AFC East: Jack Kemp

Name top five QBs for each AFC East team

June, 10, 2011
Football Outsiders senior writer Mike Tanier has been charting the top five quarterbacks of every NFL team. In his latest column, he broke down the AFC East's best. You should click on the links to read Tanier's reasoning and interesting stats on each selection.

A first-round pick from the famed 1983 draft class appears on every list.

Buffalo Bills
  1. Jim Kelly
  2. Joe Ferguson
  3. Jack Kemp
  4. Drew Bledsoe
  5. Doug Flutie

Quick take: It's strange to see Flutie on the Bills' all-time list. When I arrived in Western New York 11 years ago, the area was hotly divided over him and Rob Johnson. Some fans wanted Flutie to just go away. But I agree with the list and, as Tanier, points out in his piece, this goes to show how few great quarterbacks there've been over the years.

Miami Dolphins
  1. Dan Marino
  2. Bob Griese
  3. Jay Fiedler
  4. Don Strock
  5. Earl Morrall

Quick take: The Dolphins have a two Hall of Famers in their history, but you can see how much trouble they've had finding a replacement for Marino when you consider their fourth- and fifth-best quarterbacks are known for being quality backups. Granted, Morrall came off the sideline to help maintain the undefeated 1972 season. But he started 14 times over five seasons with Miami and just 40 percent of his career games.

New England Patriots
  1. Tom Brady
  2. Drew Bledsoe
  3. Babe Parilli
  4. Steve Grogan
  5. Tony Eason

Quick take: This is the only AFC East team with an active quarterback on the list. The rundown couldn't be more straightforward to me. Maybe you could flip Grogan and Parilli because of longevity and the neck roll.

New York Jets (from a previous Football Outsiders column)
  1. Joe Namath
  2. Chad Pennington
  3. Ken O'Brien
  4. Vinny Testaverde
  5. Richard Todd

Quick take: Tanier notes that if you wanted to rank Sanchez fourth right now, then he wouldn't argue. Neither would I, although I'd be more comfortable with Sanchez replacing Todd on this list. Tanier also claims if Pennington had avoided one of his lost seasons, he might be the greatest quarterback in Jets history -- from a statistical standpoint.

Cookie Gilchrist rumbled right until the end

January, 10, 2011
For those of you unfamiliar with what Cookie Gilchrist was all about, Paul Maguire has a story to share.

It was December 1964. While snow was being cleared from Fenway Park's field, the Buffalo Bills waited anxiously in a spartan locker room for their game against the Boston Patriots to start. They normally would've whiled away this time with card games or other diversions to ease the mood. Not on that day.

The Bills had to win to host the AFL Championship game six days later. The atmosphere was tense, the room quiet.

"Cookie stood up," Maguire recalled, "and said 'I'm going to tell you something. If we don't win this game, I'm going to beat the s--- out of everybody in this locker room.' "

Just then, Bills head coach Lou Saban and assistants Joe Collier, Jerry Smith and John Mazur unwittingly walked into their star fullback's escalating fury.

[+] EnlargeGilchrist
AP PhotoFormer Buffalo Bills star Carlton Chester "Cookie" Gilchrist died Monday morning in Pittsburgh. He was 75.
Maguire continued: "Cookie pointed and said, 'And I'm going to start with you, Coach. I'm going to kick your ass first.' I just sat back in my locker. I knew he meant it."

On the first play of the game, Gilchrist took a handoff from Jack Kemp and trucked helpless Patriots safety Chuck Shonta.

"Cookie ran right over his ass," said Maguire, the Bills' popular linebacker and punter. "Then he went up to Bob Dee, who was the defensive end, and says 'You're next.' Kemp came over the sideline and said 'We've got to get him out of there. He's going to kill somebody.' "

The Bills pummeled the Patriots and then shocked the San Diego Chargers to win their first of back-to-back AFL titles.

"He had so much character he brought out the best in all of us," Bills tight end Charley Ferguson said. "If there's ever such a thing as 110 percent, that's what you got from Cookie. There was no such thing as not being ready."

Carlton Chester "Cookie" Gilchrist died Monday morning in a Pittsburgh assisted living facility.

