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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: In the fold

   March 15, 1967 -- If the Buffalo Bills needed absolute proof that they were really going to play in the National Football League, this day provided it.

   The NFL and the American Football League had agreed to merge in the summer of 1966, so the Bills could believe that good things would happen in their football future. Still, taking part in a common draft with all of the teams was a milestone.

   Buffalo had the 22nd pick in the first round, and took safety John Pitts from Arizona State. Pitts played seven years in Buffalo, staying through 1973. He turned out to be a decent enough selection.

   The draft went 17 rounds that year, and the Bills took such players as Gary Bugenhagen and Jim LeMoine. But there were a lot of picks that didn't work out. The Bills even drafted George Carter, a basketball player from St. Bonventure. Carter might have been the last person ever drafted out of St. Bonaventure.

   The first pick in the draft was Bubba Smith of Michigan State, who went to the Colts. Some of the players who went in that draft were Steve Spurrier, Bob Griese, Floyd Little, Alan Page, and Gene Upshaw. Hall of Famers Lem Barney and Willie Lanier could have gone to the Bills, but they went to the Lions and Chiefs respectively in the second round.

--- Budd Bailey 


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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.