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March 19, 1996: Buffalo Bills Sign LB Chris Spielman

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Chris Spielman spent the first eight years of his career with the Detroit Lions, earning four trips to the Pro Bowl and an All-Pro nod in that time frame. On this date in 1996, he became the latest big-name free agent acquisition for the Buffalo Bills.

Spielman's career trajectory began rising quickly while he was still at Ohio State University. He was born near the home of the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and destroyed everyone in his path in 1987. He won the Lombardi trophy, was named OSU's Most Valuable Player, and was ultimately named to the 2009 class of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Spielman was drafted 29th overall by the Lions, and by the age of 30 had put together a very successful career, as noted above. The Lions had made the playoffs four times in the previous five years and set numerous team records. Even with that success in the motor city, Spielman signed with the Bills 15 years ago today.

Buffalo needed a replacement for departing inside linebacker Cornelius Bennett, and Spielman stepped into the middle of the 3-4 defense. While with Buffalo, he made an immediate impact, recording 111 tackles to easily lead the team while starting all 16 games.

A year later, his luck would change dramatically. He suffered a spinal neck injury in 1997 which required dangerous surgery. He never played for Buffalo again.

He returned to the NFL a year later in 1999 with the Cleveland Browns, but suffered another neck injury, forcing his retirement.

Spielman is currently a successful college football broadcaster, working for industry titan ESPN. He also spent one year as a coach in the Arena Football League.

Spielman's name has been in the news a lot in recent years, but not for his own actions. His late wife, Stefanie, survived four bouts with breast cancer, but in 2009 she succumbed to the disease after being afflicted a fifth time. To donate to the Stefanie Spielman fund, you can head over to the OSU website and give.