Skip to main content

Feb. 22, 1985: Bills agree to rookie deal with Bruce Smith

Archived photos of Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith.


The Bills and former Virginia Tech DE Bruce Smith reached a tentative agreement on a contract. In April of that same year, the Bills would make Smith the top pick in the NFL Draft (see below).

Here's Smith's bio, courtesy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Bruce Smith was a dominant player during his 19 playing seasons with the Buffalo Bills (1985-1999) and the Washington Redskins (2000-03). His speed and strength made him one of the most feared defensive ends in the modern game. Teams routinely double, if not triple-teamed the former Outland Trophy winner and Virginia Tech All-America.

The first player selected in the 1985 NFL Draft, Smith quickly established himself as a starter on the Bills defensive line. Named the AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year by the NFL Players Association, he went on to be named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1990 and 1996 and the AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 1987, 1988, 1990, and 1996. He also earned first-team All-Pro honors nine times and was selected to play in 11 Pro Bowls.

Although Smith's lightning quickness made him a devastating outside pass rusher, he was also devastatingly strong. "He is so strong," proclaimed Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon, "that he can bulldoze over you."

A key member of the Bills teams that won six AFC Eastern Division championships and four AFC titles, many observers feel that 1990 was Smith's finest season. That year he recorded 19 quarterback sacks and his dominant play frequently changed the complexion of the game. Against the New York Jets in Week 3 he recorded six tackles, two sacks, defensed a pass, and forced two fumbles. In Week 14 against the Indianapolis Colts, he sacked quarterback Jeff George four times in the first 20 minutes of the game. And in Super Bowl XXV he came up with one of the biggest plays of the game when he sacked New York Giants quarterback Jeff Hostetler in the end zone for a safety, giving the Bills a 12-3 lead.

The NFL's all-time career sack leader (200), Smith's 13 seasons with 10 or more sacks is also an NFL record. Dedicated to staying in top physical condition, Smith was named to both the NFL's All-Decade Teams of the 1980s and 1990s.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.