Sunday, July 17, 2016

Buffalo Bills

Here are the 1971 Buffalo Bills, just 3 years removed from being the worst team in football in 1968 with a record of 1-12-1 (awarding them the #1 pick in the draft - O.J. Simpson).

After minor improvement to 4-10 in 1969 and 3-10-1 in 1970, the 1971 squad fell back to 1-13, once again giving them the #1 overall pick (Walt Patulski). It would be 1973 until they finished over .500 again.

Dennis Shaw was the Bills' 2nd-round pick in 1970, and was the starting QB for his first 3 seasons. After backing-up rookie Joe Ferguson in 1973, Shaw finished his career as the Cardinals' backup QB in '74 and '75.

What a varied career O.J. Simpson has had! Running back, rental car pitchman, broadcaster, movie star, and criminal. He was the #1 overall pick in 1969, but didn't really produce until his 4th season, when the Bills finally assembled a good team around him. Simpson was a 5-time Pro Bowler (1972-76), and led the NFL in rushing 4 times during that span, including a record 2003 yards in 1973. After being limited to 7 games in 1977, he finished his career with 2 seasons in San Francisco ('78, '79). The Juice was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.

Haven Moses was the Bills' #1 pick in 1968, and was their starting split end for his first 4 years. After splitting the 1972 season between the Bills and the Broncos, he was one of Denver's starting wide receivers from 1973 to 1980. Haven caught a career-high 54 passes in 1979. He finished his career as a part-time player for the Broncos in 1981.

Austin Denney was drafted by the Cowboys in 1966, but did not play that season. He found work as the Bears' starting tight end from 1967-69, replacing the traded Mike Ditka. He was the Bills' starting tight end in 1970, and played 1 game for them in 1971, his final season.

Joe O'Donnell was drafted by the Bills (and Packers) in 1964, and played his entire 7-year career with the Bills (1964-67, 69-71), the last 5 seasons as their starting right guard. He also played for the WFL's Birmingham team in 1974 and 1975.

Someone forgot to tell Howard he's a tackle, not a center! Howard Kindig was drafted by the Chargers in 1964, and was their starting defensive end from 1965 until midway through the 1967 season. Traded to Buffalo during the 1967 season, he switched to offensive tackle and played for the Bills through the 1971 season. Kindig also played for the Dolphins ('72) and the Jets ('74).

Edgar Chandler was the Bills' 4th pick in the 1968 draft, and was an outside linebacker for his first 2 seasons. He started at MLB during the 1970 and 1971 seasons, but was limited to 1 game in 1972. He finished his career in 1973 as the Patriots' starting middle linebacker.

Drafted by the Bills in 1966, Paul Guidry played 7 seasons in Buffalo and was the starting left linebacker from 1968 to 1972. He finished his career with the Oilers in 1973.

"Butch" Byrd was the Bills' 4th pick in the 1964 draft, and was their starting right cornerback for his first 7 seasons, making 5 Pro Bowls during that time. After the 1970 season, he moved on to the Broncos as a spare defensive back in his final season.

John Pitts was the Bills' #1 pick in the 1967 draft, and played 6 full seasons in Buffalo, the final 4 as a starting safety. John split the 1973 season between Buffalo and Denver, and after a full season as a Broncos' backup in 1974, he spent his final season (1975) on Denver's and Cleveland's bench.

Also check out the 1968 Bills.