Van Miller, the longtime radio voice of Buffalo Bills, died on Friday at the age of 87 following a bout with an illness.
Miller served as the radio play-by-play announcer of the Bills from 1960 to 1970 and then from 1978 to 2003.
A 2014 inductee in the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame, Miller’s enthusiastic and friendly calls are plastered all over many of the great moments in Bills history. He called four consecutive Super Bowls from the 1990 to ’93 and two AFL championship wins in 1964 and ’65.
His credits extended beyond the gridiron including stints with baseball, basketball, golf, soccer, and marathons (!). Literally, Van Miller was a man of all seasons.
On a sidenote, I first started watching the NFL in 1989. At that time, the 49ers ruled the NFL but a new power was rising in western New York. The Bills lost in the AFC title in ’88 and fell to the Browns during the ’89 playoffs. The latter performance saw the early forerunner of Buffalo’s vaunted no-huddle attack that would devastate defenses during the early 90s.
As Buffalo achieved more success, fans around the NFL became more familiar with the exploits of future Hall of Famers Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith, Andre Reed, and James Lofton.
Yet, fans also were introduced to Miller, the man behind of the mic during Buffalo’s famous run during the early 90s. Thanks to Buffalo’s on-the-field exploits, Miller’s famous calls in important regular season and postseason games came to life on a national stage through ESPN’s weekly show NFL PrimeTime or NFL Films’ productions.
Miller was never better behind the mic than during Buffalo’s dramatic 41-38 come-from-behind overtime win over the Houston Oilers during the 1992 postseason.
Bills quarterback Frank Reich helped Buffalo erase a 35-3 second half and connected with Reed on the go-ahead score. Miller’s radio call was simply perfect:
“BACK TO THROW, HE LOOKS, HE THROWS…TOUCHDOWN!!!!!!! ANDRE REED FOR THE TOUCHDOWN!!! THE BILLS HAVE SCORED!!! IT IS BEDLAM…IT IS PANDEMONIUM…IT IS FANDEMONIUM…IT IS FANTASTIC.”
Often times, local radio announcers for NFL teams do not get proper recognition unless their team becomes good and/or relevant simply because other audiences don’t have a chance to hear their work.
Luckily, the football world was blessed to know Van Miller.
Rest easy, sir.
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