By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist

Steve Freeman – Signed by the Bills in 1975

Steve Freeman was a fifth-round pick of the Patriots in 1975. Yet he never played a game for New England. Instead, he wound up as a 12-year veteran with the Pats’ division rivals, the Bills.

Freeman arrived in Buffalo on waivers in 1975. He was a reserve for the most of the first four years of his stay here. Freeman’s patience finally paid off in 1979, when he won a starting job. A year later the safety had seven interceptions in helping the Bills win the AFC East. Freeman stayed right through 1986, when he still was a starter in every game for the Bills. Finally, in 1987, he closed his career with Minnesota. Freeman left with 178 games played for Buffalo, which at the time was a team record.

But Freeman’s NFL story wasn’t over yet. He made the unusual switch to official in 2001. What’s more, son Brad eventual joined him in the ranks of NFL official in 2014.

(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has been involved in almost every aspect of the local sports scene for the last 40 years. He worked for WEBR Radio, the Buffalo Sabres' public relations department and The Buffalo News during that time. In that time he covered virtually every aspect of the area's sports world, from high schools to the Bills and Sabres and everything in between. Along the way, Budd served as a play-by-play announcer for the Bisons, an analyst for the Stallions, and a talk-show host. He won the National Lacrosse League's Tom Borrelli Award as the media personality of the year in 2011, and was a finalist for that same award in 2017. Budd's seventh and eighth books, one on the Transcontinental Railroad and the other about Ichiro Suzuki, are scheduled to be released in the fall.

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