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Chan Gailey: No shortcuts to greatness

By Tim Graham

PITTSFORD -- When I showed up at Buffalo Bills training camp on Monday, I still was filled with the Pro Football Hall of Fame holy spirit.

So I asked Bills head coach Chan Gailey, who has worked with some true legends, how he applies the lessons he learned from them.

"The greatest players I've ever been around, for the most part, have been the hardest workers," Gailey said, "and that's what I try to remind them.

"There's a lot of talented people, but those that end up being great, which means you've got a chance to be in the Hall of Fame, they're hard workers, and I just try to tell them that. If we ever get in that conversation, I try to relate that to them. I've never seen a great one that didn't work hard.

"The only substitution for hard work is a miracle. And I believe in miracles, but they just don't happen in football that often."

A rundown of Hall inductees with whom Gailey worked directly ...

Denver Broncos (special teams coach 1985; special teams and TE coach 1986-87; QB coach 1988; offensive coordinator/WR coach 1989-90): quarterback John Elway, tight end Shannon Sharpe.

Pittsburgh Steelers (WR coach 1994-95; offensive coordinator, 1996-97): center Dermontti Dawson.

Dallas Cowboys (head coach 1998-99): quarterback Troy Aikman, receiver Michael Irvin, cornerback Deion Sanders, running back Emmitt Smith.

Miami Dolphins (offensive coordinator 2000-01): running back Thurman Thomas.

Yeah, I realize that last connection is weak, given the circumstances. But it's technically true.

Gailey also coached Hall of Fame finalist Jerome Bettis in Pittsburgh.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |