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Smith and Wilson Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame

By Mark Scott

Tampa, FL – Two member of the Buffalo Bills were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday. Defensive end Bruce Smith and team owner Ralph Wilson will be inducted on August 8 in Canton, Ohio.

Joining Sith and Wilson are versatile defensive back Rod Woodson, who played much of his career for Pittsburgh, the late Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas, former Minnesota guard Randall McDaniel and the late Bob Hayes of the Dallas Cowboys.

A defensive end, Smith retired five years ago with 200 sacks and made two all-decade teams. Drafted No. 1 overall in 1985, Smith had the most seasons with double-digit sacks (13) and the most postseason sacks (14 1/2). He earned defensive player of the year honors in 1990 and 1996 with Buffalo and concluded his 19-season career with three seasons as a Redskin.

Smith previously said making the hall would be a bigger honor if two other Bills, Wilson and wide receiver Andre Reed, also got in the same year. He got half of his wish. The 90-year-old Wilson is the only owner the Bills have had since they were a charter member of the AFL in 1960. Reed will have to wait at least one more year.

"This is a special class. I am overjoyed," Smith said.

"Just thinking about my father and all the sacrifices he and my mother made when I was a child growing up to be a man," he added tearfully. "How he wanted me to have a life better than he had. I just wish he was here. He would be extremely proud of this day."

Wilson and the Titans' Bud Adams are the only original AFL members who still own their franchises. Their teams will meet in the Hall of Fame game the day after the inductions.

Wilson has steadfastly kept his team in a small market while other owners sought bigger markets and larger stadiums. He drew the biggest ovation at the announcement and mentioned that he'd seen every hall enshrinee perform at some point.

"What a shock," he said. "I have made so many friends in football over the last half century. I don't know what to say."

He quickly thought of something: "It's such an honor."