The Buffalo Bills announced today that the franchise will be retiring a number for just the second time in its rich history.
Gold Jacket and legendary Bills defensive end Bruce Smith will have his jersey number 78 retired during the team’s home opener on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2016 against the New York Jets.
"We will be honoring Bruce Smith, one of the greatest players in Bills history, during our Thursday night home opener in a special halftime ceremony in which we'll retired his jersey number,” Bills President Russ Brandon announced on WGR Sportsradio 550. “On behalf of Kim and Terry Pegula and the entire Bills organization, we feel this is a tremendous opportunity to honor Bruce and his Hall of Fame career. We believe it's going to be a great night for Bruce and his family and Bills fans everywhere."
Fellow Gold Jacket and former teammate Jim Kelly’s number 12 was retired 15 years ago in 2001.
Smith was a dominant player with the Bills from 1985-1999. The first player selected in the 1985 NFL Draft, he quickly established himself as a starter on the Bills defensive line. 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.
Named the AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year by the NFL Players Association, Smith 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.
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.
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