The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, is home to the greatest legends the National Football League has ever known. Despite forming in 1960, later than 13 of the NFL’s 32 franchises, the Buffalo Bills are well represented with 11 inductees in the Hall of Fame.
Wide receiver Andre Reed (1985-99) became the latest Buffalo player enshrined as a member of the Class of 2014, while general manager Bill Polian (1984-92) was inducted as a contributor in the Class of 2015.
Who will be the next member of the Bills to receive the highest honor the NFL awards? Here are a few players with ties to Buffalo who could earn enshrinement in the coming years.
Steve Tasker, special teams standout, 1985-97: Drafted in the ninth round of the 1985 draft by the Houston Oilers out of Northwestern, Tasker was placed on waivers in 1986 and scooped up by Buffalo’s future Hall of Fame coach, Marv Levy. Tasker played in seven Pro Bowls as the league’s best gunner and coverage ace on kickoff and punt returns. Tasker made the Pro Bowl in every season from 1990-95, and still holds the honor of being the only special teams standout to earn MVP of the Pro Bowl (1993). Tasker has been on the Hall of Fame’s preliminary list since 2003, and advanced to the top 25 of voting six times (2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013). Tasker would be just the fourth member of the Hall of Fame who starred on special teams, joining kicker Jan Stenerud (1991), punter Ray Guy (2014), and kicker Morten Andersen (2017). Tasker joined the Bills Wall of Fame in 2007.
Terrell Owens, wide receiver, 1996-2010: Drafted in the third round of the 1996 draft by the San Francisco 49ers out of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Owens was arguably one of the league’s most dynamic receiving threats of his era. When he retired in 2010, T.O. ranked second in receiving yards (15,934), touchdowns (153), and receptions (1,078), and was number one in popcorn sales. After wearing out his welcome in Dallas, Owens struggled to find a long-term deal and came to Orchard Park on a one-year contract in 2009. Owens hauled in 55 passes for 829 yards with five touchdowns during his one season with the Bills, including a franchise-record 98-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Jacksonville on Nov. 22.
LeSean McCoy, running back, 2009-present: Drafted in the second round of the 2009 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles out of the University of Pittsburgh, McCoy has rushed for 8,954 yards with 60 rushing touchdown during his eight-year career, and has added 2,930 receiving yards with 13 receiving TDs during his career. Traded to the Bills in 2015, McCoy amassed 1,623 all-purpose yards during the 2016 season and could easily climb the career rushing list with a few more healthy seasons. He ranks 38th entering the 2017 season.
Fred Smerlas, nose tackle, 1979-92: Drafted in the second round of the 1979 draft by the Bills out of Boston College, Smerlas was a disruptive force along the defensive line during a 14-year career with the Bills, San Francisco 49ers, and New England Patriots. Smerlas was a stalwart for Buffalo, starting every game from 1980-1986 while setting a still-standing record for consecutive starts by a nose tackle (156). Recorded 595 tackles with 29 ½ sacks, two interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries for Buffalo. Named to the Pro Bowl five times during his 11-year Bills career, including a first-team All-Pro selection in 1982. Smerlas joined the Bills Wall of Fame in 2001.
Darryl Talley, linebacker, 1983-1996: Drafted in the second round of the 1983 draft out of West Virginia, Talley often gets forgotten among his Bills defensive peers, but make no mistake about it, “Spiderman” was an exceptional talent on defense for Levy’s Bills. Talley recorded 1,095 of his 1,190 career tackles with Buffalo, earning a pair of Pro Bowl appearances while starting in 204 straight games from 1983-94. Talley was honored on the Bills Wall of Fame in 2003.
Cornelius Bennett, linebacker, 1987-2000: Drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft by the Indianapolis Colts and was traded to the Bills on Oct. 31. “Biscuit” went on to play in five Super Bowls and was named to five Pro Bowls after logging 1,048 career tackles (751 during a nine-year run with the Bills), 71.5 sacks (52.5 with the Bills), and seven interceptions (six with Buffalo). A three-time All-Pro and two-time AFC Defensive Player of the Year, Bennett’s name is not found on the Bills Wall of Fame.
Cookie Gilchrist, running back, 1962-67: Gilchrist excelled for the American Football League Buffalo Bills, leading the fledgling league in rushing yards in 1962 (1,096) and 1964 (981), and rushing touchdowns in 1962 (13) and 1963 (12). Gilchrist’s hard-nosed running produced 122 yards during a 20-7 win over the San Diego Chargers in the 1964 AFL championship game.
Along with Reed and Polian, the following former players/coaches/contributors have earned enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Guard Joe DeLamielleure (1973-79, 85), quarterback Jim Kelly (1986-96), head coach Marv Levy (1986-97), wide receiver James Lofton (1989-92), guard Billy Shaw (1961-69), running back O.J. Simpson (1969-77), defensive end Bruce Smith (1985-99), running back Thurman Thomas (1988-99), and owner Ralph Wilson Jr. (1960-2014).
Who is the next Buffalo Bills player to make the Hall of Fame?
This poll is closed
Someone else (name in comments)