Important Dates in Bills history presented by M&T Bank helps fans recognize what’s important. In the NFL, maintaining a tough defense is important, and on Jan. 9, 1991 Buffalo Bills defensive end Bruce Smith was awarded for his dominant defensive efforts.
Smith, who spent his collegiate days at Virginia Tech, was the No.1 overall draft pick to the Bills in 1985 and quickly became a staple on defense. In 1990, the defensive end produced a franchise record 19 sacks on the season and was named the Associated Press’ NFL Defensive Player of the Year. A dynamic pass rusher, Smith tied a team record when he tacked on four sacks in a single game on Dec. 9, 1990 against the Indianapolis Colts. This record was unchallenged until Sept. 15, 2013, when defensive end Mario Williams had 4.5 sacks against the Carolina Panthers.
After finishing the 1990 regular season with a 13-3 record, the Bills went on to win the AFC Championship and appear in Super Bowl XXV—where Smith is credited with one sack and a safety. Smith’s outstanding performance in 1990 earned him additional recognition as the AFC Defensive Player of the Year by the United Press International and National Sports Daily’s NFL MVP. Smith continued to produce a highly impressive football resume while playing for Hall of Fame Head Coach Marv Levy and alongside several Hall of Fame members including, quarterback Jim Kelly, running back Thurman Thomas and wide receiver Andre Reed.
A leader on defense, Smith was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year for a second time in 1996. During his tenure in the NFL, Smith accumulated 171 sacks with the Bills and another 39 with the Redskins. After earning Pro Bowl honors 11 times in Buffalo, Smith solidified his place in the record books, and was inducted to the Wall of Fame in 2008 and to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.