AFL celebration begins at the draft

If you see them holding up this Boston Patriots AFL jersey at the draft Saturday, you're not having a flashback; it's a nod to the AFL's 50th anniversary season.

If you see them holding up this Boston Patriots AFL jersey at the draft Saturday, you're not having a flashback; it's a nod to the AFL's 50th anniversary season.

While the NFL draft usually is all about building for the future, this year’s draft will kick off a special nod to the past. The NFL is honoring the 50th anniversary of the American Football League this season, and all of the eight original AFL teams — Bills, Patriots, Broncos, Dallas Texans (now the Kansas City Chiefs), Houston Oilers (Tennessee Titans), Raiders, Chargers and New York Titans (N.Y. Jets) — will be have their historic AFL jerseys and “Legacy” caps on display at Radio City Music Hall.

With four of the eight original AFL teams scheduled to pick in the top 12 (Kansas City, third; Oakland, seventh; Buffalo, 11th; Denver, 12th), there is a very good chance that some or all of those teams will draft one of the nine prospects who have been invited to the draft. So when those players are on stage being introduced to the Radio City crowd, we will get to see them posing with their team’s old threads.

The AFL 50th celebration will continue all season long. The eight original AFL franchises each will play three Legacy Games in historic uniforms from the 1960s.

The first of these games will be the annual Hall of Fame Game on Sunday, Aug. 9 as the Buffalo Bills take on the Tennessee Titans (in Houston Oilers uniforms). Kickoff weekend will feature an AFL Monday Night Football doubleheader: New England Patriots (playing as the Boston Patriots) hosting Buffalo Bills, followed by the San Diego Chargers visiting the Oakland Raiders.

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