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“Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” host Guy Fieri filmed with Bills legend Bruce Smith at The Dirty Buffalo on Wednesday. (Getty Images; Buffalo News file photo)

Buffalo Bills Hall-of-Famer Bruce Smith loves The Dirty Buffalo’s wings so much he’s willing to make sacrifices.

Smith, who had planned to fly from Virginia Beach, Va., to the NFL Draft festivities in Philadelphia, rearranged his itinerary so he could appear on a taping of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” with host Guy Fieri at the Buffalo-themed Norfolk sports-bar restaurant Wednesday morning.

The Food Network show’s producers spent 10 hours filming on Monday before Fieri and Smith starred in a tighter shoot today.

For those unfamiliar with “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” the hourlong show highlights restaurants around the country for outstanding and quirky foods. There has been no date set for when the episode will air.

The Dirty Buffalo owners Russell and Stephanie Gilbert, both University at Buffalo alums, opened the restaurant in 2012 to cater to the large number of Buffalo transplants and Buffalo sports fans in the area. Two top-selling food items – both of which will be featured on the show – are the Dirty Plate, a play off of Nick Tahou’s Garbage Plate in Rochester, and Buffalo wings.

The Dirty Chick – the most popular version of the Dirty Plate – starts with a bed of homefries, then is topped with homemade macaroni and cheese, and finished with two chicken fingers covered in a sauce of the diner’s choice. The Gilberts offer 25 sauces regularly, with a new special sauce released each Wednesday.

For the show, Russell featured a Jamaican-inspired sauce called Buffalo Soldier, which blends seedless habanero peppers into a Buffalo-style hot sauce.

“I loved Duff’s growing up in Western New York – I set them as a benchmark for when I opened my restaurant,” said Russell Gilbert, by phone. “After I opened [Dirty Buffalo], I came back to [WNY] for a wedding and had Duff’s, and now the best wings I’ve had just happen to come from the restaurant I own.”

The 18-piece wings from Dirty Buffalo. (via Dirty Buffalo)

Dale Gump, who attended UB with Gilbert’s wife and bonded with Russell over their shared affection for the Bills, was invited to participate as an extra in the shoot.

“Guy was quite taken with Bruce,” notes Gump, a U.S. Navy veteran who’s now an officer for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “It was exciting to watch them interact on the set. Guy joked with him, ‘It seems like you’ve been on TV a few times.'”

The relationship between Smith and Russell Gilbert blossomed not long after the restaurant’s opening – forming the friendship was a “main goal,” Russell says. Within six months, Smith tried The Dirty Buffalo wings and got to know Gilbert.

Upon meeting the legendary Bill for the first time, “I was like a kid in a candy store,” recalls Russell. “I was so nervous – and I don’t usually get nervous. But he started telling me stories, like how he and Darryl Talley could punish 100 wings in their heyday.”

“Having [Smith] in was the most surreal thing,” Russell continued. “Dale and I argue back and forth about who’s the bigger Bills fan – I still think it’s me. I was around 9 years old during the Super Bowl era.”

Smith often drives the 20 minutes from Virginia Beach to get The Dirty Buffalo’s wings; Russell Gilbert is proud that he’s made it into the sack-master’s iPhone favorites.

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WINSTON-SALEM, NC – The 2017 NFL Draft may be over, but that doesn’t mean teams are done adding important contributors for the upcoming season. Scores of NCAA athletes will start the next chapters of their football careers by signing as undrafted free agents this week.

Joining that group of athletes will be Winston-Salem State’s All-American offensive lineman, Jac’Que Polite. Polite has agreed to terms with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent. He’ll sign a rookie free agent deal with the Buffalo Bills on Monday.

Jac’Que Polite is a first team selection, AFCA All-American. Polite was a first team All-CIAA selection in 2015 & 2016, and helped guide to WSSU offense to fourth in the CIAA with 393.8 yards per game and fourth in scoring at 31.8 points per game. A two-time first team All-CIAA selection, Polite helped guide the Rams to back to back CIAA Titles and advanced to the first round of the NCAA DII Playoffs.

“First thing first I want to thank God for this tremendous opportunity”, said Polite. “God is real! During the draft I kept praying and talking to God, asking him for a chance to play ball at the next level. A couple of minutes later he answered with a call from the Buffalo Bills. Secondly, I want to thank my parents for raising me into the man that I am today, and for supporting and believing in me throughout this entire journey. I also want to thank everyone else (family & friends) for their support. This is an opportunity of a life time. Something I’ve always dreamed of as a little boy. Hard work and dedication does pay off.  All I have is one shot and one chance, I’m coming to kick the door down. I’m happy for this opportunity but I’m not satisfied my mission isn’t complete just yet!”, added Polite.

