Niagara Gazette

Sports

July 1, 2011

NT’s Kuhn among models for new Bills duds

TONAWANDA — Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fred Jackson weren’t available, so the Buffalo Bills tabbed the next best thing for their new uniform unveiling last week.

North Tonawanda’s Anthony Kuhn was among six military personnel invited to strap on the pads and don the team’s new threads at last week’s uniform launch party at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

“I thought it was great that they incorporated the military into it. I knew they had to come up with something because of the lockout, but it would have been easy for them to call a modeling agency or something,” said Kuhn, whose father John Kuhn still resides in North Tonawanda with his wife, Carla. “I thought it was great that they called the military and had some soldiers come in there.”

Anthony Kuhn, who graduated from North Tonawanda High School in 1996, was teaching a combat class when he got the call from the Bills.

“At first I thought it was for the color guard because we do a lot of the color guard,” he said. “When they called me originally I said, ‘Yeah, no problem. You guys need a color guard? We can help you out.’ And they said, ‘no, we just want you for the jersey unveiling.’

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Kuhn was invited to come down at noon last Friday and he spent the day with five other local military personnel as well as Bills greats such as Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Steve Tasker, Charlie Ferguson and Booker Edgerson.

“He told us a bunch of stories about the Bills in the old days, which obviously I remember,” Kuhn said of lunch with Tasker. “We talked about that all day.”

Kuhn’s three sons — Anthony Jr., 9; Mark, 7; Jack, 9 months — as well his wife Noelle, were all invited back stage to meet the Bills greats. He said the highlight of the evening’s festivities was when he and the other military members went around field to greet the fans sitting in the first row of the stadium’s lower bowl.

“It was pretty cool that my kids got to see me wearing the uniforms and being out there on the field.,” Kuhn said. “I know they were pumped up and they were proud.”

The 32-year-old was promoted to First Sergeant in 2009 in the Army Reserve. He joined the Army within two months of graduating in 1996, and as a former wrestling standout at NT, made the all-Army wrestling team in 1999.

Following a year of training, injuries prevented him from continuing with the sport, and thus retired from active duty. In 2000 he joined the reserve and was soon after mobilized to train the Iraqi Army. For his services he garnered two Bronze Stars in 13 months before returning home.

Kuhn said for the Bills to honor those who have served with the opportunity to introduce the new uniforms was really special for him and his family.

“It was really classy with the way that they treated us, with a lot of respect. It was great,” he said. “They couldn’t have been nicer, they couldn’t have been more appreciative of the military when they did it. It was something that I’ll never forget and something that my kids will never forget.”

Contact sports editor Brandon Koch at 693-1000, ext. 117.

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