Important dates in Bills history presented by M&T bank helps fans understand what's important. In the NFL, a strong front office is important, and near the end of the 1985 season, the Bills hired a general manager who would stabilize the organization: Bill Polian.
The Bills originally hired Polian as Director of Pro Personnel on August 2, 1984. In that role, he orchestrated signing of future Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith to his first NFL contract. On December 30, 1985, the Bills promoted him. As general manager, he constructed the team that would go on to appear in four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990-1993.
While the Bills acquired some of the most popular players on their Super Bowl teams—quarterback Jim Kelly and wide receiver Andre Reed, for example—before promoting Polian, the future Hall of Fame general manager went to work building the rest of the roster that would make the Bills the winningest AFC team of the 1990s. In 1986, he drafted Pro Bowl offensive tackle Will Wolford in the first round out of Vanderbilt. He also hired head coach Mark Levy in Week Nine of that season, and claimed wide receiver/special team's ace Steve Tasker off waivers from the Houston Oilers. In 1987, Polian acquired three players that would anchor the defense during its Super Bowl run: he drafted linebacker Shane Conlan in the first round and defensive back Nate Odomes in the second round. He also traded for linebacker Cornelius Bennett from Indianapolis.
Polian's best acquisition came in the 1988 draft, when he drafted future Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas in the second round. Other prominent Polian draft picks include wide receiver Don Beebe (third round, 1989), Pro Bowl defensive back Henry Jones (first round, 1991), and 2011 Bills Wall of Famer, defensive end Phil Hansen (second round, 1991).
The Bills fired Polian at the conclusion of the 1992 season after losing their third straight Super Bowl, but even though his tenure with the team ended with his firing, the team owed the construction of the roster to the man who they promoted to general manager on December 30, 1985.