Look, I like Phil Hansen. He’s a blue collar player and he’s in the top 3 for sacks in Bills history. He’s got 3 Super Bowl appearances on his resume and he’s never been the type to complain about anything. He did his job and that’s all you can ask. However, Phil Hansen on the same wall as Jim Kelly and OJ Simpson? Eh.
Don’t tell me about this guy being underrated, in fact, judging by twitter and message boards, the guy is kind of overrated if you ask me. First off, he needs to thank Bruce Smith for like 3/4′s of his career sacks. If you played with Bruce Smith, you were getting sacks. Sorry, but Phil Hansen was no Clyde Simmons.
Anyone, and I mean, anyone could have played his position.
Now, does Phil deserve to be on the WOF? I guess…He’s in the top 3 in sacks and that should matter. However, there are at least 7-8 Bills players that should be on there before him. Now, in fairness, I don’t really understand the time constraints as to when someone gets on the WOF. Jim Kelly got on there 5 years after he retired. Same with Thurman Thomas. It seems like 5 years is earliest a player can get on the WOF. Hansen has been retired since the end of the 2001 season. Anyways, lets get to the list of the Bills WOF snubs.
8) James Lofton: Yes, Lofton only played 4 seasons with the Bills and didn’t do much during his first season, but if you were to look at Jim Kelly’s QB numbers from the time Lofton was here and to when he departed, there’s a big difference. Kelly’s top four seasons in touchdown passes came when James Lofton was his 2nd wide receiver option (25, 24, 33, 23). Those two years also happen to coincide with two of Andre Reed’s four 1,000 yard seasons. During his 4 seasons with the Bills, Lofton averaged 18.4 yards a catch. Think about that? 18.4 YARDS?! He also had 21 touchdowns during that period of time and was a key cog in the Bills No-Huddle attack. Hell, people always talk about how the No-huddle offense started slowing down when the offensive line fell apart during free agency, but you could make the case that James Lofton not being Kelly’s 2nd option had an impact. Kelly never could find the deep threat that Lofton possessed. Plus, when Lofton retired, he had the most receiving yards in NFL history and now he’s a Hall of Famer. Yes, four seasons isn’t a whole lot, but if the Washington Redskins can have a statue of Bruce Smith outside of their stadium, we can put #80′s name on the WOF.
7) Ted Washington: When you think of the Super Bowl teams for the Bills, for the most part, you think the No-Huddle offense and rightfully so. You think of how the team scored 51 points against the Raiders, not how they kept the Silver & Black out of the end zone. Anyways, I always thought the offense played exceptionally well, while the defense could have been better as a unit. From 1990-1993, the defense was ranked 8th, 27th, 12th and 27th. Not exactly consistent numbers. Now, I wrote a few months back that I felt the Wade Phillips’ defense was much better. If Wade was the DC during the early 90s, I think things would have turned out differently, if you get my drift. Now, if there was one guy I’d have loved to take off those teams and put them on the Super Bowl teams, it’s Ted Washington. No offense to Jeff Wright, but Ted would have ate him and his mullet. During the Mt. Washington years, the Bills defense ranked as followed: 13th, 9th, 9th, 6th, 1st and 3rd. Even though the numbers were consistent, Washington’s teammates were changing. Bennett, Spielman and Paup all spent a few years with Ted and when they were put to pasture, they were replaced by Sam Cowart, Gabe Northern and John Holecek. The only other guy on defense that had an impact over that time was Bruce Smith, but his sack total started to go down. Washington was also voted to the pro bowl three times during his 6 years with the Bills.
6) Lou Saban: Obviously, I never grew up watching Saban coach the Bills. He’s related to Nick Saban and he’s the only coach in Bills history with a legit championship, albeit, a AFL championship (twice). Now some Bills historians have argued that Saban is the best coach in Bills history. He’s 2nd in wins and he obviously didn’t have the same amount of talent as Marv Levy did. However, the biggest obstacle keeping him off the wall is that he quit on Ralph Wilson twice. Once in the 60′s and once in the 70′s. Now, I know some might say that it’s a joke that Wilson hasn’t put his name on the WOF yet, but I think that’s a little BS. Look, if a coach this day and age quit twice on your team, especially with the Bills, in a cynic sports world, the fans would be going crazy about it. Hell, after rushing for 1,200 yards, Willis McGahee said he didn’t like the night clubs in Buffalo, and we wanted to jettison his ass to the CFL. It’s easy to look back on history and be like, “Oh, just let him in.” Sorry, but most of us didn’t live through those years. This is why he’s so low on this list.