Cancer finally caught him at 75 years old, but not before he broke another tackle.

Gilchrist's hospice nurse found him dead in a chair Saturday. She phoned his great nephew with the somber news. Thomas Gilchrist arrived and saw his uncle slumped over. Nurses prepared Cookie's bed for him to be laid down one last time. Thomas carried his uncle's 140-pound body from the chair.

And then Cookie woke up.

"He was dead in the chair," Thomas Gilchrist said. "And 30 minutes later he was drinking a root beer with me."

Cookie Gilchrist's family and teammates were laughing at the thought Monday. It was symbolic of how he was: rugged, stubborn and usually unbeatable.

Gilchrist often is overlooked among the game's great running backs because his career was brief and his relationships strained.

Ferguson, who also played with Jim Brown and O.J. Simpson, called Gilchrist "one of the greatest backs to ever play the game."

"These young guys didn't have more of an opportunity to learn about Cookie and see him in action," Ferguson said while mourning at former Bills teammate Booker Edgerson's home in suburban Buffalo. "They may have heard something, may have heard very little, but if they ever had that kind of opportunity it would have meant something to them."

Gilchrist went straight from Har-Brack High School in the Pittsburgh area to the Canadian Football League, where he starred for six years. He played fullback, linebacker and kicked field goals for Hamilton, Saskatchewan and Toronto before he returned stateside with Buffalo.

He played only six seasons in the AFL, but they were brilliant. He's the fullback on the all-time AFL team. In 1962, he became the first AFL back to rush for more than 1,000 yards and also kicked eight field goals and 14 extra points for Buffalo. In each of his first four seasons, he was an All-Star and led the league in rushing touchdowns.

He spent three years with the Bills and one with the Miami Dolphins sandwiched between year-long stays with the Denver Broncos.

"He was so impressive," Maguire said. "He was the biggest fullback in the game and could run and block. When he first came to the Bills he was the wedge buster.

"On the football field, he was one of the nastiest sons a bitches I ever met in my life. There was absolutely no fear in that man."

Gilchrist's 31 rushing touchdowns (in just three seasons) still rank third in Buffalo behind only Simpson and Thurman Thomas. Gilchrist set single-game records with 243 yards and five touchdowns against the New York Jets in 1963.

Gilchrist was a battering ram on the field, but so headstrong that he gave coaches and administrators headaches.

He engaged in several disputes with Saban and Bills owner Ralph Wilson. One of the pivotal moments came in Buffalo's first game against Boston in 1964, a War Memorial Stadium shootout between Kemp and Babe Parilli that didn't involve much running.

"The offense got the ball and he didn't go into the game," former Bills tight end Ernie Warlick recalled. "Saban asked 'Hey, Cookie, why aren't you out there?' He said 'They're not giving me the ball, so why the hell should I play?' So he sat on the bench and told his backup [Willie Ross] to go in."

The Bills placed Gilchrist on waivers after that episode, but Kemp brokered a reconciliation. The club pulled him back for the rest of the campaign. The Bills traded him to Denver in the offseason for Billy Joe.

"He jumped off the curb every once in a while," Warlick said, "but he was with them team almost 100 percent."

Gilchrist was among a group of black players who boycotted the AFL All-Star game over racist treatment in New Orleans. The game was moved to Houston.

He turned down induction into the CFL Hall of Fame, citing bigotry.

"He was very outspoken," said Edgerson, a Bills cornerback for eight seasons. "He understood the economics and the monetary value of a player. He expressed himself, and that got him in trouble a lot.

"But the things he did back in the 1960s was mild compared to what these guys do today. There is no way in the world he would be considered a bad boy today."

The Bills waived Gilchrist during the 1964 season because of his contract demands.

"I wanted a percentage of the hot dog sales, the popcorn, the parking and the ticket sales," Gilchrist said in a 2007 interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "[Saban] said that would make me part owner of the team. I was a marked man after that."

Those familiar with the selection process claim Wilson has long refused to consider Gilchrist for the team's Wall of Fame. Gilchrist and Wilson didn't mend their fractured relationship until a phone conversation last week, Thomas Gilchrist said.

