The Buffalo Bills aren’t naming any past player to its Wall of Fame in 2019, per team officials. According to The Buffalo News’ Tim O’Shei, the team will instead focus its efforts around the 60th anniversary of the Bills and 100th anniversary of the NFL.
The Wall of Fame currently has 31 members, last inducting the late Cookie Gilchrist in 2017. Some thought the Bills could make a new addition after no one was inducted in 2018, but it won’t happen this year either. (In 2016 and 2018, the Bills honored Bruce Smith and Thurman Thomas by retiring their numbers instead of placing a new player on the Wall of Fame.)
The majority of the wall is dedicated to players, but coaches (Marv Levy, Lou Saban), a general manager (Bill Polian), announcer (Van Miller), head athletic trainer (Ed Abramoski), the fan base (The 12th Man), and Buffalo’s original owner (Ralph Wilson Jr.) have also been recognized by the team.
The Buffalo News revealed that Levy vouched for former linebacker Cornelius Bennett to get named to the Wall of Fame. Levy said he wrote a letter to owner Kim Pegula in November 2018 to make his case for Bennett, but didn’t know if she received it. The News confirmed through a team spokesman that she had.
Bennett’s status is murky because of a 1997 charge of sexual misconduct to which he pleaded guilty. “I understand (the committee’s) concern,” Levy wrote to Pegula. “But I also feel that he has already dearly paid the price, and that he has directed an overwhelming amount of attention to atoning for that action.”
In response to that, some may point to the Bills’ first inductee to the Wall of Fame, O.J. Simpson, recently granted parole in 2017 after serving nine years at a Nevada Prison stemming from a 2007 kidnapping and armed robbery charge. In 1997, he was unanimously found liable for the wrongful death of and battery against Ron Goldman, and battery against his former wife, Nicole Brown.
However, Simpson’s named was raised to the Wall in 1980, long before his legal troubles. The subject of removing his name has been visited, but no word on that has come from the organization.
Other logical candidates who might have been considered in 2019 were wide receiver Eric Moulds, running back Fred Jackson, and guard Ruben Brown, who was named to eight consecutive AFC Pro Bowl teams from 1996 to 2003. Even punter Brian Moorman’s name has been thrown around by fans on Twitter.
It could be hard to ignore Jackson, the former Division III football player who beat all the odds, becoming the offensive heartbeat of several Bills teams with inept quarterbacking and questionable offensive lines. Before landing on the Bills, Jackson scrapped it out in the National Indoor Football League, then NFL Europe with the Rhein Fire.
Another solution for 2019, as pointed out by WGR’s Howard Green, would be to invite as many of the living Wall of Fame members as they can for a home game weekend.
Eligible players must have played for the Bills for at least three years and be retired to hit the Wall of Fame. That’s why some feel that former defensive tackle Kyle Williams’ entry could likely come next year in 2020.