Let the debate begin. Feel free to throw darts…as long as they are dull.
With the induction of another Buffalo Bill, Andre Reed, into the Pro Football Hall of fame, I've attempted to rank who is the best among all Bills players enshrined.
Of course, I do so with full knowledge and acceptance of the risk of being skewered.
I've thought about this for a while…and have come to a few conclusions.
First of all, every one of these players was great.
In fact, they were more than great.
Each one of them was exceptional.
You have to be, to be voted into the Hall of Fame.
However, how do you determine which of these exceptional players was the best of the Bills Hall of Famers?
I settled on one criterion, to wit: Among every player who suited up for every team, Could you make an argument that they were the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) at their position?
With that in mind, and based solely on that criteria, here is my rankings of the greatest, of the Bills Hall of Fame players.
8.) Billy Shaw- Exceptional for his day, but never played a down in the NFL. That it took 25 years for him to make the Hall of Fame perhaps might tell you something.
7.) Joe DeLamielleure: I've actually seen his name appear in lists of the greatest Guards of all time. I've never seen him mentioned, tough, among even the top five of those lists.
6.) Andre Reed: He had to wait too long, to be sure. And when he left the game he was statistically near the top of the heap among all receivers in most important categories (at least, among players not named Jerry Rice) But I don't think you could make a case for Andre being the greatest receiver of all time, and again, that's the criteria we're basing this fruitless exercise on.
5.) James Lofton: He's only here because (over the course of his entire career) I actually think he was a better receiver than Andre. Just one man's opinion, mind you. Please don't shoot me or be mean to my kids.
4.) Jim Kelly. No doubt, he was the greatest quarterback in the history of the Bills. It's not even close. However, ask yourself, who are the five greatest quarterbacks of all time? Who are the seven greatest?? We've all heard this debated numerous times, and (at least outside of Western New York) Jim Kelly is almost never even in the conversation.
3.)Thurman Thomas: Exceptional? No doubt. Longevity, statistics, versatility…they're all there for Thurman. His skills as a runner, blocker, and pass catcher certainly make him among the most complete RB's of all time. But here again, when it comes to naming the greatest running back of all time, his name isn't much uttered with those of Jim Brown, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, Emmit Smith. One former Bill is sometimes mentioned in that conversation, though…
2.) O.J. Simpson: He's often mentioned as "among" the best running backs in the history of the NFL. More so than Thurman…albeit almost never at the top of the heap. There is one former Bills player, however…..
1.) Bruce Smith: I think you could make a case for pro football's all time sack leader as the greatest defensive end who ever played. That would be, of course, a subject for endless debate. But remember how I'm basing my determination of who the best Bills Hall of Famer is. A question. Which is, (to repeat) that among the thousands who have suited up to play on Sundays, could you say they were the best who ever played at their position? Maybe Bruce was the GOAT at his position…or maybe he was not. H
owever, I think you could make a stronger case for Bruce, than for any of the other exceptional Bills players on this list.
Of course, given the primary criteria (greatest of all time at their position) to determine the rankings here, I can only draw one certain conclusion.
Steve Tasker belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Follow me on Twitter: @DaveMcKinley2