a 10-year lease on Ralph Wilson Stadium, extending it through for at least another 7 years.

2013 Buffalo Bills season

The 2013 Buffalo Bills season was the franchise's 44th season in the National Football League and the first under head coach Doug Marrone. It was also the final season under the ownership of Ralph Wilson, who died in March 2014 at the age of 95. The team equaled their record from 2012 and missed the playoffs, increasing their playoff drought to 14 seasons. This was the first year of renewed leases on Ralph Wilson Stadium and for the Bills Toronto Series, both of which were signed in the preceding offseason. The Toronto series was originally set to expire in 2017, but was cancelled in December 2014; the lease on Ralph Wilson Stadium expires in 2022 and will presumably be the last agreement with the aging stadium, as the lease specifies that the process of exploring a new stadium begins during the lease period. The Bills also started the 2013 season with a new starting quarterback, first-round draft pick EJ Manuel, after previous starter Ryan Fitzpatrick refused a pay cut and was subsequently released.

2014 Buffalo Bills season

The 2014 Buffalo Bills season was the franchise's 45th season in the National Football League, 55th season of competition, second under head coach Doug Marrone and the first in franchise history without Ralph Wilson as owner. The Bills improved on their 6–10 record from 2013, finishing with a 9–7 record, their first winning season since 2004, but it still didn't help the team make the playoffs.

Bills–Jets rivalry

The Bills–Jets rivalry is a rivalry between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets in the National Football League. Both of these teams play in the same division (AFC East) and as a result, play two scheduled games each season. Both represent the same state, New York, with the Bills having their primary fan base in Western New York, and the Jets in the New York City area. They have a long history between each other, as they were original members of the American Football League in 1960.

This rivalry is fueled primarily by the differences between New York City and the rest of New York State, and also by the Bills claiming to be the only team in New York due to the Jets and their NFC counterparts New York Giants actually playing their games in East Rutherford, New Jersey, a suburb of the city. However, the two teams have rarely been successful at the same time, and as such, their rivalry usually lacks the intensity that is present in other rivalries, such as the Jets' rivalry with the Patriots and the Bills' with the Dolphins. There have only been four seasons in which both the Bills and Jets finished with winning records. Regardless, the two teams share a bond due to similarities in their team playing styles and luck.

The Bills lead the overall series, 62–55. The Bills won the two teams' only postseason meeting, defeating the Jets 31–27 in the 1981 AFC Wild Card round.

China Bowl (NFL)

The China Bowl was the name of a proposed National Football League (NFL) pre-season exhibition game that had been scheduled to take place in August 2007, but later postponed to 2009 and ultimately canceled, between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks at the National Stadium in Beijing.The originally scheduled China Bowl was to be played at Workers' Stadium in Beijing, China, on August 8, 2007. The game was to kick off the one-year countdown before the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and was to take place right before the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup (also being held in China), and would have been the first NFL-sanctioned game to take place in China, as well as the first NFL preseason game played outside the United States since the league abandoned the American Bowl series in 2005 (game 1 of the Bills Toronto Series held that honor).

On April 2, 2007, the NFL announced the rescheduling of the preseason game in Beijing to August 2009, so that more focus could be placed on the start of the International Series, the first regular season game to take place outside of North America, which took place at Wembley Stadium, London that October. Both teams expressed interest in still playing the game, and the Patriots, having operations in China at the time, would have been an opponent either way.

As a result of the 2008 recession, the Patriots shut down their base of operations in China, and the game was never played. The Patriots were instead assigned to the next game in the International Series, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which was played at Wembley on October 25, 2009. The Patriots won 35–7. Since then, the NFL has not openly expressed interest in scheduling any game, whether preseason or regular season, in China or any other Asian country.

Compass Media Networks

Compass Media Networks is an American radio network. The company launched in January 2009.

It is owned by former Westwood One CEO and former COO of Connoisseur Media, Peter Kosann. The company focuses on radio and offers representation and marketing services for national radio.

Fútbol Americano

"Fútbol Americano" was the marketing name used for the first National Football League (NFL) regular season game held outside the United States. Played on October 2, 2005 at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, the Arizona Cardinals defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 31–14. The game drew an NFL regular season record of 103,467 paid fans.The name "Fútbol Americano" is Spanish for "American football," a term used to distinguish it from fútbol, which is Spanish for association football (soccer in American English). Fútbol is an approximation of the English word "football" in Spanish phonology; a more literal translation of "foot ball" is balompié, a calque term that is not used in Spanish-speaking countries other than for stylistic purposes in media.

List of National Football League attendance figures

The National Football League is the largest live spectator sporting league in the world (excluding auto racing) in terms of average attendance. As of 2015, the NFL averaged 68,400 live spectators per game, and 17,510,312 total for the season.

List of National Football League games played outside the United States

The National Football League (NFL) has played numerous games outside of the United States. All of the league's current and former teams have been based in the contiguous United States, with only the Pro Bowl played in a non-contiguous U.S. state (Hawaii).

NFL International Series

Starting in the 2007 season, the National Football League (NFL) has hosted regular season American football games outside the United States every year. Collectively officially known through 2016 as the NFL International Series, since 2017 the series has two sub-series: the NFL London Games in London, which has been in place since 2007, and the NFL Mexico Game in Mexico City, which began in 2016 with a predecessor game in 2005.

Initially, all games in the International Series were held in London. Wembley Stadium was the exclusive home stadium for International Series games from 2007 to 2015 and will continue to host at least two NFL games through at least 2020; beginning in 2016, the series began expanding to more stadiums, first to Twickenham Stadium in London (2016–2017) and to Estadio Azteca in Mexico City (2016–2021) and eventually to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London (2019–2027), with possible future plans to expand the series to Germany and/or Canada.

