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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Ed Rutkowski

     (Born March 21, 1941) -- Think the Bills are popular in Western New York? Where else would an emergency quarterback be elected to public office?

     That was the Ed Rutkowski story, the former Bills player who went on to serve in Erie County's highest office.

     Rutkowski came out of Notre Dame to join the Bills as a kick returner and halfback in 1963. He played six seasons withe Bills, and ran for 250 yards in his career while catching 63 passes for 981 yards.

     But he might be best remembered in 1968 for taking a turn as the Bills' quarterback. Buffalo got clobbered by injuries at the position that year, and Rutkowski stepped in when there was no one else. He was 41 for 100 with no touchdowns and six interceptions, answering the call when the team needed him. There's something to be said for that.

     Rutkowski was one of the Bills' radio commentators from 1972 to 1978, thus helping to describe O.J. Simpson's great years. He served nine years as County Executive, winning two elections. Rutkowski went on to serve in state government for 12 years after that.

--- Budd Bailey

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