Bills alumni show support for Miller’s golf tourney

Former Buffalo Bills’ General Manager Bill Polian was in town Friday afternoon at Shorewood Country Club to serve as the emcee for the Van Miller Scholarship Golf Tournament, something he was more than happy to do.

“Very easy,” Polian said when asked if it was a hard decision to be the emcee for the tournament. “I have great regard for Van and Dan (Reininga, CEO and President of Lakeshore BanCorp. Inc.) both, and it’s always great to come back to Western New York.”

More than 120 golfers joined Polian and Miller, a Dunkirk native, and now retired radio broadcaster of the Bills.

“He’s a civic treasure,” Polian said of Miller. “He’s the voice of Western New York and for those (Bills fans) around the country. He did the (Buffalo) Braves and the Bills for so many years, so it’s not surprising at all (that the tournament received the support it did).

“Buffalo’s not called the City of Good Neighbors for nothing,” Polian continued. “People pull together, they support charities, they support, in particular, local charities, greatly and it’s not surprising at all.”

Polian, who now works for ESPN as a studio analyst, noted he was not nervous about speaking Friday night at the dinner. But he did mention that it was nice to see some of the former Bills players that were on hand, Booker Edgerson, Mark Kelso, Paul Maguire, Ed Rutkowski and Al Bemiller were all present Friday during the tournament, and all had plenty of stories to share about their days with the Bills and Miller.

“It’s always nice to catch up and see how they’re doing,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Miller was just as pleased as Polian with the turnout for the tournament, noting that it’s all done for the students at Dunkirk Senior High School, and this year in particular for scholarship winners Connor Aitcheson and Miranda Owen.

“We enjoy it,” Miller said. “It’s for the high school kids at DHS and it’s worked out pretty good.”

As for the emcee, Miller was quite pleased to see him as well.

“Yes, it has been some time,” Miller said of the last time he saw Polian. “I think he deserves to be the commissioner of the National Football League. He’s the man who made the Buffalo Bills, actually, with all the draft choices he made and then he went on to Indianapolis and brought in Peyton Manning there. He’s just a terrific guy.”

Having retired from the booth after the completion of the 2003 season, Miller said he has no desire to kick current play-by-play man John Murphy – who was Miller’s color commentator for nearly 20 seasons prior to his retirement – out of the booth any time soon.

“I did it for so many years going back to when it started when Ralph Wilson bought the team in 1960,” Miller said. “That was 10 years before the Sabres and 10 years before the NBA team.”

However, Miller does still show up to Ralph Wilson Stadium on game days, ready to watch the Bills play.

“I have macular degeneration, so I can’t go down on the field or anything, but I have field glasses so I can watch the game,” Miller said. “So it works out pretty well.”

With the 2014 NFL season just a few short months away, Miller still has his insights on how he thinks the Bills will do.

“Well it’s hard to figure,” Miller said of what he thinks of the Bills’ chances this season. “A lot of it will depend on injuries and how healthy they’re going to be. And their opponents. Not only in the division, but league-wide.

“I don’t think it matters who you play so much, or when you play them,” Miller continued. “It’s how you play them that’s important.”

But on Friday afternoon, and into the evening at Shorewood Country Club, nobody cared much at all about how they played on the links. Rather they were there to share some laughs and reminisce with some former Bills, Polian and Miller, who will long be the voice of many generations of Bills fans.