By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
No. 37: February 14, 1998 – The Bills trade a first-round draft pick in 1998 (Fred Taylor) and a fourth-round draft choice in 1998 (Tavian Banks) to Jacksonville for Rob Johnson.
Rob Johnson might have been the greatest one-hit wonder in NFL history. He started at quarterback on Opening Day for the Jaguars in 1997 when Mark Brunell was hurt. Johnson went 20 for 24 for 294 yards with two touchdown passes and a rushing TD. Johnson didn’t start another game that season, but he had made a point about his skills.
That’s what the Bills thought, anyway. They were trying to replace Jim Kelly, who retired in 1996. Todd Collins and Alex Van Pelt were the answer in 1997, so Buffalo looked elsewhere. The Bills gave up a first- and fourth-round pick to the Jaguars for Johnson. Just to make the situation at quarterback more interesting, Buffalo signed free agent Doug Flutie from the Canadian Football League.
Both men played in 1998, but Flutie had the better of it during that season. He was 7-3 as a starting QB in helping the Bills get back to the playoffs. A year later, Johnson started a meaningless game at the end of the season and did very well. His performance was enough for owner Ralph Wilson to call Wade Phillips and tell him that Johnson should start the upcoming playoff game over Flutie. You might have heard how that game ended -“The Music City Miracle” – and Flutie spent one more year here before he was traded to San Diego. Then Johnson was 1-7 as a starter in 2001 and he was gone by the next season.
As for that No. 1 pick, Fred Taylor ran for almost 12,000 yards that included five 1,000-yard seasons.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)