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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Good idea at the time

   May 3, 1979 -- Sometimes, a lot of work and planning can go down the drain in a hurry.

   As evidence, we bring you the Tom Cousineau story.

   The Bills had sent O.J. Simpson to San Francisco in 1978, and received the Niners' number one pick in 1979 as part of the package that came in return. San Francisco finished last, giving Buffalo the initial pick in the draft.

   After plenty of research, the Bills decided to draft linebacker Tom Cousineau of Ohio State. Cousineau was picked on this date. But the Bills couldn't sign him, as he jumped to Montreal of the Canadian Football League. Reportedly Montreal doubled the Bills' initial contract offer.

   Then-Bills coach Chuck Knox heard about Cousineau's departure while at training camp. He became quite pensive, as you could imagine, although no objects were thrown.

   Cousineau eventually decided to come to the NFL, and the Bills traded his rights to Cleveland where he was so-so. It might have worked out better for the Bills, though, to take Hall of Famers Dan Hampton or Kellen Winslow.

   But at least with its own pick in the first round, Buffalo grabbed wide receiver Jerry Butler. And with one of the picks the Bills received for Cousineau, they took a quarterback named Jim Kelly. That worked out pretty well too ... eventually.

--- 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.