In 1985, the Buffalo Bills drafted a player that would forever change their history, and would ignite a stadium of diehards for years to come.
The Bills selected DE Bruce Smith No. 1 overall that year, and though Jim Kelly was still a year from joining the team, and Thurman Thomas was still three years away, Bruce made an impact on a hapless defense immediately.
Arguably one of the most exciting defensive players in the entire NFL for 15 years, Bruce accumulated 200 sacks, 11 Pro Bowls, two Defensive Player of the Year awards, and helped lead the Buffalo Bills to four straight Super Bowl appearances.
In his fifteen years with the Bills, Bruce primarily played in a 3-4 defense. That normally made it difficult for any defensive end to produce double-digit sacks, but Bruce was able to accumulate double-digit sacks in 12 of his 15 years as a Bill. Every week, another team was forced to change their offensive scheme around Smith; often times Bruce was to be double and triple teamed.
Bruce Smith was one of the most feared defensive ends of all-time.
As a Bills' fan going to Rich Stadium, now known as the Ralph, I was treated to some of the best players in the league for many years.
The hurry-up, no huddle offense was exciting, explosive and fast paced. But for sure, Bruce Smith, along with Cornelius Bennett and Darryl Talley, made defense just as exciting as the offense.
There were many games I went to back in the late 80's and throughout the 90's that, when I went home, I had no voice from cheering so loudly.
Though as an organization, the Bills lack some respect for what they accomplished throughout the 90's, Bills' fans will always remember how exciting and fun those teams were.
It was like a college atmosphere at the stadium, we knew we were going to see a great game, and the Bills were always in it, never out of a game, not with Jimbo, Thurman, Andre, Tasker, and Marv, "Where else would you rather be than right here right now?"
Congratulations to Bruce and Ralph for being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Hopefully Steve Tasker and Andre Reed will take their rightful places next to their teammates, coach, and owner very soon in Canton. And thanks for the memories through all those years!