Buffalo Bills: 30 greatest players in franchise history

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Bruce Smith, Buffalo Bills
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16. . Defensive End. 1985-99. Bruce Smith. 1. player

I’m sure there were probably some folks out there hoping to see Jim Kelly atop this list. It’s an understandable and appreciated sentiment, especially considering everything he’s been through during his post-football life. However, it was always going to be Bruce Smith at No. 1.

One of the greatest defensive ends of all-time, Smith was the prototypical edge rusher before the position was at such a premium. An instinctive hunter of quarterbacks, he simply lived in opposing backfields with his innate ability to beat blockers and rack up sacks.

There’s no further evidence of this needed beyond the fact that he’s the NFL’s all-time leader in sacks. His 200 quarterback takedowns (171 with Buffalo) barely inched out Reggie White, who finished his own legendary career with 198 sacks. It was a true test of will, taking Smith 19 seasons to achieve.

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During his 15 seasons with the Bills, Smith notched double-digit sacks in all but three. He was named to 11 Pro Bowls and received All-Pro honors on 10 different occasions. His face is now immortalized in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, where it rightfully belongs. Not only was he one of the best defenders to ever play the game, but he was the best Bills player of all-time.