Buffalo Bills special teamer Steve Tasker was trimmed when the Pro Football Hall of Fame cut their list from 26 semifinalists to 15 finalists on Thursday. It was Tasker’s final year of eligibility as a modern era candidate and ninth time he made it to the semifinals. He will need to go through the senior committee process now.
Another primary special teamer, Devin Hester, did make the list of finalists. Hester was a returner who made splash plays all over the field and garnered more support as a result.
Tasker joined the Bills via a waiver claim on November 8, 1986. That date is significant because it was the first transaction under Buffalo’s new head coach, Marv Levy, who was hired just five days prior. Levy, himself a former special teams coach, knew that he needed to prioritize that phase of the game, and while Tasker was listed as a wide receiver, he spent nearly all of his time covering kicks and punts on special teams.
Tasker made seven Pro Bowl teams in his 13-year career. He is the only special teams player ever to be voted MVP of the Pro Bowl, earning the honor in the 1993 Pro Bowl. He made four special teams tackles in that game, adding a blocked field goal and a fumble recovery to his ledger.
For his career, Tasker was credited with 204 special teams tackles and seven blocked punts. In 2000, he was voted one of 26 players deemed “The Best of the Best ALL TIME Players in the History of the Game” by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. While he didn’t contribute much, if at all, as a receiver early in his career, he found some success as a wideout as the Bills’ core group aged and disbanded. With quarterback Jim Kelly wanting players he could trust, he and other offensive players lobbied for Tasker to see more time on offense, and he caught 41 passes for 627 yards and six touchdowns during the 1995 and 1996 seasons.
None of the 2022 finalists played for the Bills at any point in their careers.
- Jared Allen, DE—2004-2007 Kansas City Chiefs, 2008-2013 Minnesota Vikings, 2014-2015 Chicago Bears, 2015 Carolina Panthers
- Willie Anderson, OT—1996-2007 Cincinnati Bengals, 2008 Baltimore Ravens
- Ronde Barber, DB–1997-2012 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Tony Boselli, T—1995-2001 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2002 Houston Texans (injured reserve)
- LeRoy Butler, S—1990-2001 Green Bay Packers
- Devin Hester, PR/KR/WR—2006-2013 Chicago Bears, 2014-2015 Atlanta Falcons, 2016 Baltimore Ravens, 2016 Seattle Seahawks
- Torry Holt, WR—1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars
- Andre Johnson, WR—2003-2014 Houston Texans, 2015 Indianapolis Colts, 2016 Tennessee Titans
- Sam Mills, LB—1986-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-97 Carolina Panthers
- Richard Seymour, DE/DT—2001-08 New England Patriots, 2009-2012 Oakland Raiders
- Zach Thomas, LB—1996-2007 Miami Dolphins, 2008 Dallas Cowboys
- DeMarcus Ware, LB—2005-2013 Dallas Cowboys, 2014-2016 Denver Broncos
- Reggie Wayne, WR—2001-2014 Indianapolis Colts
- Patrick Willis, LB—2007-2014 San Francisco 49ers
- Bryant Young, DE/DT—1994-2007 San Francisco 49ers
Anquan Boldin was also a trimmed semifinalist, and he spent part of his final offseason with the Bills in 2017.
The initial list of 122 nominees featured seven former Bills plus Boldin:
- Guard Ruben Brown (1995-2003)
- Linebacker Cornelius Bennett (1987-1995)
- Fullback Larry Centers (2001-02)
- Linebacker London Fletcher (2002-06)
- Linebacker Takeo Spikes (2003-06)
- Special teams Steve Tasker (1986-97)
- Cornerback Troy Vincent (2004-05)