Much like the large pool of candidates for the running back position, the wide receiver list also numbers 10. Decisions on who makes the cut for the Bills 50th Season All-Time Team however, will be easier as three receivers can be chosen.
Seven of the nominees went to at least one Pro Bowl. Two are on the Bills Wall of Fame, two are members of the Bills 25th Anniversary team and one is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Remember you can register to vote for the 50th Season All-Time Team online at Buffalobills.com. The full roster will be announced on April 25.
Here’s a brief preview of the men who are largely responsible for some of the franchise’s most artistic play.
Don Beebe (1989-1994)
One of Buffalo’s famous small school finds, Beebe was the third piece to the Bills dynamic K-Gun passing game of the early 90’s. Though his statistics never matched those of Andre Reed or James Lofton, Beebe made big plays as evidenced by his 15.5 receiving average in his six seasons with Buffalo, tied for fifth best in team history.
The former third-round pick also is tied with Jerry Butler for the Bills record for most touchdown receptions in a game with four.
Beebe’s most memorable game is probably Super Bowl XXVII and not because of his 40-yard touchdown reception, but because of the way he ran down Dallas defensive lineman Leon Lett despite being down 52-17 on the scoreboard and 20 yards downfield as the play unfolded.
Lett had scooped up Buffalo’s Super Bowl record ninth turnover and was headed for the end zone, but Beebe sprinted more than half the field to swat the ball out of Lett’s hands at the one-yard line. Some refer to that play more than any other in describing the resiliency of the early 90’s Bills.
Jerry Butler (1979-1986)
Arguably one of Buffalo’s most gifted athletes, Butler brought a world of speed to the Bills receiving corps. The former first-round pick (5th overall) added a true deep threat to Buffalo’s attack averaging 15.5 yards per reception in his Bills career.
Butler’s best season was 1980 when he posted a career-high 57 catches for 832 yards and six touchdowns earning AFC Pro Bowl honors.
His career was tragically cut short when a severe knee injury was followed by a broken leg.
Butler’s finest moment came in just his fourth NFL game when on Sept. 23, 1979 the rookie scored four touchdowns including back-to-back scoring plays of 75 and 74-yards in a 46-31 Bills shootout victory over the Jets. Butler finished with 10 catches and a franchise record 255 receiving yards, which stood until 2006.
His four touchdown catches in a single game is still a team record that he shares with Don Beebe.
“He’d make five or six catches and would win the game on his last catch,” said former teammate and Hall of Fame guard Joe DeLamielleure. “He was one of the first really smooth and extremely fast guys that could run, jump and catch. Most of the guys could run, but not catch or jump and catch. He could do it all.”
Bob Chandler (1971-1979)
A member of the Bills 25th Anniversary team, Chandler was a supremely valuable possession receiver. Only Andre Reed was a more skilled wideout over the middle than Chandler. A fearless receiver willing to do the dirty work, Chandler was also an expert at toeing the sideline.
His best season came in 1976 when he had career-highs in catches (61), receiving yards (824) and touchdowns (10). Chandler’s highlight game that year was a three touchdown day in a blowout of the Kansas City Chiefs (50-17) in Week 4.
“He was the first dependable receiver I had when I first came in as a rookie,” said former teammate and Bills quarterback Joe Ferguson. “Bobby was one of those guys that would play hurt, give you all he had. He wasn’t a real fast guy, but he could read defenses and knew how to run a route and you knew he was going to be open when you needed him.”
Elbert Dubenion (1960-1968)
Nicknamed “Golden Wheels” for his trademark speed Dubenion was Buffalo’s first ever deep threat. Despite playing his last season in a Bills uniform over 40 years ago Dubenion is still third in Bills history in touchdown receptions and receiving yards and stands second in average yards per catch (18).
His best season came in Buffalo’s first AFL Championship season of 1964 when he pulled in 42 passes for an incomprehensible 1,139 yards and 10 touchdowns. Dubenion averaged 27.1 yards per reception, a single season mark that stands today as a Bills all-time best.
A member of the Bills Wall of Fame and the Bills 25th Anniversary Team, Dubenion is also a member of the AFL Hall of Fame.
“He was so reliable and nobody could cover him,” said former teammate Charley Ferguson. “I don’t think Duby ever knew how fast he could really run because he was the kind of person that ran accordingly in order to beat somebody. Whatever it took he could do it. He was just that kind of receiver.”
