Booker Edgerson is one of the most
underrated star players ever to wear a Buffalo Bills
He's a little less underrated
Edgerson was introduced Monday as
Wall of Fame inductee for the 2010 season.
Edgerson was the shut-down cornerback on the Bills' American Football
teams of the 1960s. The AFL was famous for its wide-open passing attacks
and great receivers.
Edgerson was the player assigned to cover Hall of Famers like Lance
Alworth, Don Maynard and
Fred Biletnikoff and other stars like Otis Taylor.
"It's a great honor," Edgerson said. "It's something I am very,
very proud of because I'm
going to be put on the wall with some very distinguished ballplayers."
Edgerson, who played for the Bills from 1962 through '69, will be
honored at a
regular-season game yet to be determined this fall. He will become the
Bills' 26th wall
honoree and the eighth player honored from the 1960s.
The Bills won the AFL title in 1964 and '65 thanks in part to the
best defense in the
Edgerson was a little like the Darryl Talley of his day. The '60s
Bills had a lot of stars,
and only so many of them could make it onto the all-league team.
Edgerson played in the AFL
all-star game only in 1965, a year in which the entire Bills team was
named. (Talley, the
Bills' star linebacker of the '90s, likewise often was overshadowed for
But it was Edgerson who had the pure speed to draw the toughest
assignments in the secondary.
"I don't know if I was underrated or people were looking for
different things back in those
days," Edgerson said. "I like to think I was a very consistent
Edgerson made one of the greatest defensive plays in Bills'
history. It came on
Thanksgiving Day in San Diego in 1965. The Chargers were highly
motivated to avenge their '64
title game loss to the Bills. In the third quarter, the fleet Alworth
made a 65-yard gain on a
catch-and-run, but Edgerson chased him down from behind at the 3-yard
line and forced Alworth
to fumble into the end zone. Bills linebacker John Tracey recovered for a
touchback. The game
ended tied, 20-20.
"We were in a zone defense and we very seldom ran zone defense,"
Edgerson said. "It was
usually man to man. Lance was going across the middle. I was coming up
to pick up either the
tight end or the back coming out of the backfield. I saw him going
across the middle catching
the ball and I said wow. I just turned and took off and said, "Hey, do
what you can.' When I
caught up with him, was it a surprise? Yes and no. He said that he
slowed down, and that could
have been true. He shouldn't have because he got caught. ... That was a
turning point in our
championship [season]. And it's been a big conversation [point] with me
all these years, too.
It's been gratifying."
Edgerson and the Bills' defense shut down the potent Chargers'
offense in both title games,
20-7 in '64 and 23-0 in '65.
"As you all know, we are the only champions that the Buffalo Bills
have had," Edgerson
said. "We won the last game."
Edgerson starred in football and track at Western Illinois. He ran
a 100-yard dash time of
9.7 seconds and had a long jump of 24 feet, 6 inches. The college's
football coach was Lou
Saban, and Joe Collier was the top defensive coach. Saban and Collier
brought Edgerson to
Buffalo when Saban took the Bills' job in '62.
Both Edgerson and Bills cornerback mate Butch Byrd excelled at
pressing receivers at the
line of scrimmage.
"A lot of the receivers, they don't like to be touched," Edgerson
said. "They concentrated
more on being touched than on getting to where they needed to get to,
and that was an
advantage to us. As long as I threw them off stride, I felt I had an
Edgerson finished with 23 career interceptions. Byrd finished with
40. Edgerson's selection
to the wall probably bodes well for Byrd's chances to get inducted.
Edgerson, 70, retired two years ago after serving 23 years at Erie
Community College as
director of equity and diversity.