May 11, 1971: Bills Trade AFL Defensive Stalwart Ron McDole

The Buffalo Bills parted ways with a cornerstone of their AFL-championship defenses on this date forty years ago when they sent Ron McDole to the Washington Redskins.

McDole is probably not a name most Bills fans are familiar with. Hopefully this article can change that. McDole was the St. Louis Cardinals 50th overall selection in the 1961 NFL draft but last only one season. (He also went 25th overall in the AFL draft but chose the Cardinals over the Denver Broncos.) He spent the 1962 season with the AFL's Houston Oilers before signing with the Buffalo Bills.

In 1963 he joined the Bills and entered the starting lineup playing 12 games at left defensive end. In 1964 and 1965 the Bills won AFL Championships on the back of their suffocating defense. They held teams without a rushing touchdown in 17 straight games from '64 to '65. McDole was a captain from 1964 to the time of his trade and an AFL All-Star in 1965 and 1967.

Buffalo Rumblings has named him as the 29th-best player in team history. Kurupt said this about McDole's career in that article.

"Blessed with athleticism that wasn't seen too often in a man his size at the time, McDole was utilized as a type of hybrid player during the 1965 AFL Championship game against the San Diego Chargers. In a move that is commonplace in today's NFL, defensive coordinator Joe Collier decided to drop McDole into coverage while blitzing linebackers Mike Stratton and John Tracey. The unique move helped the Bills' defense pitch a shutout as they won their first AFL title 23-0. The Bills won the title again the following year, with McDole earning his first of two All-Pro selections. He played another five seasons in Buffalo before being traded to Washington, much to the chagrin of Bills fans everywhere."

His six interceptions lead the team list of interceptions by a defensive lineman. He holds the team record with two safeties.

After the 1970 season, head coach John Rauch thought McDole had lost a step and traded him to the Washington Redskins for third- and fourth-round picks.

"He has not played what I would call winning football for the last three years," said Rauch of McDole on a local radio station.

The public nature of the comments caused a rift between the city and the team with owner Ralph Wilson publicly backing the former Bill, McDole. Rauch resigned and the Bills hired Harvey Johnson to take over for the 1971 season.

McDole continued his long and sterling career with the Redskins. He was named to the All-AFL second team and the Bills' Silver Anniversary team.

For more on McDole, go read Kurupt's excellent write-up in the Top 50 series.

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