The Monumental 1987 Halloween Trade That Jump Started a Bills Dynasty
It’s the perfect storm of spooky coming to Western New York this Sunday. The Bills take on the Miami Dolphins at 1 pm at Highmark Stadium. So, there’s plenty of time for you to tailgate, squish the fish, and then get home and take the little ones out for trick-or-treating.
Thanks to bye weeks, and leap years, it’s been over a decade since the Bills last played on Halloween. Let’s hope the results this Sunday are better than the last time they took the field on All Hallow’s Eve when they dropped a heartbreaker to The Kansas City Chiefs 13-10 in overtime at Arrowhead Stadium.
But there is a Bills piece of history that occurred on Halloween over 35 years ago, that shaped the franchise for the next decade and helped to jump-start the Bills’ dominance over the rest of the AFC for years to come.
NFL trades usually aren’t as sexy as those in the NBA. It’s rare that a superstar gets traded mid-season, but in 1987 a future Hall of Famer was dealt on Halloween. The centerpiece of the trade was Eric Dickerson, who was fresh off his NFL record 2,105 rushing yards for the then LA Rams, who due to a contract dispute was dealt to the Indianapolis Colts. But there was a third-team involved, our beloved Buffalo Bills.
The Bills at the time gave up a king’s ransom, their 1st round picks in 1988 and 1989, and running back Greg Bell, to acquire the rights to the Colts 1st Round pick that year, Alabama Linebacker Cornelius Bennett.
Bennett, who was paired up with 1985 1st rounder Bruce Smith, laid the foundation for the Bills defense for the next eight seasons. Bennett had a stellar career in Buffalo, playing in over 100 games, and would eventually be named to the NFL all 90’s team, and the Buffalo Bills 50th Anniversary Team in 2009.