Hall of Fame OG Joe DeLamielleure (Photo Source)
Throughout the storied history of the franchise, the Buffalo Bills have had many excellent players pass through the doors of the team's facilities. We've discussed a lot of them recently, including Hall of Fame (and potential Hall of Fame) talents like Jim Kelly, O.J. Simpson, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed.
Who knew, however, that Buffalo's deepest position of all-time - at least offensively - may be offensive guard?
Today, when voting for our two starting guards on our Buffalo Rumblings Best of the Bills Team, we have four candidates to choose from. Two are Hall of Fame players, one went to four Super Bowls, and a third is currently finishing out his active career and could very well end up in the Hall of Fame himself. There's plenty of talent to choose from here, to be sure; here are your four candidates for starting guard on our Best of the Bills Team:
Billy Shaw ('61-'69): A long-standing member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Shaw was the key to an offense that drove the Bills to two AFL Championships in 1964 and 1965. Shaw blocked for the dynamic rushing duo of Cookie Gilchrist and Wray Carlton, and was the up-front catalyst for that combination's domination. In his nine professional seasons - all spent in Buffalo - Shaw made eight Pro Bowls and was elected first team All-Pro five times. Simply put, Shaw might be the best overall offensive lineman in team history, and his resume proves that.
Joe DeLamielleure ('73-'79, '85): When you're talking about best overall offensive line units in Bills history, "The Electric Company" - you know, the guys who turned on "The Juice" - have to be the first to come to mind. Joe DeLamielleure was the leader and best player of that group. Paving the way for record-setting rushing performances by O.J. Simpson, DeLamielleure made five Pro Bowl appearances and was voted first team All-Pro three times. For his efforts, Joe D became the second Bills lineman elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Jim Ritcher ('80-'93): His resume isn't as impressive as the two Hall of Fame candidates, but Ritcher is one of the more underrated linemen in team history. He enjoyed a lengthy Bills career (14 seasons), playing many of them next to center Kent Hull. He was voted to the Pro Bowl twice (in 1991 and 1992) and was part of an offensive line for the team's best offensive units - led, of course, by the trio of Kelly, Thomas and Reed. His longevity and consistency on excellent teams make him a worthy candidate, though he has an uphill climb against his three competitors.
Ruben Brown ('95-'03): He may not have played on many good Bills teams (though he was a member of a few playoff teams in the late '90s), but Ruben Brown has established himself as one of the bettern offensive guards of the last decade or so. He spent nine seasons in Buffalo, earning eight trips to the Pro Bowl in that time frame (he only missed out on a trip in his rookie season of 1995). Brown has continued his lengthy career as a member of the Chicago Bears, where he added a ninth Pro Bowl to his resume and helped the Bears reach the Super Bowl two seasons ago. He has a very legitimate chance of making the Hall of Fame when his career is over.
So, folks, there are your candidates. Who makes the cut to be our Best of the Bills Team's starting guards? You're the decision-makers; cast your vote in the poll below.