Please join us in wishing Jac’Que Polite the best of luck, chasing his dream!

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Zay Jones, a record-setting wide receiver from East Carolina, has been selected by the Buffalo Bills 37th overall in the second round of the NFL draft.

Jones is the third-highest selection in ECU history, falling behind his father Robert Jones and former running back Chris Johnson, both of whom were selected 24th overall. The Austin, Texas native is the sixth second-round selection in school history.

New Bills wide receivers coach Phil McGeoghan coached Jones at East Carolina last season. Buffalo traded up with Los Angeles at No. 37 to grab Jones, giving up 44 and 91, while acquiring the 149th overall pick.

Jones accumulated 399 catches – an NCAA FBS record – over his four-year East Carolina career. As a senior, he caught 158 passes, also an NCAA-best mark. He’s the fourth receiver off the board in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Dane Brugler of CBS Sports broke down Jones’ strengths.

Sound route runner — doesn’t have elite start/stop quickness, but works hard to sell and square off patterns. Evades at the line of scrimmage and accurately reads coverages to find open space. Always working to get open with a high football IQ. Reliable pass-catcher, using his hands to attack the football. Steadfast blocker and not shy about throwing his body around. Senior captain and well-respected within the program.

The Bills’ obvious No. 1 is Sammy Watkins, but Buffalo doesn’t have a true No. 2 receiver. The Bills signed Corey Brown from the Panthers earlier this offseason.

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The Bills found an experienced starting cornerback with their first round pick.

With the 27th pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills have selected Tre’Davious White. The Bills were left with a wide array of options on the board at tenth overall, but an offer from the Chiefs to swap for two first rounders and a third was too good for them to pass up.

White was a four year starter for the Tigers, accumulating 49 games of experience. His coverage technique is very far developed, with skills at both man and zone coverage, but he plays best in zone coverage. White has great timing to break on routes, and defended 14 passes, intercepting two and returning one for a touchdown during his senior season.

White would be able to start immediately for the Bills across from Ronald Darby. He would allow players like Micah Hyde and Kevon Seymour to flex into spots that suit their strengths the most.

Barring another trade, the Bills’ next pick will be in the second round, number 44 overall

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The Buffalo Bills have parted ways with general manager Doug Whaley after four seasons, the team announced Sunday. The news comes hours after the conclusion of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Whaley joined the team as assistant general manager in 2010 and was later hired as general manager in 2013 after Buddy Nix stepped down following that year’s draft. In Whaley’s four seasons as general manager, the team finished 30-34 and had just one winning season (2014).

The Bills also terminated the professional and amateur scouting departments, Pegula said at a press conference Sunday.

Whaley seemed to at least be on the hot seat, if not nearing the end of his tenure when he admitted he wasn’t included in the conversations surrounding the firing of head coach Rex Ryan.

The timing of Whaley’s firing was curious, of course, considering it came less than 24 hours after the conclusion of the 2017 NFL Draft. Bills owner Terry Pegula said keeping Whaley (and the scouting department) around through the draft completed the group’s work.

“The decision was made now because this is the end of the scouting year,” Pegula said. “We ran a process and as a result of that process after the draft we made the decision.”

“He put the whole thing together,” Pegula said of Whaley’s involvement with the 2017 draft.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport says the scouting community expected the move, adding new Bills head coach Sean McDermott had a heavy hand in Buffalo’s draft-night trade. Rapoport added some early possible candidates for the Bills‘ opening include Panthers personnel men Brandon Beane and Don Gregory.

McDermott will be consulted by ownership during the GM search, Pegula said.

“Sure, I will ask Sean questions,” Pegula said. “We will use every resource available.”

Whaley’s draft tenure was marred by injuries to his lone two first round picks — receiver Sammy Watkins and defensive end Shaq Lawson — and later-round selections that failed to stick, as well as the albatross he immediately inherited and for which he was forced to find an alternative in E.J. Manuel. The Watkins selection became uglier after repeated struggles with foot issues, as well as the fact Whaley dealt away a 2015 first-round pick (and fourth-round selection) to move up to grab the wideout.

Whaley also had some painfully memorable meetings with the media (as few and far between as they came), going immediately on the defensive in one of his last press conferences as GM, which included a reporter saying I’m actually trying to figure out what you (Whaley) do for a living while questioning Whaley’s nonexistent role in Ryan’s firing.

