End of an era at Ralph Wilson Stadium

One of the NFL's most famous tailgaters is being chased from his home.

Ken Johnson is a Buffalo Bills superfan whose famous red 1980 Ford Pinto station wagon party has been showcased on features produced by NFL Films.

He used to be portrayed as the ultimate fan. Now the league and the team consider his tailgating traditions inappropriate after 21 seasons, 14 of them in the same place: Ralph Wilson Stadium's Lot 1 near light pole No. 5.

Johnson and his crew have been featured on the Food Network for their eccentric festivities. They grill chicken right on the hood of the Pinto, bake pizzas in a file cabinet, stir fry in a hubcap, toss chicken wings in an army helmet, roast shish kabobs on screwdrivers and drink shots of cherry liqueur out of a bowling ball.

I've visited the tailgate and wrote about it in 2008. The event borders on performance art.

But the NFL is trying to clean up its image, and Bills fans are being scrutinized more than others. When the NFL partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to police stadium lots this year, the Bills and Raiders were the two teams chosen for the pilot program.

The new attitude has impacted Johnson's tailgate.

Associated Press reporter John Wawrow chronicled Johnson's tale and the reasoning behind his move.

Jeffrey Miller, the NFL's director of strategic security programs, told Wawrow there were concerns about dispensing alcohol and liability issues for the Bills and the league.

"The NFL absolutely embraces and supports tailgating. And we also support the responsible use of alcohol," Miller said. "We want people to come and have fun and enjoy themselves and have a great time with friends and family. But we don't want to make it an adults-only, R-rated experience. We want it to be something that's inclusive to everybody."

Johnson proudly wore a Trent Edwards jersey as he entertained for the final time in Lot 1 last Sunday. When I stopped by to pay my respects before the season-opening loss to the Miami Dolphins, he knew the end was near. He said he was surprised he wasn't asked to leave years ago. He considered himself lucky to have remained in the same place for as long as he did.

Johnson will attend his 263rd straight Bills game -- home and away -- Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Starting with the Bills' next home game Oct. 3, Johnson merely will pull his Pinto into a private lot across the street from Ralph Wilson Stadium.

"In my case, I do push the limits, so I can't scream too loudly," Johnson told Wawrow. "But you wonder how many people go to games because of characters like me. I think I add to the experience."