By Ken Crippen
- Professional Football Researchers Association
Published: March 19th, 2009
Bruce Smith Selected first overall in the 1985 NFL draft, Smith went on to post 200 career sacks in 19 seasons (15 with the Buffalo Bills). When he retired, Smith was the all-time NFL leader in sacks and posted double-digit sacks in twelve seasons as a Buffalo Bill. He was selected to eleven Pro Bowls and won NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors twice. Smith was inducted into the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame in 2008.
Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. One of the original owners in the American Football League (AFL), Wilson helped guide his team to two AFL Championships and four Super Bowl appearances. He is only the second administrator to be inducted into the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame (Patrick J. McGroder in 1985). Wilson was inducted into the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame in 1989.
Thurman Thomas Thomas was selected in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft and played twelve seasons for the team. Over that span, he rushed for over 1,000 yards in eight consecutive seasons, was elected to five Pro Bowls and won NFL MVP honors in 1991. Thomas was inducted into the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame in 2005.
Joe DeLamielleure Selected 26th overall in the 1973 NFL Draft, DeLamielleure played eight seasons for the Buffalo Bills. Over his career, he was selected to five consecutive Pro Bowls (1975-1979) and was part of the famed Electric Company, which blocked for O.J. Simpsons 2,003-yard season in 1973. DeLamielleure was inducted into the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame in 1997.
James Lofton Lofton played for five NFL franchises throughout his career (Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Raiders, Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles). Over his 16 seasons in the NFL, Lofton caught 734 passes for 14,004; a yardage mark that led the league at the time of his retirement. In 1991, Lofton became the oldest player (35 years old) to record 1,000 receiving yards in a season.
Jim Kelly The only quarterback in history to take his team to four straight Super Bowl appearances, Kelly stood as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history when he left the game. His 35,467 career passing yards was tenth all-time; his 2,874 completions was eighth all-time and his 237 touchdowns placed him 13th among the NFL leaders at the time of his retirement. His eleven seasons in Buffalo saw Kelly pass for more than 3,000 yards eight times. Kelly was inducted into the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame in 2001.
Marv Levy In his eleven seasons with Buffalo, Levy led the team to six AFC East Division titles and four consecutive Super Bowl appearances. When he retired, he was the winningest coach in Bills history; racking up a 112-70 regular season record and going 11-8 in the playoffs. Levy was named AFC Coach of the Year in 1988, 1993 and 1995 and was named NFL Coach of the Year in 1988. He was inducted into the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame in 1996.
Billy Shaw At the time of his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Shaw was the only player to spend his entire career in the American Football League (AFL). Shaw helped lead the Bills to two AFL Championships in his nine years with the team. Over that span, Shaw earned first-team All-AFL honors five times, second-team All-AFL honors three times and was selected to eight AFL All-Star games. Shaw was also named to the All-Time AFL team. He was inducted into the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame in 1988.
O.J. Simpson The 1968 Heisman Trophy winner was the first overall selection in the 1969 NFL Draft. Over the next eleven seasons, Simpson racked up an impressive 11,236 yards rushing, 2,142 yards receiving and 76 touchdowns. He was the first running back to break the 2,000-yard barrier when he gained 2,003 yards in 1973. He led the league in rushing three times, was NFL Player of the Year three times and was selected to six Pro Bowls. Simpson was inducted to the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame in 1980.