Leading up to the 2010 NFL draft, Buffalobills.com will be sharing the memories of some of the Bills most memorable draft choices as we ask you the fan to pick your top 10 all-time draft choices in team history. Was it a choice of incomparable value? Was it the top pick in the draft? Was it a pick that far exceeded anyone's expectations? Those choices are up to you the fan, and they can be made at **the Buffalo Bills all-time draft site* between now and April 22nd.*
It's funny when things don't exactly go as expected, but everything seems to work out all right in the end. Such was the case for Ruben Brown leading up to the 1995 NFL draft.
The 6-3, 300-pound guard out of the University of Pittsburgh firmly believed teams like the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers had placed a high stock in him, which was most certainly the case. However, a call from former Bills general manager, the late John Butler, quickly changed the offensive lineman's thinking.
Brown didn't even know the Bills had taken an interest.
"Actually, no I didn't. I had no clue," Brown said. "Teams like Tampa Bay and Minnesota all flew me in and had meetings and stuff like that. I don't remember seeing any of the scouts approaching me going into the combine. A lot of teams did show interest, but (the Bills') scouts weren't looking at me, I don't think.
"I had no private workouts (with Buffalo). There were numbers of coaches there (at the combine). They didn't have me do any drills. A couple of other teams did. The Bills did nothing special other than just watch me."
Watch him they did. And with the 14th pick in the first round, Buffalo picked up a player who would end up earning eight consecutive Pro Bowl selections from 1996-2003 (and another in '07, when he was with the Chicago Bears).
While it was a hectic day, Brown remembers vividly the 1995 draft. And luckily for him, he didn't have to wait around long for his name to be called.
He got the call when he was on a visit to New York City with family and friends. Needless to say, with the draft day festivities, they were having an excellent time. And being pleasantly blindsided by a call from a team he thought previously held no interest no doubt added excitement to the most thrilling moment of a young player's career.
"I got a free trip to Manhattan with my friends and family," said Brown. "It was an awesome time. I got to take quite a few of my buddies from college. My agent had gotten us a suite. All my family members were there. I had a large family, so everyone came over."
Brown admits he was quite calm before the draft. That changed after he was selected.
"It was like a whirlwind. They take you around; the cameras are flashing. You don't really remember much," he said. "But there are lots of guys congratulating you and patting you on the back, just lots of those things.
"You don't really remember who you said hello to, who congratulated you or anything like that. But it really is a special time. I'll never forget it."
The excitement however, quickly turned to reality. For one, the former Pro Bowl guard mused, was the location of his new employer.
"You obviously hear about Buffalo, but I had never been there," Brown said. "I grew up in kind of the New Jersey area. Once you get there, you realize that it's not exactly a suburb of Manhattan. Once I realized it, I was on the opposite side of the state. I absolutely didn't think anything negative. I was just excited to get going and start playing some football."
And as for another fond memory from Butler's call that day, Brown was asked which number he would like to wear on his jersey. The hope? His idol, Buffalo's Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith, who wore No. 78.
"I do remember John Butler asking me what number I wanted to wear," he said. "It took me a second to realize the question he just asked me."
With Smith still on the roster and a teammate, Brown got tomake a name for himselfin a different number as he ended up with No. 79 (finishing with 74 in Chicago).
Butler was credited witha good numberof the front office moves that helped propel Buffalo to four-straight AFC championships from 1990-'93. Brown was just one of the many historical draft picks that panned out well for the Bills, but unfortunately a Super Bowl ring never found its way onto his finger.
He spent nine years in a Bills uniform with his rookie campaign being the only year in which he didn't earn a Pro Bowl nod. The last four years of his career were spent in Chicago. He has the distinction of starting in all 181 games he played.