The Buffalo Bills have had many players since their inception in 1960. Buffalo has had numerous hall of fame players and countless pro bowlers. Throughout their history, many players have made an impact on not just Bills’ history but NFL history. The Buffalo Bills’ run of four straight super bowls in the early 90’s produced some of the best players in franchise history, but other eras have also had some of Buffalo’s best. Here are the top ten Buffalo Bills of all-time.
Top Ten Buffalo Bills of All-Time
1. Bruce Smith, Defensive End, 1985-1999
Smith is arguably the greatest pass rusher of all-time. He is the NFL’s all-time leader in sacks with 200. Smith made 11 pro bowls with the Bills and was named first-team all-pro eight times. He also had 43 forced fumbles in his career showcasing his ability to make plays on defense. Smith played a huge role in the Bills’ run of four straight super bowl appearances. The two-time defensive player of the year earned a spot in the hall of fame in 2009. Smith will always be remembered in Buffalo as a legendary player and greatest Buffalo Bill of all-time who dominated the NFL for 15 seasons as a Buffalo Bill.
2. Jim Kelly, Quarterback, 1986-1996
Jim Kelly is the greatest quarterback in Bills’ history. Kelly is the Bills’ all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. He also led the Bills to four consecutive super bowls in the 1990s. Kelly made five pro bowls appearances and had one first-team all-pro season in 1991. He even led the NFL in passing touchdowns in 1991. Kelly started his Bills career late at age 26 after he boycotted playing for the franchise after they drafted him in the 1983 NFL draft. However, Kelly joined the Bills in 1986 and quickly forgot about his unwillingness to be a Buffalo Bill. The hall of fame inducted Kelly in 2002 as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history and the best in Bills’ history.
3. Thurman Thomas, Running Back, 1988-1999
Thomas is another incredible player from the 1990’s Bills. Thomas had 880 rushing yards in his rookie season with Buffalo and never looked back. Then, in his sophomore season, he made a pro bowl and followed that up with two consecutive first-team all-pro seasons. In that time, he won an offensive player of the year award and an NFL MVP. Thomas is the Bills’ all-time leader in rushing yards and touchdowns. His five total pro bowls and eight consecutive seasons with 1,000 rushing yards are big reasons Thomas was inducted into the hall of fame in 2007. It’s easy to see why he is the Buffalo Bills all-time greatest running back.
4. Andre Reed, Wide Receiver, 1985-1999
Continuing with the 90’s Bills here with Andre Reed. Reed had a slightly different path to success as a fourth-round pick in the 1985 NFL draft. Reed had average seasons in his first three years with Buffalo but, in his fourth season, he finally made his first pro bowl. He would then go on a run of seven consecutive pro bowl appearances. Reed had four 1,000-yard seasons and played 15 seasons as a Buffalo Bills. Reed entered the hall of fame in 2014 as the Bills’ all-time leader in receiving yards and touchdowns.
5. O.J. Simpson, Running Back, 1969-1977
The first non-90’s Bill on the list is O.J. Simpson. Simpson is the Bills’ second-leading rusher of all-time. He recorded the first 2,000-yard rushing season in NFL history in 1973. Simpson had an ok start to his career although he did make a pro bowl in his rookie season. However, in 1972, Simpson broke out into the star he is known as. He earned a first-team all-pro nomination for his league-leading 1,251 rushing yard season. He followed that with four more first-team all-pro seasons for five consecutive seasons. Simpson dominated the early 70’s earning an NFL MVP in 1973 and the offensive player of the year award. Simpson was inducted into the hall of fame in 1985 and will forever be a Buffalo Bills legend.
6. Jack Kemp, Quarterback, 1962-1969
Kemp only played seven seasons as a Bill, but he had a dominant run with the franchise. He had six pro bowl appearances in his seven seasons with Buffalo including a first-team all-pro season in 1965 that saw him win the AFL MVP. Kemp won two AFL championships with Buffalo before the NFL merger in 1966. He is the second player to be inducted into the Bills’ ring of honor. Kemp is the quarterback that led the Bills into the NFL era and is the only Bills quarterback to win a championship. These accomplishments will keep Kemp in the conversation of the greatest Bills of all-time forever.
7. Joe DeLamielleure, Offensive Guard, 1973-1985
Buffalo drafted DeLamielleure in the first round of the 1973 NFL draft. In his rookie season, DeLamielleure started on the offensive line that led O.J. Simpson to the first 2,000-yard rushing season in NFL history. This offensive line would become known as the “Electric Company”. DeLamielleure continued to play great football with Buffalo making five pro bowls. He also had three consecutive first-team all-pro seasons during that time. DeLamielleure is a Bills’ ring of honor member. The Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted him in 2003.
8. Cornelius Bennett, Linebacker, 1987-1995
The Bills did not draft Bennett in 1987 but did acquire him via trade at the 1987 trade deadline. The trade sent Bennett to Buffalo while Eric Dickerson went to the Colts and Greg Bell went to the Rams. Bennett would go on to play nine seasons with Buffalo. In his career, Bennett made five pro bowls and had a first-team all-pro season in 1988. He was a key contributor on the defense that went to four straight super bowls. Bennett had 793 tackles and 52.5 sacks with Buffalo. Bennett had an incredible career with Buffalo. He will be remembered as one of the best linebackers in Bills’ history.
9. Darryl Talley, Linebacker, 1983-1994
Darryl Talley is another former Bills linebacker who dominated with Buffalo. Talley is the Bills’ all-time leader in tackles with over 1,100 tackles. He had two pro bowl appearances and had a key role in Buffalo’s super bowl teams. Talley outperformed his second-round pick status for Buffalo and has become a legend of the franchise. Talley is a member of the Bills’ ring of honor and will continue to be recognized as one of the best defenders in franchise history.
10. Steve Tasker, Wide Receiver/Special Teams, 1986-1997
Steve Tasker is an innovator who changed the NFL landscape with his play. Tasker joined the Bills off of waivers after the Houston Oilers waived Tasker in his sophomore season. After that, Tasker would earn a pro-bowl appearance in his first full season with the Bills. He would go on to earn seven total pro bowls nominations as a Bill and all of this comes from his success on special teams. Tasker had a total of 51 receptions in his 13-year career. However, on special teams, Tasker played better than anyone. He transformed the gunner position on special teams. Tasker is deserving of a spot in the hall of fame for his work on special teams. Tasker is a member of the Bills’ ring of honor. He is often mentioned as one of the best 90’s Bills. He is also considered one of the best Buffalo Bills of all-time.
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