While it’s somewhat peculiar to see a personnel decision-maker fired just hours after the three most important roster construction days of the calendar, this isn’t the first time a GM has left his post in Buffalo after completing a draft. Nix, whom Whaley replaced, stepped down from the position just weeks after the 2013 draft, in which Buffalo selected Manuel. The passer was at the center of one of the final decisions made with Whaley’s input, resulting in the benching of Tyrod Taylor in what was classified as an injury-related “business decision” — Taylor’s contract would have become fully guaranteed at $30.75 million had he suffered an injury in the final week of the 2016 season — and to see what the Bills had in Manuel.

The result: Taylor restructured his deal in Buffalo, Manuel signed with the Raiders as a backup and Whaley is out of work.

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The addition of a 5th round pick from the Patriots finalizes Buffalo’s picks.

The Buffalo Bills have added a new draft pick with the loss of Mike Gillislee. Because he was a restricted free agent, Buffalo receives a 2017 5th round selection from the New England Patriots. It is the 163rd overall selection. With this, Buffalo’s draft order is officially set.

The team’s picks are:

  • Round 1 – 10 overall
  • Round 2 – 44 overall
  • Round 3 – 75 overall
  • Round 5 – 156 overall
  • Round 5 – 163 overall (from New England)
  • Round 5 – 171 overall (from Dallas)
  • Round 6 – 195 overall

Buffalo will be without 4th and 7th round selections thanks to a pair of trades.

The fourth rounder was sent to the Chicago Bears to move up in last year’s draft to select linebacker Reggie Ragland. The seventh round pick was sent to the Dallas Cowboys, along with Matt Cassel, for a fifth round selection two years ago. Chicago will receive the 117th overall selection and the Cowboys the 228th pick.

The Bills could still move down in the first round and acquire more picks in this year’s selection event, something where they’ve been completing their due diligence.

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Uber becomes the official ridesharing partner of the Bills, Sabres and Bandits with designated pickup and drop-off zones.

Beginning this summer, Western New Yorkers will have reliable, affordable and safe transportation options for attending sporting events and concerts. Pegula Sports and Entertainment today welcomes Uber as the official ridesharing partner of the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bandits.

“As soon as ridesharing was legalized in New York State, we enthusiastically initiated discussions to become partners,” said Erica Muhleman, PSE’s executive vice president of business development. “The Bills, Sabres and Bandits share in Uber’s mission of providing reliable, affordable transportation to all community members, while increasing the safety of our roadways through proactively reducing impaired driving. Through our partnership, Uber will have a very positive effect on the guest experience at our venues.”

Fans visiting New Era Field, KeyBank Center and HarborCenter will have the opportunity to enjoy the convenience of Uber Pickup and Drop-off Zones to enhance the simplicity of their travel to and from events. Uber is working with the Bills and Sabres to become fully integrated in the My One Buffalo app, which already provides fans with ticket management service and many other convenient features. The Uber-PSE partnership will also include exposure across PSE’s digital entities and within New Era Field and KeyBank Center.

“We are honored to be the official ridesharing partner of the Buffalo Bills, Sabres and Bandits,” said Josh Mohrer, General Manager, Uber NY. “Together, we will make rides to and from Buffalo sporting events and concerts even more efficient and seamless, build upon Upstate’s economic revitalization, and reduce drunk driving.”

Uber will kickoff the partnership as the official sponsor of the 2017 Buffalo Bills Draft week with an assortment of content across Buffalo Bills Media platforms. As Bills fans are gearing up for the draft, Uber will be running a special on-demand giveaway for Western New York riders. On Wednesday, Uber will give riders the chance to win four tickets to Thursday night’s official Buffalo Bills draft party, along with draft-themed prize packages. In true Uber fashion, the tickets will be personally delivered by Bills hall of fame running back Thurman Thomas in an Uber vehicle.

About Uber

Uber’s mission is to bring reliable transportation to everywhere, for everyone. We started in 2010 to solve a simple problem: how do you get a ride at the touch of a button? Six years and more than two billion trips later, we’ve started tackling an even greater challenge: reducing congestion and pollution in our cities by getting more people into fewer cars.

About Pegula Sports and Entertainment

Pegula Sports and Entertainment (PSE) is a management company that streamlines key business areas across all Pegula family-owned sports and entertainment properties including the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo Bandits, Rochester Americans, HarborCenter, and Black River Entertainment, along with several food and beverage entities. PSE aims to be a leader in the sports and entertainment industry by bringing together the individual resources, capabilities and talents of each of its properties to create a cohesive and sustainable brand that together represents the Pegula family’s interest. PSE’s mission is exemplified by its One Buffalo initiative, which unites Western New York and serves as a representation of teamwork through a deeper connection between Buffalo sports teams, fans and the community.