Lee Evans (2004-present)
The Bills current number one wideout has certainly gotten his career off to a good start. After the close of the 2007 campaign Evans had compiled more receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns than any receiver in team history in their first four seasons.
His six career 70-plus yard touchdown receptions are already a Bills team record. Evans’ most memorable game also set a team mark when against the Houston Texans in 2006 the Bills speed merchant recorded 11 catches for a team record 265 yards and a pair of 83-yard touchdowns in a 24-21 victory.
J.D. Hill (1971-1975)
The former first-round pick of the Bills (4th overall) had a dependable set of hands that Buffalo quarterbacks made sure to use early and often. Hill’s best season was in 1972 when he posted a career-high 52 catches for 754 yards and five touchdowns earning AFC Pro Bowl honors.
His best game came in his final season with Buffalo. Hill’s four-reception day for 114 yards against the Patriots on Nov. 23, 1975 also included a 77-yard touchdown reception as Buffalo beat New England 45-31.
“J.D. was a competitor from the word go,” said Bills former quarterback Joe Ferguson. “He loved to catch the football. We had to get him the football early in the game and then he’d play lights out the rest of the way. He was one of those guys that loved to play and knew he had a lot of talent. A very confident guy.”
Frank Lewis (1978-1983)
Never able to make a big impact in his early years with the run-oriented Pittsburgh Steelers, the career of Frank Lewis took off after he was acquired by the Bills in 1978.
His first season with Buffalo he recorded career highs in catches and receiving yards and scored more touchdowns in 1978 than he had scored in his three previous seasons in Pittsburgh combined.
In his six years in Buffalo he more than doubled the receiving yardage he had in his first seven years in the NFL with the Steelers. Lewis posted a pair of 1,000-yard seasons in his time with Buffalo, earning AFC Pro Bowl honors in 1981 after setting career marks in catches (70) and receiving yards (1,248).
His most memorable game came in 1979 when he had a career-high 190 receiving yards on seven catches in a 20-17 win over Detroit.
“Frank was a technician,” said former teammate Jerry Butler. “He was extremely disciplined, creative. I called him the professor because he was always trying to teach you the little nuances of the game of how to beat somebody. I was amazed at some of the catches he was able to make. He had some of the biggest hands I’ve ever seen on a receiver. He was one of the greatest Bills receivers ever to play the game.”
James Lofton (1989-1992)
The Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver played only a small portion of his career in Buffalo, but the K-Gun offense rekindled James Lofton’s career as he matched some career highs in his four seasons with the Bills.
Lofton’s best year with Buffalo came in 1991 when at age 35, he posted his sixth and final 1,000-yard season and tied a career high with eight touchdown receptions en route to Buffalo’s second consecutive AFC title. Lofton earned the last of his eight Pro Bowl nods for his efforts that season.
Though his incomprehensible eight-catch 220-yard, two touchdown show in a 1991 regular season win over Cincinnati was impressive, his five-catch 113-yard two touchdown performance in the 1990 AFC Championship whitewash win over Oakland (51-3) was the most memorable.
Eric Moulds (1996-2005)
Were it not for Andre Reed, Eric Moulds would dominate Buffalo’s all-time receiving record book. The former first-round pick is second in Bills annals in career receptions and receiving yards.
Moulds however, is the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions of 25 yards or more (81) and holds three other team receiving records.
The three-time Pro Bowl wideout holds the franchise mark for most receptions in a season (100) and most receiving yards in a season (1,368). Moulds also has the longest streak of consecutive games with a reception in a Bills career (121).
His most memorable performance was his NFL record breaking 240-receiving yard outing in the 1998 Wild Card loss against the Dolphins. Moulds also had nine catches and a touchdown in the game.
Andre Reed (1985-1999)
The seven-time Pro Bowl receiver is team’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. A three-time Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist, Reed is a Bills Wall of Famer.
Reed also holds the team record for most receptions in a game when he pulled in 15 against Green Bay on Nov. 20, 1994. But his most memorable performance came in the 1992 AFC Wild Card game against Houston.
Minus an injured Jim Kelly and an injured Thurman Thomas, Reed posted an eight-catch 136-yard receiving day and scored the last three touchdowns for Buffalo in the greatest comeback game in NFL history (41-38 OT).