Jack Kemp: In Memoriam

Legendary Bills quarterback, nine-term congressman, and former Vice-Presidential candidate Jack Kemp passed away yesterday from cancer.  Kemp led the Bills during their AFL championship years of 1964 and 1965.  In 1966, the first year the Super Bowl was played, the Bills lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFL Championship game.  Kemp played one season with OJ Simpson before retiring in 1970 to run for Congress, representing a slice of Buffalo suburbs that includes Ralph Wilson Stadium (formerly Rich Stadium) for nine terms.  In 1988 he left the House in order to run for president.  Though his bid failed, new president George H.W. Bush named him Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.  In 1996, though he chose not to run for president, eventual Republican nominee Bob Dole tapped him as his running mate.

While Kemp was an unabashed conservative, he held many progressive views.  In particular he was famous for his attempts to make the Republican party more inclusive, especially on the racial front.  One reason he did not run for president in 1996 was because he felt his views were out of line with the Republican leadership that had swept to power in 1994.  Notably, for instance, he favored federal incentives to combat urban poverty.

Though certainly not as angelic as that makes him sound (he supported Scooter Libby, for instance), he fought hard for racial equality and an end to poverty, and he was a damn good football player.

Obit Lou Saban FootballAssociated Press Photo (l-r): Coach Lou Saban, Pete Gogolak (3), Kemp (15), and Wray Carlton (30) after winning the 1964 AFL Championship.  Note that Saban passed away just a bit over a month ago, on March 29th.

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