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Bills Broadcasting Legend John Murphy Retires from Play-by-Play



John Murphy addressing through Buffalo Bills dice.

For nearly two decades, John Murphy has been the voice of the Buffalo Bills on the radio. He started in 2003, following in the footsteps of the beloved Van Miller, who had retired. Murphy’s voice echoed across much of New York State, reaching listeners in Northern Pennsylvania and even as far as Cheyenne, Wyoming. He was the one bringing Bills football to life for fans tuning in.

In late 2022, John Murphy’s time on the air suddenly halted when he had a stroke. This unexpected event meant that someone else had to take over as the play-by-play announcer for the Buffalo Bills games.

Chris Brown, who reports on the Bills regularly, stepped into the role temporarily. It was a sudden change for the fans who were used to Murphy’s voice guiding them through the games.

During the 2023 season, John Murphy, affectionately known as “Murph” among his colleagues, attended several Bills home games at Highmark Stadium. However, instead of being in the announcer’s booth, he was there as a spectator.


Despite not being behind the mic, Murph still made a significant impact. He reconnected with various personalities in the broadcast area, adding his larger-than-life presence to the atmosphere. Even though he wasn’t actively calling the games, his spirit and energy were felt throughout the stadium.

Despite dedicating considerable effort to recovering from his stroke over the past 16 months, John Murphy has decided to step away from his play-by-play duties for the Buffalo Bills. Despite his determination and rehabilitation efforts, Murphy ultimately made the difficult choice to prioritize his health and well-being over returning to the announcer’s booth.

Longtime Buffalo Bills announcer John Murphy is stepping away from his play-by-play duties with the team, as reported by Brayton J. Wilson of WGR Sports Radio 550. Murphy has been the voice of the Buffalo Bills on the radio for parts of 19 seasons, taking over from broadcasting legend Van Miller after the 2003 season. His voice has been synonymous with Bills football, reaching listeners across New York State, into Northern Pennsylvania, and even as far as Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Buffalo Bills broadcaster John Murphy.
Buffalo Bills broadcaster John Murphy.

Murphy’s time on air was unexpectedly cut short late in the 2022 season when he suffered a stroke. This led to Bills beat reporter Chris Brown temporarily taking over as the play-by-play announcer.

Despite his health setback, Murphy made appearances in the announcer’s booth during the 2023 season, but solely as a spectator. Even though he wasn’t behind the mic, his presence was felt as he reconnected with various personalities in the broadcast area.


Despite working hard to recover from his stroke over the past 16 months, Murphy has decided to step aside from his play-by-play duties for the Bills. In a recent interview with WBEN’s Susan Rose, Murphy expressed his disappointment, stating that although he feels physically well and has been diligently working on his recovery, he still struggles with speaking, which is necessary for his role as a play-by-play announcer.

He emphasized that missing last year’s games and now facing the prospect of missing another season is too much to bear. Despite slow progress, Murphy remains hopeful that by September, he will see further improvement in his ability to speak.

John Murphy confessed that making the decision to step away was tough, but the full weight of it didn’t hit him until recently when he started reflecting on all the things he’ll miss. “I’ll miss a great deal,” he admitted. “

First and foremost, I’ll miss the people the wonderful individuals who work for the Bills, both past and present. I’ll miss the camaraderie and collaboration with them. I’ll also miss the fantastic folks at ‘GR radio and the teamwork we shared. More than anything else, it’s the people I’ll miss.”


Despite feeling a profound sense of loss for the people he regularly interacted with around One Bills Drive, John Murphy expressed that he has come to terms with his decision. “I made it probably in the last month or so,” he explained. “As I observed everything going on around me and realized a new season was approaching rapidly, it became clear that it wouldn’t benefit anyone for me to return to my duties only halfway.

I can’t do it that way.” Accepting the reality of his situation, Murphy acknowledged that attempting to resume his role without being able to fully commit wouldn’t be fair to himself or to those relying on him.

John Murphy didn’t make the decision to step away from his play-by-play duties alone. He consulted with his wife, Mary, about the matter, and she supported his choice. “She says, ‘If you don’t feel comfortable and if you think you won’t be able to do it properly, then don’t do it,’” Murphy shared. “I think her perspective really influenced my decision and just felt like it’s too much.

I haven’t made significant progress to come back the way I envision, the way I want to.” With Mary’s understanding and encouragement, Murphy recognized that returning to his role. It would only lead to dissatisfaction, and he accepted that stepping back was the best course of action for now.


In 2019, John Murphy received a prestigious honor when he was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Now, his wife, Mary, is set to join him in this esteemed hall of fame. Mary’s induction is scheduled for this coming September. Her career at WKBW-TV spanned from 1985 to 2005, during. Which she served as a reporter, anchor, and consumer advocate for the station’s Action 7 franchise.

Together, John and Mary Murphy have left a significant mark on the broadcasting industry in Buffalo. Their induction into the hall of fame reflects their outstanding contributions to the field.

As John Murphy focuses on his recovery journey following his stroke, he remains dedicated to his rehabilitation efforts. He shared that he participates in speech therapy sessions twice a week to improve his communication skills. Additionally, Murphy utilizes a program called Brain HQ to address cognitive deficiencies stemming from the stroke.

