Booker Edgerson took center stage at Ralph Wilson Stadium during halftime of the Bills’ loss to the New York Jets Sunday, becoming the 26th member of the team’s Wall of Fame.
Edgerson, a cornerback on the 1964 and 1965 AFL championship teams, played in Buffalo from 1962-1969 and has stayed in the area ever since. He called the ceremony one of his greatest accomplishments since he came to Buffalo 48 years ago.
“It’s one of the greatest days of my life, outside of my kids being born and coming to Buffalo,” Edgerson said. “Each day people ask me how I feel about going on the wall. I have a different story each time they (ask) me that, and today it’s ‘wonderful.’”
Edgerson, who joined eight of his former teammates on the Wall, said the highlights of his playing career were the two AFL championships.
“We are the only team that finished on a winning season, so we are the only champions that the Bills have ever had,” Edgerson said.
Edgerson said his career and this day wouldn’t be possible without former Bills head coach Lou Saban, who was also Edgerson’s coach in college at Western Illinois before he took the head job with the Boston Patriots.
A four-sport letterman in college, Edgerson had no intentions of playing professional football. During his senior year, Saban held a contract with the Patriots for him.
“Lou Saban … called me and asked me (if) I wanted to play football and I said, ‘I don’t know; I’m a baseball player,’” Edgerson said.
After a falling out with his baseball coach, Edgerson decided to jump at Saban’s contract offer. Shortly after, the Patriots fired Saban. Edgerson was loyal to the coach – perhaps, as he said, to a foolish level – but it worked out for the best.
“(It was) stupid; not understanding … that he might end up teaching school somewhere,” Edgerson said. “Fortunately he ended up in Buffalo. Lou Saban has been the highlight of my life. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you right now.”
Now 70, and president of the Bills Alumni Association, which focuses on charity work, Edgerson said he is honored to join his fellow alumni on the Wall.
“I had a preview of where my name’s going to be, and I’m next to the great Bruce Smith,” Edgerson said. “Not only are they great football players, but they’re great pillars of the community.”
Edgerson, who served 23 years as director of equity and diversity at Erie Community College, said it has been a privilege to give back to the community over the years in his various capacities.
“We always talk about giving back to the community, but the community has given so much to us and has given us an opportunity to do what we do best,” he said.
Edgerson added the community’s support of him has kept him in Western New York since his playing days ended.
“I made my home in Buffalo,” Edgerson said. “The people here have been very, very friendly and cordial, treated me with respect and dignity, and have given me the opportunity to be the Booker Edgerson that I am today.”