Where It Began

When any athlete gets drafted by a franchise, they automatically think this is the city and team they want to spend their entire career. That could have been a logical thought ten or twenty years ago, especially if you were a high draft pick. Nowadays though, an agent or NFL personnel would laugh at a rookie making such an insane assumption. Truthfully, no athlete is safe anymore and will be interesting to see how some great athletes choose where to have their jerseys retire, after playing on three or four teams.

Franchises cutting athletes has risen to a high point this year to get under the salary cap, and it?s made a very interesting start to the free agency period. Still, the chaos of letting athletes leave starts back in 1999 in Buffalo. The Bills glory days from the early 90?s were fading out in the mid to late 90?s, but still had the same nucleus of veterans. With a change of direction in mind, the Bills turned away the thoughts of keeping Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, and Bruce Smith. It had to have been a tough decision for the organization, but for two of the three athletes it proved to be the right one.

Andre Reed went on to the Washington Redskins in 2000, where he was a non factor, and then failed to make the Denver Broncos final roster a year later. It was the way a Hall of Famer shouldn?t leave the league, but it happened. For Thurman Thomas, he signed to the ultimate Buffalo rival in the Miami Dolphins, and had a career ending injury after being a minimal part of the Dolphins offense. Added to that, Thomas was once again put in the spotlight on a negative note when he was arrested for drug possession in 2004.

Bruce Smith, was the only athlete of the three that deserved an extension as he went on to Washington and still posed as a strong defensive end.

With Jerry Rice still trying to continue his career, the examples of Reed and Thomas should be a factor for Rice this time around. He is too great of an athlete, to let his mind get in the way of his body. He has his titles and legacy, and has no more to give to the game of football.

For Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, and Bruce Smith the latter parts of their hall of fame careers will be an after thought, as they?ll always be remembered as Buffalo Bills.


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