Despite the challenges he faces, Murphy offers words of encouragement to others who may be undergoing a similar recovery process. “For anyone that has recently gone through a stroke and is in their recovery process, hang in there and keep working away,” he advises. Murphy’s commitment to his rehabilitation serves as a testament to his resilience and determination in overcoming adversity.


John Murphy shared some valuable advice based on his own experience: “Figure out what you want to do. It might not be exactly what you want to do, but do something else.” Despite facing challenges due to his stroke, Murphy emphasized the importance of staying engaged and finding purpose in other activities.

He expressed gratitude for his supportive family and friends who motivate him to keep working towards his goals. “I’m lucky that I have such a great family and so many good friends that keep me motivated to work, and I work. And just because my family and friends tell me to, I work at it,” he explained.

While Murphy is stepping away from his role as the play-by-play voice of the Buffalo Bills. He clarified that this isn’t necessarily retirement from Bills broadcasts altogether. This signals that while one chapter may be closing. There are still opportunities for Murphy to remain involved in some capacity within the Bills broadcasting community.

“I am gonna give myself until maybe the first of next year before I’m fully back. But I think I’m gonna step away and really concentrate on my recovery, and then get to work on whatever it may be,” John Murphy shared. Expressing his commitment to his rehabilitation journey. He plans to prioritize his recovery before fully diving back into his professional endeavors.


Looking ahead, Murphy has set a tentative goal for his return to broadcasting duties. “I think by September, I hope to provide and/or comment in the booth, the radio booth for home games, and maybe road games, too. But only if my voice is better. But we’ll see. We’ll see how that works out,” he explained. Murphy’s cautious optimism underscores his determination to resume his role once he feels confident in his ability to contribute effectively.

Reflecting on his tenure in the broadcast booth calling Bills games, Murphy cherishes the moments when he’s associated with his predecessor. He acknowledges the significance of following in the footsteps of the play-by-play voice. Who had been a fixture in Buffalo since the team’s inception in 1960. This connection to his predecessor adds depth to Murphy’s appreciation for his role in Bills broadcasting history.

“I think to be closely identified with Van, to work with Van for 16 years before I took over the play-by-play; I understand what the job is. I understand how to do the job right, I think,” John Murphy reflected. He acknowledged the significant influence of his predecessor, Van Miller. With whom he had worked closely for 16 years before assuming the play-by-play role. Murphy recognized the importance of learning from Miller’s expertise and establishing his own style over time.

“And not that I was doing it like Van right away, but after a while, you have your own pace and your own systems. I think I carried on for Van pretty well,” he added, highlighting his evolution in the role. While maintaining the integrity and standards set by Miller.

Buffalo Bills' Play ground.
Buffalo Bills’ Play ground.

When asked about his most memorable game called during his 19-plus seasons as the play-by-play voice of the Bills. Murphy pointed to a recent game that marked the end of Buffalo’s season. This particular game stands out as it encapsulated the highs and lows of the team’s journey. Which leaving a lasting impression on Murphy as a broadcaster.

John Murphy reminisced about a particularly memorable playoff game from a couple of years ago, which took place in Kansas City. “It was a playoff game a couple of years ago in Kansas City. Where they had the lead with 13 seconds left and lost.

That was a tough game to take,” Murphy admitted. Recalling the intensity of the match, he described the back-and-forth nature of the game, with both teams exchanging game-winning touchdowns. Despite the thrilling moments, the outcome wasn’t realized until later when Murphy reviewed the tape. “It didn’t hit me until a couple of days later that they lost that game,” he reflected. The game’s significance lingered, leaving a lasting impact on Murphy as one of the most shocking and memorable games he had called.

While Murphy remains hopeful about the Buffalo Bills’ future, he expressed confidence in the team’s potential to reach another Super Bowl. “While I’m hopeful I will get a chance to be at another Super Bowl one day involving the Bills. I certainly believe the team will get there soon,” he remarked.

Murphy emphasized his faith in quarterback Josh Allen’s abilities and the team’s potential for success. “I think in the next couple of years they’ll go. Maybe not this year, but they’ll be there. With Josh, they can do anything,” he noted. Murphy’s optimism reflects his belief in the Bills’ ability to achieve greatness with Allen at the helm. Despite any potential setbacks along the way.


For now, Chris Brown will continue as the interim play-by-play announcer for the Buffalo Bills leading up to the 2024 season. There are currently no immediate plans to select a permanent successor to John Murphy in the broadcast booth. As the official play-by-play voice for football in Western New York.

However, whoever eventually takes on that role will receive valuable advice from Murphy: “Just work at it.” He emphasized the importance of dedication and preparation, recalling his own rigorous routine before each game. “Even two years ago, the last season I did it, I was working seven or eight or nine hours a week getting ready for the game.”

Murphy shared. His preparation involved studying extensive video footage of both the Bills and their opponents, analyzing multiple games to ensure thorough understanding. “Just work at it,” Murphy reiterated, highlighting the necessity of continuous effort and diligence. He emphasized the importance of not resting on one’s laurels simply because they hold the esteemed position of being the voice of the Bills, but rather, to consistently strive for excellence through hard work and dedication.

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