Starting today, I am going to be starting a weekly segment which will take a trip down memory lane. Now, since my “memory” isn’t quite as extensive as some of you out there, you’ll have to bear with me. Fortunately, the extents of my memory are during the time when the Bills were a perennial force in the NFL.
If you’ve ever been to a Bills game (or any team’s for that matter) and you’re like me, one of the things you do while roaming the stadium is see who is on the fans’ jerseys. Some are obvious, like a #12 or #78, but when you see a #80 or a #88 you may be find yourself looking at the name on the back, followed by an “ohh yeahh…I remember him.” There are countless former Bills who have etched a special place in the fans’ hearts. For example, #89. You could probably list a couple players who wore #89, but there's only one that stands out.
So, without further adieu...Remember him?
Position: Wide Receiver, Special Teams
Drafted: 1985, 9th round, 226 overall – Houston Oilers
Acquired: Claimed off waivers, November 1986
Years in Buffalo: 1986-1997
- 7x Pro Bowl selection (1987, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995)
- 1993 Pro Bowl MVP
- 24th inductee of Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame (2007)
Career Stats (Receiving)
In 13 years in the NFL, Steve Tasker never compiled huge statistical numbers, but his accomplishments and contributions to the team cannot be measured in statistics. Tasker was a gunner, a position dedicated to flying down the field on a kick or punt with the intent of limiting the progress of the returner. During the Bills’ dominant years, Tasker was regularly seen hitting returners as they catch the ball or tackling them and causing a turnover. But, my all time favorite was seeing him down at the goal line saving a Chris Mohr punt from going into the end zone and pinning the opposing team inside the 1-yardline.
We see all the time, including the start of this 2010 campaign, how important special teams is to the outcome of the game. Without a doubt, Tasker was the most dominating special teams player in league history.
Steve Tasker has been on the list of NFL Hall of Fame Preliminary Nominees every year since 2003 and was ranked number nine on the NFL Network’s “Top Ten Not in HOF.” Many voters and analysts argue that they can’t induct a player who only played five minutes a game, or every fourth play. They say that inductees should play on one side of the ball, but you don’t penalize an offensive or defensive player because he didn’t play on the other side of the ball or on special teams. However, many of these same people agree that special teams are a third of the game. College running backs, wide receivers and defensive backs usually raise their draft stock if they are also a special teams threat.
Tasker, now a CBS color commentator, was one of the best (if not, the very best) special teams player in NFL history. Though his stats may not have been of great notoriety, he was a huge part of the early 90s Bills dynasty and was once referred by Marv Levy as “the most important man on the team.”
Interestingly, in his last NFL game, the Bills’ 1997 season finale in Green Bay, Steve Tasker was ejected for bumping a referee.
There’s no doubt, when I see a fan wearing a number 89 Bills jersey, it will always say Tasker on the back.