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.