AFC East: Billy Shaw
CANTON, Ohio -- Entering the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999 with Lawrence Taylor, Eric Dickerson and Ozzie Newsome, Billy Shaw wasn't nearly the star of his induction class.
But he made the most indelible mark that year.
This is the 10-year anniversary of Shaw's enshrinement. At a casual media gathering at the McKinley Grand Hotel, the legendary Buffalo Bills guard retold the story of how he prompted the "Billy Shaw Rule" for future induction ceremonies.
"I'm the guy that they named the Billy Shaw Rule after when a new guy gets inducted because in my speech I forgot my wife," Shaw said. "I had to go get on my hands and knees on the podium to apologize to her."
Shaw did just that, quite literally.
"Now, when they are giving the new class their instructions, they say 'Certainly, in your acceptance speech, don't forget your family and, more importantly, your wife or significant other,'" Shaw said.
Shaw, who played nine years for the Bills and was a driving force to them winning back-to-back AFL titles, thanked just about everybody you could imagine and then walked away from the lectern to applause and posed for some photos with his bust.
"My daughter, sitting on the front row, gave me this sign," Shaw said before re-enacting the throat-slash gesture Cindy Shaw gave him.
"When she did that, I knew that I had screwed up royally. And she [mouthed] 'Forgot mom.' During the intermission I went to the front of the stage and I got my knees and did this to her."
Shaw mimicked a reverential bow, theatrically raising and lowering his arms in his wife's direction.
"Eric saved my life because I spoke before he did," Shaw said. "He went up there and made amends for me."
Shaw's groveling and Dickerson's followup request for forgiveness must have worked. Billy and Patsy Shaw recently celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary.
Two more Buffalo Bills will enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend.
Defensive end Bruce Smith and owner Ralph Wilson will join an honor roll that already includes Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, James Lofton, O.J. Simpson, Joe DeLamielleure, Billy Shaw and Marv Levy.
There has been plenty of debate about a couple of other Bills -- Andre Reed and Steve Tasker -- who might deserve inclusion.
Pod Vader (I can't believe I just typed that) asserts another name should be considered: Doug Flutie.
That's right, Bills fans. One of the most polarizing players in team history was discussed for a bust in Canton, Ohio, on ESPN's "Football Today" podcast Wednesday.
Pod Vader explains his nomination by stating it's called the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Flutie's gaudy USFL and CFL numbers should be considered. And then there was Flutie's dropkick for the New England Patriots.
Podcast host Jeremy Green had fellow Scouts Inc. analyst Matt Williamson and NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas propose nominees for future Hall of Fame classes. Other names broached: Cris Carter, Dermontti Dawson and Rickey Jackson.
Kelly won't make the call whether head coach Dick Jauron will stay or go. But after three straight 7-9 seasons under Jauron and no playoffs for nine years running, Kelly sees this as a make-or-break year for the Bills' coaching staff.
Kelly was a guest Friday morning on "The Opening Drive," a Sirius NFL Radio show hosted by Randy Cross. It was Kelly's turn to appear on a series of interviews called "Countdown to Canton," in which Pro Football Hall of Famers share their thoughts at 10 a.m. each Friday.
The best exchange came when Cross asked Kelly who will have the bigger adjustment period to get used to each other: new receiver Terrell Owens or Bills fans.
"I don't know. I guess it's a little premature to answer that one, but T.O. for sure when it starts to get really cold. But you know what? People talk about how he loves to talk and everything. People say he might be a disturbance in the locker room. You know what I say? I hope he is. We haven't had anything in the locker room. When you walk into a locker room on Monday and you don't know whether your team won or lost, something's got to change.
"The good thing about this year is, with not only T.O. getting a one-year contract, but the whole Buffalo Bills coaching staff got a one-year contract [Jauron actually received a three-year extension]. ... I love Dick Jauron to death, and I like some of the guys that are over there, and hopefully they get that thing turned around and they take this team to the playoffs because I guarantee Mr. Wilson is not going to settle for anything but making the playoffs this year.
"The pressure's on. The pressure's on Dick. The pressure's on Turk Schonert, the offensive coordinator. They got the people that they need. They got some receivers. They got a couple of good running backs. That good, solid offensive line, I think, should jell this year.
