He already has a Gold Jacket and a bust in Canton, Ohio, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But, for Bills legend Bruce Smith, he is receiving the ultimate honor Thursday night.
“I don’t know if I’m worthy or lucky enough to deserve all of this,” an emotional Smith said. “But I’m going to try and enjoy all of this.”
The number 78 will never be worn again by a player as it will officially be retired by the franchise during halftime of the Bills game on Thursday night against the Jets.
The former defensive end joins quarterback Jim Kelly as the only two members of the Bills franchise to have their number retired.
“In 1985 I would have never thought this day would have taken place,” Smith said. “I wore this number in college and wanted to wear it with the Bills. I wanted to make it special.”
No. 78’s impact was immediately felt when he stepped onto the field as a rookie and by the time his 19 year career ended in 2003, he stood alone the all-time sacks list with 200.
In 2009 he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“Everybody talks about the body of work, the 15 years here, the four (in Washington) -- in total the 19 years, it was a challenge,” Smith said. “It was having surgery after surgery, spending my offseason trying to get my body back together so I could come out and compete.”
“I just had this drive that was in me and this quality and this trait that I got from my parents. They were blue collar workers and I think that’s what this love affair that the fans and I have. I was a blue collar worker in a blue collar town and they’ve shown their appreciation over the years for it.”
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