5) Ruben Brown: If you look up Ruben Brown’s stats, you’d think he’s a shoe-in for the WOF with his 9-pro bowl selections. However, we all know that the Pro Bowl is equivalent to a popularity contest. I remember when Ruben played, people would get on him all the time because he always seemed to have one holding penalty against him per game. I just remember being at Bills games, and whenever a flag was thrown for holding, the crowd would yell in unison: RUBEN!!! He also never seemed to be the type of guard that could make his teammates better. Normally, when you have an all-pro on your line, the guy would be able to be that anchor, in which it wouldn’t matter who was playing next to them. He would just always make the line play better. I never got that sense with Brown. The Bills offensive line always seemed to underachieve in the years he was here. From Glen Parker to Corbin Lacina to Mike Williams, every year, you could set your watch to people complaining about the line. So, was Ruben just surrounded by garbage or was he just overrated? It’s hard to tell. However, 9-pro bowls is pretty impressive.
4) Cookie Gilchrest: Larry Felsar, who covered the Bills when they were playing at the Rock Pile, has always claimed that Cookie Gilchrest was pound for pound, the greatest NFL player he had ever seen. EVER! This is a columnist who had been to like the first 40 Super Bowls. If you look at Cookie’s body of work, he only played three seasons with the Bills, but he scored 30 touchdowns and was named AFL player of the year. He also helped guide the Bills to an AFL Championship, showcasing his talent as being a powerful runner, with breakaway speed. Some called him the AFL’s Jim Brown. Hell, the guy was a kicker, too! Unfortunately for Cookie, he was a bit of a headcase. He was always at odds with the Bills, as he felt that they had severely underpaid him. After his 3rd season with the Bills, which took place after they won a championship, the team traded him to Denver. After Gilchrist retired, the Bills tried getting him on the WOF, but he refused to attend the ceremony unless he was paid. Ralph Wilson said that he wanted to enshrine Cookie, but he was always worried that he just wouldn’t show up. Now that Cookie has passed away, you can only assume that the franchise will try and get him on the WOF. Maybe Cookie should be higher on the list, but only 3 years with the Bills? Eh. I don’t know. That doesn’t seem like a lot of time with one team, does it? That’s why he’s 4th.
3) Cornelius Bennett: I’ve stated a couple of times on twitter and even in TBN football chats that I’m surprised that Cornelius Bennett isn’t on the Wall of Fame. Now, I’ve voiced my displeasure to Jerry Sullivan about Bennett not being on the Wall, and he always points to some arrest he had in 1998, which happened 3 years after he played his final season in Buffalo. Now, there are a couple of things that I want to point out about that reasoning:
A) I always thought that when a player gets inducted into the HOF, off the field exploits are off limits, and they don’t have any thing to do with getting in. If this is the case, why is it different when it comes to having your name on the WOF?
B) Um, OJ Simpson is still on the Wall of Fame and his run-ins with the law came well after his playing days in Buffalo (Like Bennett).
C) I think the reason why Bennett isn’t on the Wall has to do with him being kind of a d#$k to the local media during his playing days (Ask Sully). Keep in mind, some members of the media have a say as to who goes on the WOF. If Bennett was a nice guy, he’d be on the Wall of Fame.
Here’s the deal on Bennett, I think he’s one of the most underrated players from the Super Bowl era for the Bills. Like Talley, Bennett was a diverse player, who could do it all, but only better than Talley could. For his career, Bennett had 71.5 sacks, made the pro bowl five times (which happens to be more than Jim Kelly, and tied with Thurman Thomas for appearances), and played in five Super Bowls (4 with the Bills and 1 with the Falcons). I have kind of a soft spot for Bennett because I think he had one of the greatest years ever for a Bills defensive player. In 1991, the Bills were snake-bitten with the injury bug on defense. Bruce Smith only played a handful of games and wasn’t at a 100% during the year. Jeff Wright was also knocked out of the line-up for 8 weeks. With injuries along the front line, Bennett turned up his game. On the season, he had 9 sacks to go along with 109 tackles. I know the stats don’t look that impressive, but Marv Levy once said that Bennett’s 1991 season was one of the greatest he had ever seen by a defensive player.