Wilson also had a lifelong feud with Saban, the only coach to win a championship for Buffalo, let alone two. Saban, who died in March 2009, isn't on the Wall of Fame either.

"It's very sad that it couldn't be patched sooner," said Edgerson, added to the Wall of Fame in October. "It doesn't make any difference whose fault it is, or who didn't come to the table. Obviously, it was bad blood because they have not been put up on the Wall, and everybody believes that they should have been regardless."

Said Warlick: "It is a shame that those two guys are not even considered to go on the Wall. It's really too bad because they both should be there."

What makes Gilchrist's absence on the Wall of Fame even more disappointing is that players such as him -- stars that burned brightly but briefly -- aren't properly appreciated, particularly by younger generations.

Those who watched Gilchrist play know how special he was.

"Anybody from that era would never forget him," Maguire said. "He was that kind of a guy. When you went on the field with him, you never even doubted that you were going to win because he wouldn't let you think any other way."

Gilchrist is survived by sons Jeffrey and Scott and daughter Christina Gilchrist and two grandchildren.

Calling hours will be held Wednesday at Ross G. Walker Funeral home in New Kensington, Pa. Funeral services will be Thursday.

Thomas Gilchrist asked that any regards be sent to 322 Mall Blvd. Suite 164, Monroeville, Pa. 15146.

Nobody carries a team like Brady or The Bomber

August, 13, 2009
Posted by's Tim Graham

When it comes to carrying a team, Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of the past 35 years.

So says research done by Mark Wald of the underrated and often fascinating

Because a high number of pass attempts generally equates to a defeat, Wald wanted to ascertain which quarterbacks have had the greatest success when throwing a lot. He ran the stats from 1960 through 2008, qualifying a game in which a quarterback was asked to "carry the team" as 30 or more passes pre-1978 and 40 or more passes from 1978 on.

Wald's data showed Daryle Lamonica was worthy of his nickname, The Mad Bomber.

Lamonica ranked first with a .703 winning percentage when asked to carry his team. Brady was second at .680. Bart Starr and Bill Nelsen were tied for third at .625.

Big deal, you say?

Then consider this: The average winning percentage is .307 for all quarterbacks in "carry the team" qualifying games.

Some other AFC East quarterbacks of note:

12. Jack Kemp, .490.
14. Dan Marino, .478.
16. Al Dorow, .462.

Wald also listed the quarterbacks with the worst records when asked to carry his team. Here are the quarterbacks with AFC East backgrounds:

2. Joey Harrington, .048.
6. Doug Flutie, .100.
9. Daunte Culpepper, .118.
10t. Steve Grogan, .125.
16. Scott Mitchell, .158.
17t. Gus Frerotte, .176.
17t. Neil O'Donnell, Jets, .176.

Wilson tabs Berman to introduce him in Canton

June, 4, 2009
Posted by's Tim Graham

Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson has chosen ESPN's Chris Berman to present him for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Berman will introduce Wilson during ceremonies Aug. 8 in Fawcett Stadium. Former Bills defensive end Bruce Smith, also in this year's class, recently revealed he will have his old defensive coordinator, Ted Cottrell, introduce him for induction.

Wilson's choice will be well-received in Buffalo, but probably wouldn't be the same had he been inducted sooner. He was particularly fond of local boy and "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert. The Bills' most famous fan died in June 2008.

Legendary Bills quarterback and U.S. congressman Jack Kemp died last month. A few days earlier, Wilson's daughter passed away. Linda Bogdan was the NFL's only active female scout.

Wilson explained his choice in a press release:

"Chris has been a friend of mine for many years and I thought he would be a great person to introduce me if he would do so. He acknowledged that he would, and I thank him very much, and he will be in Canton with me. Chris really embodies the Bills fans, who have played such an important role in my career in professional football. Professional football is all about the fans and having Chris as my presenter follows that thought."

Berman has endeared himself to Bills loyalists over the years. He would pick their team to win the Super Bowl every preseason. "Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills" is one of his popular sayings. Berman used to quote an anonymous cab driver (the late general manager John Butler) who would correctly identify the Bills' first-round draft choice before it was made.

