Bills Hall Candidates Plentiful
Seven former Bills and owner have a shot to follow Kelly.
by Ajitpaul Mangat
Bills Daily Correspondent
August 12, 2002
The under appreciated Bills teams of the early 90ís were ridiculed during their four year super bowl run as ďlosersĒ but in the recent wake of teams being dismantled every other year, the Bills accomplishment is now being looked at as something special and a feat that may never happen again. Thus far, two members of those teams have been given the ultimate honor by being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Last year the man in charge of those teams Marv Levy was inducted and just recently Jim Kelly the leader of the Bills revolutionary K-Gun offense was inducted. It is certain more players from those teams will be voted in but how many, remains a question on every Billsí fans mind. The following is a list of Bills who may be inducted from most likely (slam dunk) to least likely (full court prayer):Slam Dunk
Bruce Smith, DE (1985- ). Bruce Smith has been a defensive force his entire career, from his rookie season in 1985 with the Bills, throughout his prime (1986-1998) and even now in the twilight years of his career in Washington. Bruce Smith is as sure a hall of famer as there is. Smithís career speaks for itself: 186 sacks, eleven pro bowl nominations and two defensive player of the year awards (1990, 1996). Smithís statistics are obviously impressive but his consistency is what has set him apart and catapulted him to hall of fame status. During the prime of his career, Smith recorded twelve double digit sack season in thirteen years, missing the mark only once because of injury. If he has two more good seasons Smith will surpass Reggie White as the all-time sack leader and become arguably the greatest defensive end in league history.
Thurman Thomas, RB (1988-2000). Thurman Thomas will go down as one of the most underrated players in NFL history. This has much to do with his laid back demeanor off the field and the flashier players who played in his era. Thomas was never a great pure between the tackle runner but was a great multi-purpose back, which many people often overlook. After Roger Craigís career and before Marshall Faulk was traded to the Rams, Thomas was the best multi-purpose back in the NFL. Thomas finished first in total yards from scrimmage from 1989-1992 and was second in 1993 and currently ranks sixth all-time. Thomasí rushing yards were not too bad either. He finished in the top six in rushing from 1989-1994 and currently ranks ninth all-time. Like Smith, Thomas was very consistent, rushing for 1000 yards, the benchmark for great backs, eight straight seasons from 1989-1996. Thomasí miscues and errors in the Super Bowls have overshadowed his great career but what should be realized is that without him there would have been no Super Bowls for the Bills to begin with.
Andre Reed, WR (1985-2000). Andre Reed was a man whose total career was greater than the sum of its parts. Reed never had an amazing single season or back to back great seasons. Reed finished with more than 1000 yards receiving four times in his career and had only one 10 touchdown season. Those numbers appear to be from a good but certainly not great player; Reedís career was more than just statistics, however. Reed was a fearless player who put his body on the line by going over the middle and up for overthrown balls. Like Smith and Thomas, Reed was not a flash in a pan player who had four or five great years between six bad ones, Reed was a player with twelve very good seasons that spanned almost his entire sixteen year career. Reedís total career stats stand out as hall of fame numbers: seven pro bowls, third all-time in receptions, sixth in yards and seventh in receiving touchdowns. Reed will make the Hall of Fame but when is always an interesting question for receivers because there statistics are often only judged against their peers a decade after their retirement.
Three Point Shot
Ralph Wilson Jr., Owner. Ralph Wilson Jr. has been involved in the NFL since its merger with the AFL and was instrumental in getting it completed. Wilson is well liked and respected by other owners because of his history with the league and his kindness to fellow owners, helping other franchises with their economic troubles. Wilson however remains a long shot to make the hall because of his franchises 0 Super Bowls. Owners are measured on their franchiseís success on and off the field and the Bills have obviously done many good things on the field but it has not translated to any Super Bowls. Off the field the Bills have been a financial and social success in a city where itís only other professional spots team, the Sabers, remains in the midst of economic troubles. Owners are not voted in very often, making up only 5% of the hall which will hurt Wilsonís chances.
Half Court Heave
Steve Tasker, WR/STP (1985-1997). The question facing hall of fame voters is not whether Steve Tasker was a great player but whether the type of player he was is worthy of induction into the hall. Tasker will obviously not make it into the hall as a receiver, in his best season he had 21 receptions and 372 yards but he may make it in as a special teamís player. Tasker is regarded as the greatest special teamís player of all time having recorded 204 special team tackles and seven blocked punts. The greatest statistic in his favor are his seven pro bowls which he attended due to his special teamís play and pro bowl nominations are something most hall of fame voters hold in high regard. The many things working against him include the fact no special teamís player of Taskerís type has made the hall before, the fact so many players with greater statistical accomplishments are coming up for nomination and the fact the Bills never won a Super Bowl. If any special teamís player ever makes it, it will be Tasker but whether one will ever make it remains the bigger debate.
Full Court Prayer
Cornelius Bennett, LB
Darryl Talley, LB
Kent Hill, C
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