Former Buffalo Bills safety George Saimes passed away Friday night after a battle with leukemia. He was 71.
Saimes was regarded as one of the best safeties of the 1960s and was selected to the All-AFL team in 1970. He joined the Bills in 1963 after being drafted in the sixth round of both the AFL and NFL drafts and played on both AFL Championship teams for Buffalo.
A five-time AFL All-Star and three-time All-AFL, Saimes collected 22 interceptions over his career in Buffalo. He also played three seasons with Lou Saban's Denver Broncos in the early 1970s. He was highly regarded as a hard-hitting tackler who could bring anybody down in the open field.
"George Saimes was one of the surest tacklers I ever saw," Bills Alumni President Booker Edgerson told the Associated Press by phone Saturday. "If he got his hands on you, more than likely, you were going to go down."
While he lived his whole life in Canton, Ohio, Saimes has never been in consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame (though he is a member of the AFL Hall of Fame). Todd Tobias of Tales From The American Football League put together this comparison of safeties from that era to show Saimes belongs. Edgerson agrees.
"We know there wasn't a better safety before him, and I don't think there's been any since, especially in terms of tackling the intelligence of playing in the secondary with the receivers," Edgerson said.
"I think that there should've been some consideration for him going into the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, a lot of defensive backs in the `60s and `70s never really got that consideration."
In my opinion," said former Bills head coach Hank Bullough on Saturday, "George should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was that good."
The Hall of Fame did have this photo gallery of Saimes and BuffaloBills.com posted this video retrospective during voting for the 50th Anniversary Team. Saimes worked as a scout for the Washington Redskins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and was the Director of College Scouting for the Houston Texans when they were founded in 2002.