Berman, the host of "Sunday NFL Countdown" and "Monday NFL Countdown," also released a statement.

"Fifty years in sports, there's only one constant: Ralph Wilson is the owner of the Buffalo Bills. What Mr. Wilson has done for pro football and for the city of Buffalo and Western New York, it's hard to put into words. He remains in it for the same reasons he got into it in 1959: He loves the game of football, and that's apparent in everything he does. It will be an honor to have a bird's eye view to watch him be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, especially this year, in the 50th year of the old American Football League. He's a man I admire very much and I'm honored to just be there."

New arrests prolong Buffalo's grueling offseason

May, 15, 2009
Posted by's Tim Graham

Pro Football Hall of Fame induction weekend can't get here fast enough for the Buffalo Bills.

They could use a jolt of pride.

Embarrassing news keeps piling up for the club. Two more arrests were made Friday.

All-time sacks leader Bruce Smith, who'll be inducted into the Hall of Fame along with owner Ralph Wilson on Aug. 8, was arrested for drunken driving for a third time.

An Associated Press report stated Virginia Beach police stopped Smith for excessive speed. He was charged with speeding, driving under the influence and refusing to take a breath test.

Fullback Corey McIntyre was arrested for indecent exposure after a weeks-long investigation. Rather than try to describe what he was doing, you can see how the Palm Beach Post and the Treasure Coast Newspapers covered it.

McIntyre's agent, Brett Tessler, refuted the allegations.

"Corey McIntyre is one of the highest character people around and the last guy who would do what he is being accused of," Tessler said in a statement. "We look forward to proving that these embarrassing accusations are false and that Corey is guilty of absolutely nothing."

Whether McIntrye or Smith are guilty of these charges isn't the point of this post. It's that the Bills' image has taken a colossal pummeling.

It's only May, but 2009 already has been a trying year with the deaths of AFL legends Lou Saban and Jack Kemp and Wilson's daughter, Linda Bogdan, a team vice president and the assistant director of college and pro scouting.

The Bills drew the ire of fans by retaining head coach Dick Jauron after three straight 7-9 seasons and no playoffs for nine years running. They also made controversial transactions in acquiring star receiver Terrell Owens and trading Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters.

But the police-blotter activity has been absurd.

McIntrye is the fourth member of the roster to have been arrested already this year.

Cleveland police used a Taser to subdue Bills safety Donte Whitner, who was arrested for aggravated disorderly conduct and resisting arrest last month for his role in what was described as "a near riot."

The NFL suspended Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch three games for two transgressions in a nine-month span. He was the driver in a hit-and-run incident last summer in Buffalo but escaped with a traffic ticket.

Lynch's latest incident was a Feb. 11 arrest in Culver City, Calif. He was charged with carrying a concealed, loaded and unregistered 9-mm handgun. He pleaded guilty to one of the misdemeanor charges in exchange for having the other two dropped. He was sentenced to three years' probation and 80 hours of community service.

Safety Ko Simpson was arrested for disorderly conduct at 2 a.m. ET on New Year's Day outside a bar in his hometown of Rock Hill, S.C.

Police were in the process of arresting two of Simpson's friends for disorderly conduct, while he kept yelling, "I'm Ko Simpson with the Buffalo Bills. I am worth millions!" Police claim they asked Simpson to leave the scene several times, but he kept screaming.

Around the AFC East: Jets interested in Pacman?

May, 10, 2009
Posted by's Tim Graham

New York Jets

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

Around the AFC East: Eli offers advice to Sanchez

May, 9, 2009
Posted by's Tim Graham

New York Jets

Buffalo Bills

  • Buffalo News reporter Jerry Zremski writes Jack Kemp's memorial service "was a vast coming together of Kemp admirers ranging from tourists to the Washington power set of the 1980s and 1990s."
  • Sports Illustrated's Don Banks predicts the Bills will be one of six new playoff teams in 2009.

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

Around the AFC East: Taylor, Harrison in limbo

May, 6, 2009
Posted by's Tim Graham

New England Patriots

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

Around the AFC East: Fred Taylor hurt again

May, 5, 2009
Posted by's Tim Graham

New England Patriots

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

Kemp was the mouse that roared

May, 3, 2009
As a rookie linebacker at Los Angeles Chargers training camp in 1960, Paul Maguire assumed he would be in for all sorts of unusual experiences.

