It's time for a football post since that's all I've been hearing about lately.
I'm sure that'll cause some baseball diehards to ignore this, but I don't think baseball is doing itself any favors right now, so I'll focus on a sport that's actually operating.
I was talking football to a co-worker and the topic of Bills quarterbacks came up. I'm pretty hazy on NFL history, even for my favorite team, and he was trying to remember the names of the Bills QBs between Joe Ferguson's retirement and Jim Kelly's arrival.
He started talking about Joe Dufek, who I don't remember at all, and then he was trying to remember the other barely-there Buffalo QB from that time. "Vince Ferragamo?" I offered. No, it wasn't Vince, he said. He never did figure it out.
I did later. My football cards told me. Cards are good like that.
It was Bruce Mathison. He started seven games during the Bills' horrific 2-14 season in 1985. Ferragamo started the other nine games. Mathison was a well-known quarterback for Nebraska in the early 1980s but didn't translate much to the NFL.
That little card discovery caused me to wonder whether I had a card of every Bills quarterback who started the majority of the teams' games each year. I don't have an extensive Bills collection so this little exercise would allow me to figure out who I should add to the collection.
Mathison won't qualify because he was never the primary Bills starter in any single year.
OK, let's get some history on some Buffalo pigskin slingers.
1960: Richie Lucas.
The first quarterback for the Bills. I don't have a card of him but he's gettable, in the 1960, 1961 and 1962 Fleer sets.
1961: Johnny Green.
Again, no card of him but he's in the '62 Fleer set. Speaking of which:
1962: Warren Rabb
I don't have this card. But I really, really need it. Not only is Rabb's little card dance nifty but his name is misspelled.
1963-67, 1969: Jack Kemp
I do have a card of Jack Kemp, from 1968 Topps. Somebody thought it was necessary to write numbers all over it, as if Kemp was calling them out under center.
1968: Dan Darragh
I do have this card as well. It just arrived yesterday from Bob. It's in remarkable shape for a 1970 Topps football card. Darragh has the honor of holding the worst total won-loss record for any Bills quarterback in history as Buffalo went 1-12-1 in 1968.
1970-72: Dennis Shaw
I have no cards of Dennis Shaw. This is another quarterback my co-worker was talking about. He's older than me, so he remembered Shaw and I didn't have the vaguest idea. He said Shaw spent most of his time with the Bills flattened by a defensive lineman.
1973-84: Joe Ferguson
This was the Bills quarterback when I first became aware of the Bills. How wonderful is this card? As a baseball fan first, I thought how odd that the Bills had a player with the same name as a player, who I knew much better, on my favorite baseball team.
Also, I've mentioned before that as a youngster I'd make trips to Buffalo to see relatives. I'd read the Buffalo sports sections religiously like a good little future journalist, and I couldn't get over how much was written about the Bills. It didn't matter when I was in Buffalo, summer, spring, fall, there were always Bills stories. Crazy, I thought. Little did I know.
1985: Vince Ferragamo
I do not have a Bills card of Vince Ferragamo because THERE IS NO BILLS CARD OF VINCE FERRAGAMO. At least none that I could find. How could this be? Did Ferragamo refuse to be include in the Topps set because he wanted nothing to do with acknowledging his part in a 2-14 season? Certainly understandable but my quest is now pointless. I want a Bills Vince Ferragamo card!
1986-96: Jim Kelly
No problem with finding Jim Kelly cards, in my collection or otherwise. Not only was he the quarterback during the most successful period in Bills history but his career coincided with a boom in football cards.
He remains the only Bills quarterback I have interviewed.
1997: Todd Collins
As Kelly's successor, there was a lot of pressure and a lot of talk. Then the talk disappeared because Collins started just the one season.
1998-99: Doug Flutie
This was a weird time for the Bills. Buffalo was successful in the late 1990s, reaching the playoffs each year that Flutie started. But you never got the feeling from the coaching staff that Flutie was really the starter.
2000: Rob Johnson
This is who the Bills' decision-makers wanted to be the team's starting QB instead of Flutie. Johnson was ... not good.
2001: Alex Van Pelt
I don't have any Van Pelt cards. There are plenty of them. Pretty weird for someone who was the QB of a 3-13 team.
2002-04: Drew Bledsoe
"Holy heck, the Bills are getting Drew Bledsoe???? Sure, I can learn to love a long-time New England Patriots quarterback!" It was totally weird that Bledsoe was playing for the Bills the entire time he was doing it.
2005: Kelly Holcomb
Again, no card of Holcomb, but there are a bunch even though the Bills were 5-11.
2006: J.P. Losman
Trading cards loved this guy. The Bills went 7-9.
2007-08: Trent Edwards
By this time, I was starting to wonder if the Bills were ever going to have a decent quarterback again. I arrived as a football fan during a time when just two Bills quarterbacks started the vast majority of the team's games between 1973 and 1996 and what the heck was this junk?
2008-12: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Somehow Fitzpatrick lasted four years as the Bills' primary quarterback even though in those four years the team never won more than six games in any season. Maybe the team was as sick of changing quarterbacks as I was.
2013: E.J. Manuel
I could've sworn I had a card of E.J. Manuel. There's no shortage of them.
2014: Kyle Orton
There are not a lot of Kyle Orton Bills cards. Most of them are high-end stuff, from National Treasures and Inception.
2015-17: Tyrod Taylor
I liked Tyrod Taylor. I thought he was going to die with that offensive line in front of him. But I liked him.
2018-present: Josh Allen
Here we are. Finally. A quarterback that hopefully will last as long as Ferguson and Kelly. If he doesn't, I know several female Bills fans who are going to be upset.
So, if I was serious about getting a primary Bills signal-caller for each year, I need to find cards of Lucas, Green, Rabb, Shaw, Van Pelt, Holcomb, Manuel and Orton. But I'm not all that enthusiastic after discovering the Ferragamo news.
I also got curious about how the Bills starting quarterbacks rank according to win percentage. I know the QB isn't solely responsible for a team's record, but the good ones have an awful lot to do with it. Here is the list:
1. Doug Flutie: 65.6%
2. Jim Kelly: 62.4%
3. Josh Allen: 61.5%
4. Jack Kemp: 56.3%
4. Kyle Orton: 56.3%
6. Warren Rabb: 53.8%
7. Rob Johnson: 50.0%
7. Tyrod Taylor: 50.0%
10. Drew Bledsoe: 47.9%
11. Joe Ferguson: 44.3%
12. Trent Edwards: 43.8%
13. J.P. Losman: 43.7%
14. Johnny Green: 42.9%
15. Richie Lucas: 38.4%
14. Johnny Green: 42.9%
15. Richie Lucas: 38.4%
16. Todd Collins: 37.5%
16. E.J. Manuel: 37.5%
17. Ryan Fitzpatrick: 34.4%
18. Kelly Holcomb: 31.3%
19. Dennis Shaw: 20.0%
20. Alex Van Pelt: 18.8%
21. Vince Ferragamo: 12.5%
22: Dan Darragh: 7.8%
And thus ends one of my few-and-far between football posts.
If you're watching, enjoy the game tomorrow.
I know the Bills aren't involved. But I don't have anything to say about the Bengals and Rams.