The Buffalo Bills announced Wednesday that former defensive end and special teams ace Mark Pike died from Non-Hodgkin lymphoma at the age of 57.
Pike spent his entire 13-year NFL career with the Bills from 1986 to 1998 after Buffalo selected him in the seventh round of the 1986 NFL draft out of Georgia Tech.
Chris Brown of the Bills' official website reported that Pike had also recently been diagnosed with COVID-19 and pneumonia, which complicated his condition.
While Pike rarely played on defense during his 173 career regular-season games, he was a key part of a Bills special teams unit that was often among the best in the NFL.
Bills legend Steve Tasker, who is widely considered the greatest special teamer of all time and was Pike's teammate from 1986-1997, told Brown what made Pike such a special player: "He was a big man who played special teams which was a matchup nightmare for our opponents. He was a unique specimen. His ability to run and play special teams with his versatility was unbelievable."
Despite being listed at 6'4" and 272 pounds, Pike displayed impressive speed and ability to get up and down the field in kick and punt coverage. As a result, Pike ranks second in NFL history in special teams tackles with 255, per Brown.
Pike was part of each of the Bills' four consecutive Super Bowl teams from 1990-93, and he appeared in 20 playoff games during his career, making 34 special teams tackles in those contests.
Pro Football Hall of Famer Marv Levy, who was the Bills' head coach for nearly the entirety of Pike's career from 1986-1997, praised Pike, saying:
"It had been such a great privilege for me to have been his coach with the Buffalo Bills during the 1990's when Mark had been such an integral part in contributing to the success our teams enjoyed during our four trips to those Super Bowl games and beyond. Mark was not only an outstanding defensive lineman, linebacker, and special teams standout, but he was the epitome of all that I had ever hoped our players would be like."
Pike is best known for his special teams contributions, but he did play some defense as well, earning his only career start in 1991 and recording his only career sack in 1992.
In addition to his time in the NFL and starring collegiately at Georgia Tech, the Elizabethtown, Kentucky, native was a standout at Dixie Heights High School in Erlanger, Kentucky, as well.
Pike is survived by his wife, daughter and two sons.