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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: James Harris

(Born July 20, 1947) -- You might have heard of one of the rookies in the Buffalo Bills’ backfield in 1969. O.J. Simpson was the team’s first draft choice and one of the most heralded college players in history.

Another one wasn’t quite so famous. James Harris worked his way into the starting lineup after being an eighth-round draft choice of the Bills from Grambling in that same season. Harris became the first African American to be a starter at the position at the beginning of a season.

By the way, Marlin Briscoe, the first black to start at quarterback while he was with Denver, caught some of Harris’ passes that season as a Bills’ wide receiver.

Harris stayed with the Bills for two seasons, and then was released and signed with the Rams. The quarterback helped Los Angeles get into the playoffs and made the Pro Bowl in 1974.

After retirement, Harris moved smoothly into the front office of NFL teams. He worked for the Ravens and Jaguars before landing with the Lions in 2009.

--- Budd Bailey


Bandits | History
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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.