NFL

Buffalo Bills’ Mount Rushmore

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Sure, the Buffalo Bills are one of the several teams to never win a Super Bowl, but that doesn’t take away from the great talent they’ve possessed over the years.

The Bills have been to the Super Bowl four times and ironically, they went to the big game four consecutive seasons.

Having said that, it’s time to acknowledge the four greatest players in Bills history.

Bruce Smith – Not only is Bruce Smith the most dominant defensive player in Bills history, he’s one of the best in NFL history.

Out of college, Smith was expected to do big things right away and that’s exactly what transpired.

Smith was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1985 NFL Draft.

For his rookie campaign, Smith totaled 6.5 sacks.

The next five years, Smith hit double-digit sacks each season.

The former Virginia Tech product reached the Pro Bowl 11 times, while being named a first-team All-Pro nine times and winning Defensive Player of the Year three times.

It’s safe to say Smith was an absolute beast.

Jim Kelly – This is a no-brainer.

For a league that worships guys under center, today’s NFL would’ve adored Jim Kelly.

Kelly was selected third overall in the 1983 draft, which is widely regarded as one of the best classes ever. Nonetheless, Kelly didn’t want to play for Buffalo immediately.

The Hall of Fame quarterback elected to play for the Houston Gamblers before eventually joining the Bills in 1986.

As mentioned before, the Bills appeared in four consecutive Super Bowls behind the leadership of Kelly.

Throughout his Bills tenure, Kelly completed 60.1 percent of his passes for 35, 467 yards while tossing 237 touchdowns. Also, Kelly led 22 fourth-quarter comebacks during his lucrative career.

Kelly was a five-time Pro Bowler and was an All-Pro three times.

O.J. Simpson – When you see this name, you think about his off the field drama first.

With that being said, O.J. Simpson is one of the top running backs the game has ever seen.

Just like Bruce Smith, O.J. went No. 1 overall of his 1969 draft class.

However, things started off slow for Simpson, as he didn’t experience his first 1,000 yard season until his fourth year, when he rushed for 1,251 yards on 292 carries.

From that point on, O.J. went on to become a nightmare for opposing defenses. Simpson was the first player to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season, gaining 2,003 in 1973. What makes this feat even more impressive is that he did it during a 14-game season.

For his efforts, Simpson was a four-time rushing champion and was named to six Pro Bowls. He was a five-time All-Pro, while earning MVP honors in 1973.

Thurman Thomas –  From one great running back to another.

Falling to the second round may have been the best thing to ever happen for Thomas. As humans, proving others wrong is a feeling we desire, even if we’re afraid to admit it.

Therefore, it wouldn’t surprise me if Thomas used this as extra fuel.

Coming off knee injury, Thomas impressed early.

The Oklahoma State product led the AFC in rushing three times (1990, 1991 and 1993). Additionally, Thomas earned MVP honors in ’91.

Thomas played in 13 NFL seasons.

Twelve coming in a Bills uniform, where he was a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro.

What a stellar Hall of Fame career.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.