One of the first times Maguire crouched into his stance, he couldn't believe his ears.

"He was calling signals and his voice was so high I thought 'This has got to be a joke.' And then I saw him throw," said Maguire, whose voice turned into a low, rumbling chuckle. "I said 'His voice can be as high as he wants it to be.' "
Lou Witt/Getty Images
Buffalo quarterback Jack Kemp, who led the Bills to two AFL championships, died on Saturday.

Maguire was referring to Jack Kemp, a vagabond quarterback who'd been cut by four NFL teams and failed to stick with the Canadian Football League, but whose determination and screaming ambition would make him one of America's strongest voices.

"Whatever he decided he was going to do was done," Maguire said.

After years of taxi squads and pink slips, Kemp proved himself a winner and a leader. He guided the Buffalo Bills to AFL championships in 1964 and 1965 and became one our nation's most influential Republicans. He served nine terms in Congress, was a member of George H.W. Bush's cabinet and was a vice-presidential candidate.

Kemp died Saturday at his home in Bethesda, Md. He was 73.

"He was a terrific guy, a special friend, a special person," said Kemp's roommate at Occidental College, former NFL coach Jim Mora. "I'm pretty saddened by this."

Kemp's office released a statement in January that confirmed Kemp had cancer. Those close to him knew it was terminal.

A couple weeks ago, Mora and another Occidental roommate, NFL umpire Ron Botchan, dropped by for a weekend visit to see their old college buddy.

"It was tough because he was struggling," Mora said by phone Sunday from Palm Desert, Calif. "It wasn't the Jack that I was used to, outgoing, take charge, center of attention, dominate the conversation. That's how Jack was.

"When we saw him, he was very quiet. He couldn't talk well because he'd had radiation that affected his vocal cords. It was almost a whisper when he talked."

(Read full post)

Jack Kemp: 1935-2009

May, 3, 2009
Posted by's Tim Graham

A roundup of obituaries and tributes for former Buffalo Bills quarterback, congressman and vice-presidential nominee Jack Kemp, who died Saturday at 73:

Bills Rushmore: Kelly, Smith, Simpson, Levy

February, 16, 2009

Posted by'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:

  1. Jim Kelly
  2. Bruce Smith
  3. Marv Levy
  4. O.J. Simpson
  5. Thurman Thomas
  6. Ralph Wilson
  7. Jack Kemp
  8. Bill Polian
  9. Joe DeLamielleure
  10. 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.

Vote for your Bills Mount Rushmore

February, 3, 2009
Posted by's Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills are on a nice run when it comes to accumulating Pro Football Hall of Famers in recent years.

Let's chisel out a spot for the best of the best.

ESPN has mounted an ambitious campaign to determine the sports Mount Rushmore for all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

After 10,000 submissions from readers, each Rushmore has been determined. The list will be narrowed to the top five before the quintessential quartet is chosen. You can see the complete list and vote here.

To play off that theme, I'm asking visitors to the AFC East blog to name their favorite team's Mount Rushmore.

We're looking for the four legends you believe best symbolize the Bills.

My choices would be Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith, Marv Levy and O.J. Simpson. I know. Insert your carving joke here.

I might have added Steve Tasker or Andre Reed instead of The Juice, but that would mean the Bills Mount Rushmore would all come from the same team, and that's kind of sad. There should be different eras to honor.

I also thought about going with an all-quarterback foursome of Kelly, Joe Ferguson, Jack Kemp and ... well, that's where I ran into trouble. Doug Flutie?

No matter. I want to know what you think. Leave your suggestions in the comments section below or drop a note into my AFC East mailbag.

I'll tabulate the results and deliver your Bills Mount Rushmore on Feb. 16, the scheduled date when will announce the top five finalists in the big poll.

Around the AFC East: Woe is Trent Edwards

January, 9, 2009
Posted by's Tim Graham

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Bills deactivated their 12th Man

December, 8, 2008
Posted by's Tim Graham

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."