Nate Odomes was one of the best cornerbacks in Bills' history. (photo source)
CB Nate Odomes (1987-1993) | 5'10", 188 lbs.
Notable Achievements: 2x Pro Bowl selection (1992-1993); 1993 Second-Team All Pro; Member of Bills' All-Time Team
Nathaniel Bernard Odomes was born on August 25, 1965 in Columbus, Georgia. The Bills drafted Odomes in the second round of the 1987 Draft with the No. 29 pick of the round out of the University of Wisconsin. He played for the Badgers for three seasons as a cornerback, as well as a punt and kick returner. He finished his career third in school history with nine interceptions (since eclipsed by others), fifth in career punt return yards with 359, and with the most kick return yards in a season with 616 in 1986. He had a very good career at Wisconsin and finished with a strong final season in 1986 with 7 interceptions; he also held the kick return yards record and was recognized as a member of the All-Big Ten Team. He was an immediate contributor for the Bills, starting 12 games at right cornerback in his rookie year. Odomes would remain in the starting lineup for the remainder of his Bills career, which spanned a total of seven seasons, missing just one start in 1993 due to a shoulder injury. After the 1993 season, Odomes would sign a big 4-year, $8.4M contract with the Seattle Seahawks. Unfortunately for Nate and the Seahawks, he would hurt his knee in a charity basketball game prior to training camp in 1994 and missed the entire season. He would hurt the same knee in training camp the following year and wound up never playing a down for Seattle. He joined the Atlanta Falcons for the 1995 season, but wasn't the same and only played in seven games before calling it quits.
Like many other former Bills on this list, Odomes was a major part of the Super Bowl years. He developed into one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL during his seven seasons in Buffalo, but like many future Bills corners, he found the free agency treasures too alluring to remain a Bill for his entire career. Unlike the others, Odomes never saw any success after leaving Buffalo due to his horrific and on-going knee issues. It's a shame that Odomes never got to prove his worth in Seattle, because he left Buffalo as arguably the top corner in the league, and easily one of the best in team history.
The Bills had high hopes for Odomes when he joined the team his rookie year. He quickly became a standout defender on a defense that was looking for one in the secondary. He wound up starting twelve games his rookie season opposite young veteran Derrick Burroughs. Just getting his feet wet, he finished the year with a pair of fumble recoveries. He added his first interception the following season as he became more comfortable as the Bills' top cover corner.
Odomes really burst onto the scene in 1989, as he finished the season with five interceptions, proving he was one of the most dangerous corners in the league and a guy quarterbacks wanted to avoid. The following year, Odomes' play helped the Bills capture their first AFC Championship despite only picking off one pass. However, he was part of a couple of big comebacks early in the season. In Week 4, the Bills trailed the Denver Broncos 21-9 early in the fourth quarter when Odomes raced in to block a David Treadwell field goal attempt. Cornelius Bennett scooped up the ball and ran 80 yards for a score. The next week, the Bills had already scored 17 fourth quarter points to take a 31-24 lead over the Los Angeles Raiders when Odomes made a play that for some reason still registers vividly in my mind. In his Tales From the Buffalo Bills, Steve Tasker sums it up perfectly:
Nate Odomes literally stole the ball from the hands of LA receiver Willie Gault and ran it in...
The 1992 season saw Odomes finally get recognized with his first Pro Bowl berth. He finished the season with 5 interceptions, and added perhaps the biggest interception of his career in The Comback game. Odomes backed up his first Pro Bowl season with a monster year in 1993. He finished the season with 9 interceptions, tied for the NFL lead, and added another fumble recovery for a touchdown as he was named to his second consecutive Pro Bowl. The nine interceptions are just one behind the single season team record of ten shared by Billy Atkins in 1961 and Tom Janik in 1967. In his final game with the Bills, Odomes had a key second quarter interception to help the team build a 13-6 halftime lead over the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXVIII. Just like Odomes' NFL career, that game finished with major disappointment.
Odomes seemed to find a way to add interceptions at crucial moments. He had a pair of interceptions in the 1989 opener against the Dolphins, the game in which Jim Kelly scored on a QB draw as time expired. He has the aforementioned interception in Super Bowl XXVIII. But his most memorable interception came in The Comeback Game. After the Bills completed the comeback to send the game to overtime, Odomes helped the team get the chance to win it. On a third down early in overtime, Warren Moon dropped back to throw his 50th pass, but overthrew WR Ernest Givins. Odomes nabbed it and the rest is history.
Nate Odomes was one of the best, and maybe underappreciated, Bills during the Super Bowl days. He had developed into one of the NFL's best cornerbacks and his play on the field backed that up. Despite a rough end to his career, Odomes is best remembered as one of the leaders of the Bills secondary, along with Henry Jones, who's big plays seemed to come at some of the most opportune times for the team. A player who played bigger than his 5'10" frame would suggest, Odomes will remain one of the best corners in Bills history for years to come.
Career Stats with the Bills
108 games, 107 starts
26 interceptions (No. 5 in franchise history)
9 forced fumbles (No. 6)
2 fumble return TD (No. 1)
360 tackles (No. 8)
Nate Odomes tackles Dallas Cowboys TE Jay Novacek during Super Bowl XXVII