"So they have no excuses. It's time to show up, or just pack your bags, and there's going to be a lot of changes."
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
After two weeks of polling, all the ballots have been counted to determine your picks for the Mount Rushmore of each AFC East team.
To play off ESPN's quest to determine the best sports Mount Rushmore from the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, I asked for your thoughts on the four legends who best symbolize the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and New York Jets.
Readers mentioned 13 Bills, the fewest among the four teams, but the final foursome was clear cut.
They are quarterback Jim Kelly, defensive end Bruce Smith, running back O.J. Simpson and head coach Marv Levy.
That Rushmore includes four Hall of Famers and matches the one I suggested. Running back Thurman Thomas was the closest to breaking into the monument, receiving one fewer vote than Levy.
Here is how the top-10 voting broke down:
- Jim Kelly
- Bruce Smith
- Marv Levy
- O.J. Simpson
- Thurman Thomas
- Ralph Wilson
- Jack Kemp
- Bill Polian
- Joe DeLamielleure
- Billy Shaw
And a few comments from those who voted:
Stein in Canandaigua, N.Y., writes: My Bills Mount Rushmore 1) Jimbo- Quite possibly the most popular Bill ever. He was the face of the franchise during his playing days, and may be once again if he has a hand in keeping the Bills in Buffalo. 2)Ralphie- You've got to give credit to the man who gave Buffalo the Bills, and who allowed us to keeep them. 3)Marv- The greatest coach in the team's history. Because of Marv the Bills franchise had the highest winning percentage of the 90's (im pretty sure. TG?) 4) BRUUUUUUUUUCE- Though Bruce may not have been the most popular Bill, he is the only player on the Bills that can be considered the greatest of all time at his position. Honorable Mention to the Juice- Clearly one of the greatest Bills of all time, but obviously can never make it to Mount Rushmore
Jay in Naples, Fla., writes: Bills fans were called out, so I am offering my Bills Mount Rushmore. Billy Shaw (G 60's), Joe DeLamielleure (G 70's), Jim Kelly(QB 90's), and Bruce Smith (DE 90's). I think Bills fans are hard pressed to create this list because those teams in the 90's are so much about team and not individual players. How do you include Kelly and not Thurman Thomas or Andre Reed? How do you include Bruce and not Darryl Talley? Also, Marv Levy is as deserving as any player. In the end I made my choices based on the blue collar work ethic of the city of Buffalo and its rich football history. AFL great Shaw, DeLamielleure part of the great Electric Company O-line, Kelly and Smith as representitives of both sides of the ball on one of the greatest teams ever assembled.
elway79798 writes: Well, Doug Flutie would be on the mt. rushmore, but Wade Phillips would sneak up in the middle of the night, and change the carving into Rob Johnson.
I know Buffalo Bills fans are about sick of the subject, but here's one last thought -- for now -- about their team's decision to sell off a significant regular-season game in December against a division rival.
Alone with my thoughts on the dark drive back to Buffalo from Toronto, where the Miami Dolphins beat the Bills 16-3 in the Rogers Centre, I mulled the soothing pregame assurance from event organizers the crowd would be fully behind the Bills.
"This will be a Bills crowd," said Adrian Montgomery, general manager for Rogers Communications and the chief organizer of the Bills in Toronto series. "I suspect there will be a number of Miami Dolphins fans. I can't estimate how many, but the Bills will have 12 men on the field."
We now know that wasn't the case. The dome was a mausoleum when the Bills made a first down or came up with a big defensive stop. The Dolphins were cheered throughout the game.
Meanwhile, back in cold, empty Ralph Wilson Stadium was a reminder of what the Bills forfeited when they sold off eight games to Rogers Communications for $78 million.
There, on the Bills' Wall of Fame, is The 12th Man. He's honored with the same prominence as Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas and Bruce Smith and Billy Shaw and Jack Kemp and Bob Kalsu and the other greats.
In essence, the Bills asked The 12th Man to sit out Sunday's game.
I can't imagine Marv Levy (also on the Wall of Fame) approaching Kelly before a December game against the Dolphins and saying, "You know, Jim, we think you should sit this one out. We're going a different direction today."