National Football League in Toronto

The National Football League (NFL) has been playing games in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, since 1959 when an interleague game between an NFL team and the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (CFL) took place at Exhibition Stadium. Subsequently, a number of neutral site preseason and regular season games between NFL teams have been staged in the city. Toronto is one of three cities outside the United States, along with London and Mexico City, which have hosted regular season NFL games.

There have long been efforts to establish an NFL franchise in Toronto due to its market size. Toronto is the third largest city in the United States or Canada, and the largest which is not home to an NFL team. The city hosts franchises in all of the other US based major professional North American sports in the United States and Canada. As of 2016 the league has no plans to establish a team in the city.

National Football League on Canadian television

As of the 2017 NFL season, CTV and TSN broadcast Sunday games. Monday Night Football airs exclusively on TSN. TSN and CTV Two own rights to Sunday Night Football and Thursday Night Football. RDS carries games in the French language from all timeslots. U.S. network television feeds may also be available, often from multiple markets, on cable and satellite (and via terrestrial broadcast in the border lands); all games are subject to simultaneous substitution.

Professional football in Canada

Professional football is one of the most popular sports in Canada. Unlike most countries, but paralleling its counterpart, the United States, the term "football" in Canada refers to the gridiron-based game developed in both countries over the course of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and not to association football (which is known in Canada as "soccer").

Only one professional football league has a permanent presence in Canada: the Canadian Football League (CFL), an organization founded in 1958 to accommodate the ongoing trend of professionalism in the Canadian football ranks since the 1940s. The CFL, like most amateur Canadian football leagues, plays on a larger field using a rulebook with several significant rule differences compared to the game as it is played in the United States. The league is composed of two divisions and nine teams in most of the largest Canadian markets, with at least one team in each province between British Columbia (BC Lions) and Quebec (Montreal Alouettes) inclusive. The only presence in Atlantic Canada is a semi-regular series of games in Moncton (Touchdown Atlantic) and a smattering of earlier preseason contests. The CFL operates a two-week preseason beginning in June, an 18-game season from July to October, and a six-team playoff tournament, culminating in the Grey Cup on the fourth weekend of November.

Several attempts to place franchises playing American football rules in Canada have occurred over the course of history:

The Los Angeles Wildcats of the American Football League (1926), as part of its traveling schedule, played one of its games in Toronto. The game introduced the first forward passes on Canadian soil (Canadian football would not allow the move until three years later).

The Quebec Rifles joined the United Football League (1961–1964) in the league's final year, then relocated to Toronto and joined the Continental Football League for two seasons (1965–67) and were known as the Toronto Rifles. The Continental Football League placed another franchise in Montreal, known as the Montreal Beavers, who played for two seasons (1966–67); a third, the Victoria Steelers (originally of the semi-pro Pacific Football League), played one season (1967) in the Continental league.

The Toronto Northmen were a World Football League franchise, but never played a game due to the Canadian Football Act, which was proposed for fears that the WFL might usurp the CFL. The mere threat of the Act's passage prompted the franchise to leave Canada before playing; it became the Memphis Southmen. (The WFL would play one game in London without objections.) Likewise, an attempt to put what would become the United States Football League's Tampa Bay Bandits in Hamilton was thwarted when a Senator threatened to reintroduce the Act.

The Montreal Machine were a World League of American Football franchise who played two seasons in 1991 and 1992.The Toronto Phantoms were a franchise of the Arena Football League who played two seasons in 2001 and 2002. Until 2017, they were the only professional indoor American football team to have attempted to take root in Canada; a second attempt, the Niagara Spartans (run by the established semi-pro Steel City Patriots team in the Hamilton area), played in the Can-Am Indoor Football League; the Spartans had their season cut short after four games, all on the road, when international border issues with the league's American teams proved to be unworkable.

The National Football League, the dominant professional football league in the United States, also has a large following in Canada due in part to significant media exposure. The NFL has occasionally played games in Toronto (as well as, more sporadically, other Canadian cities) over the course of its history but has never attempted to permanently place a team there. The Bills Toronto Series was the NFL's most direct presence in Canada; in that series, which ran from 2008 to 2013, the Buffalo Bills played one of their regular season home games in Toronto's Rogers Centre.

Rogers Centre

Rogers Centre, originally named SkyDome, is a multi-purpose stadium in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated just southwest of the CN Tower near the northern shore of Lake Ontario. Opened in 1989 on the former Railway Lands, it is home to the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball (MLB). Previously, the stadium was home to the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Buffalo Bills of the National Football League (NFL) played an annual game at the stadium as part of the Bills Toronto Series from 2008 to 2013. While it is primarily a sports venue, it also hosts other large events such as conventions, trade fairs, concerts, travelling carnivals, and monster truck shows.

The stadium was renamed "Rogers Centre" following the purchase of the stadium by Rogers Communications, which also owned the Toronto Blue Jays, in 2005. The venue was noted for being the first stadium to have a fully retractable motorized roof, as well as for the 348-room hotel attached to it with 70 rooms overlooking the field. It is also the last North American major-league stadium built to accommodate both football and baseball. The stadium served as the site of both the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2015 Pan American Games. During the ceremonies, the site was referred to as the "Pan Am Dome" (officially as the "Pan Am Ceremonies Venue") instead of its official name; Rogers Communications did not have sponsorship rights to the games.

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