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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Reggie McKenzie

(Born July 27, 1950) -- Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler once recalled that Reggie McKenzie was a "tall, gangly kid" when he showed up for his sophomore season in 1969. McKenzie filled up nicely from there, and so did his resume of football success.

The offensive lineman had an outstanding career with the Wolverines. He was all-conference as a junior and All-American as a senior. The Buffalo Bills needed help on the offensive line when their turn in the second round came, and McKenzie was an obvious choice.

Waiting for McKenzie in Buffalo was a running back named O.J. Simpson. O.J. had struggled in his early years here, but help was clearly on the way with the arrival of McKenzie and Joe DeLamielleure. Suddenly, the Bills had a good offensive line, and Simpson was free to show his ability.

When O.J. ran for 2,003 yards, McKenzie became the public face of the offensive line. His good humor came across nicely in interviews, and running back and guard became linked. Simpson had two more amazing years in 1974 and 1975 while at the peak of his career.

McKenzie started every game he ever played for the Bills through 1982. That’s when he was traded to Seattle, where he spent two years before retiring. McKenzie eventually became a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

--- Budd Bailey

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