February 1, 1972 -- There really is only one reward for a terrible pro football season. That's the first pick in the college draft. The Bills were quite bad in 1971, and their reward came on this day.
It's fair to say their run of bad fortune continued.
The Bills took defensive end Walt Patulski from Notre Dame. Patulski was a dominating player for the Fighting Irish, a combination of speed and strength. Even better, he came from a suburb of Syracuse, so he was happy to be playing close to home.
Patulski played four years with the Bills, and never got past an average lineman in those days. He moved to the Cardinals in 1976, where he suffered a career-ending knee injury.
Hindsight is 20-20, and the Bills could have gone in many different directions that year that would have worked out better. Oddly, Buffalo eventually landed two more of the top four draft choices: Sherman White and Bobby Moore (later Ahmad Rashad).
Here are some of the others to go in the first round: Riley Odoms, Willie Buchanon, Jerome Barkum, Jeff Sieman, and -- whoops -- Franco Harris. Harris and Simpson might have needed an extra ball in the Bills' backfield, but it's nice to dream.
--- Budd Bailey