2) Eric Moulds: I honestly could make the case that at his prime, Eric Moulds was a better wide receiver than Andre Reed. Here are a couple of factors: His yardage total for his best 3 seasons (98′, 00′, 02′) surpassed that of Andre Reed’s totals. His 94 catches in 2000 and 100 catches in 2002, are better than Andre’s best two seasons. Now, I know some will say that both eras were different, as Moulds played during the apex of a pass happy league, while Reed was just leaving it when things got real good. However, eras withstanding, Moulds best three seasons came with Doug Flutie, Rob Johnson and Drew Bledsoe throwing him the football. Not exactly Jim Kelly for 10 years there. He also played with 8 different starting QBs, 3 of them who never started a NFL game (Losman, Todd Collins and Alex Van Pelt), a QB who would always get hurt (Rob Johnson), and like 2 or 3 QB controversies. The longest he played under one QB was Drew Bledsoe, and that QB/WR combo was together for only three seasons. However, even though his QBs were mediocre, Moulds still had the stats to back his game up. This is something that Lee Evans can’t say. If Moulds had played with Peyton Manning, he’d be in the top five in every statistical category for wideouts. Bank on it! Back to the Reed comparison, besides the difference in quarterbacks, Moulds never had near the same supporting cast as Reed did. Thurman Thomas will never get confused with Jonathan Linton or Antowain Smith. Will Wolford and Howard Ballard won’t get confused with Mike Williams and John Fina. To me, Moulds is the best player the Bills have had in the last 15 years.
1) Bill Polian: Yes, if we had a flying Delorean, we all know that we would go back in time and stop Ralph Wilson from firing Bill Polian. We’d do anything, from punching Ralph in the face (Ala Biff) to kissing our own damn mom (Marty McFly smooching with Loraine McFly). We all know the rumors about what happened. Polian had a hot temper and didn’t see eye to eye with the Bills organization. The big rumor seems to be that he didn’t get along with Ralph’s daughter. I mean, she did help draft Carlton Bailey, so obviously, Ralph had no other choice (sarcasm). Anyways, we all know that Polian was one of the architects to go along with John Butler, AJ Smith and Buddy Nix, who created the Bills dynasty. Talk about an all-star level front office. From the Bennett trade to the drafting of Thurman Thomas to being a part of the front office that drafted Bruce Smith and Andre Reed, Polian should be recognized for his efforts. No offense to John Butler, but when he took over the franchise, he never really drafted any impact players besides Ruben Brown and Sam Cowart. From 93-99, the core of this football team were still the players who Polian brought in. Polian will go down as the best GM in Bills history and without him, the Bills aren’t the AFC team of the 90′s.
Final thought: Look, some of these players will more than likely have their place on the WOF (Moulds, Brown and rumor has it, Polian was even mentioned by Ralph). The Bills only allow 1 enshrinement per year and the earliest you can get on the wall is five years after you retire. So, if my math doesn’t fail me, Brown and Moulds will duke it out in 2012. Cookie might get on the WOF, since the Bills don’t have to worry about him no-showing the ceremony, because, you know, he’s passed on. However, I think the ship has sailed on #97, #80 (Lofton) and Saban.
I think the point in this article is that these guys deserve to be on the WOF over Hansen. Hell, I’m not so sure he should even be on it. Did you ever walk away after watching the Bills in the 90′s and say, “Man, thank God we have Phil Hansen?” I sure as hell didn’t. At times, he wasn’t even the 2nd best linemen (Ted Washington and Bruce Smith were better). Hell, Bryce Paup, Sam Cowart, Chris Spielman, Daryl Talley, Cornelius Bennett and Henry Jones were better. What are you going to tell me? That he played hard every down? Wow! Good for him and you know what the results were? Not a whole lot. Bruce Smith made that guy. If you want to award him for longevity, fine. However, 10 years from now, are we going to put Chris Kelsay and Terrence McGee up? It’s the Wall of Fame. It’s suppose to be a 2-3 steps below the HOF. Sorry, but Phil Hansen and HOF should never be uttered.
I don’t know, even if these guys all got on the WOF, I still don’t think Hansen belongs. I watched every single Bills game of the 90′s. Hansen got his 7-8 sacks a year, but he really didn’t do much else. The guy had ZERO pro bowls. None. Zip. He wasn’t even talked about in the voting process. He only had 10 sacks once during his career.
Look, I know I must sound like I despise Phil Hansen, but I don’t. I just don’t think he should get on the WOF. Yes, being 3rd all-time in sacks sounds impressive, but when you factor in that sacks weren’t kept as a stat for the first 20+ years of the franchise, and if Bryce Paup, Marcellus Wiley and Cornelius Bennett played 10 years with the Bills, they would have easily surpassed his sack total. Hansen’s biggest accomplishment is his longevity, and I just don’t think that should be enough to get on the WOF.