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Taking a look at the three most important games the Buffalo Bills will play in during the 2017 NFL season.

Dec 24, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Brandon Tate (15) runs the ball after a punt against the Miami Dolphins at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL schedule being released on Thursday, teams and fans now know which direction these teams will be taking as they move forward. For some teams, the schedule release shows in order which teams they will lose to in the weeks ahead. For others, it shows how tough the matchups will be for their team on the quest to make the playoffs in 2017.

For the Buffalo Bills, 2017 is likely to be a very telling season for how the next few years of football in Buffalo will go. On one hand, you have a Bills team with potential on all sides of the football. With that said, they also have a lot of issues to work out going forward that could cost this team in the long run.

Based on their schedule as a whole and the Bills could be in for another rough season this year. However, depending on the results, Buffalo could at least give many of their fans hope for the 2018 season with a solid performance in 2017.

3. October 1st at Atlanta

Heading to the house of the defending NFC Champions, Buffalo will have an uphill battle when they take on the Atlanta Falcons during week 4 of the season. The biggest issue here is that the Bills will be coming off a home game the previous week against the extremely talented Denver Broncos and could be banged up on offense due to this fact.

Mainly, this game ranks up on this list due to the fact that this game should give Bills fans an early glimpse to how far or close they are to making the playoffs. If the Bills can keep it close against the explosive Falcons, fans should be excited as it will prove that Buffalo is almost ready to take the next giant leap forward.

2. December 3rd vs. New England

The first of three straight home games between week 13 and week 15, the Buffalo Bills open up their homestand against the rival New England Patriots. With the team being the defending Super Bowl champions, this home game will be the ultimate test for the Bills. While I expect them to struggle in their first game at New England, this game will be one to watch for fans of Buffalo.

Much like the Atlanta game, Buffalo will be looking to keep this game close and prove that they are properly on the verge of taking the next leap forward. That said, if Buffalo struggles in this game, it will again show the gargantuan divide between the Bills and the Patriots.

1. November 2nd at New York Jets

In what is becoming an annual affair between the two AFC East rivals, the Jets and Bills will once again square off at least once this season on Thursday night. Again, we can expect the ever-popular color rush uniforms to make an appearance with the Bills and Jets likely rocking the extremely bright red and green colors.

However, given this game’s date in the middle of the season, it could serve as an opportunity for Buffalo to begin a momentum push for the second half of the season. Given that the Jets look ready to tank in 2017, this game is a must-win for the Bills if they want to have any hope of a playoff push.

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Bills fans are calling for it, but probably shouldn’t be.

Buffalo Bills fans know how electric it can be at Ralph Wilson Stadium New Era Field for a home primetime game. With the new NFL schedule released, Buffalo was once again shut out. While the atmosphere is fun there are definitely reasons why the Bills aren’t chosen.

The team stinks

Former Bills guard Ross Tucker reminded everyone on Twitter yesterday that the NFL schedule is designed to increase ratings, not reward fun fanbases. The Bills haven’t been relevant nationally in a long time, so primetime games aren’t focused on here, especially ones at home.

The market is too small

If you’re looking for ratings, Buffalo might get a high percentage, but that’s still a lower number of eyeballs than in Dallas or New York or Boston. Green Bay doesn’t count because they’ve been good and have developed a national audience.

No Rex Ryan

Sorry, Sean McDermott, but your personality isn’t begging for the bright lights. You weren’t hired to do that. Rex Ryan drew national attention and Buffalo had a little bit higher profile when he was here. Now it keeps coming back to the first point – winning.

Fans go too far

If you’ve been to a night game at The Ralph, you’ll know fans can start tailgating in private lots at the same time they normally do and work up a pretty good lather by the time the late kickoff comes around. In 2012, a man was ejected during a primetime game and found dead the next day in a creek near the stadium. That incident was rumored to be a tipping point for the Bills, who may have asked the NFL to exclude them from home primetime games because of the unsafe behavior. That was debunked by the head of the team’s Fan Advisory Board in 2015.

New Era Field can’t broadcast those games

This was true for a while. When networks began switching to high definition, the Ralph didn’t have the necessary infrastructure for several years. Renovations over the past several years took care of this problem, and it’s not an issue anymore.

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