By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist

Shane Nelson – Signed by the Bills in 1977

It’s rather unusual for a group of three defensive players to have their own nickname. That makes the trio of Shane Nelson, Jim Haslett and Fred Smerlas of the Bills unique.

Nelson was signed by Buffalo as a free agent out of Baylor. He was one of the few bright spots on the 1977 team that went 3-11. Haslett and Smerlas turned up in 1979, and the three played together regularly for the first time in 1980. Buffalo was the surprise winner of the AFC East that year, and the play of the team’s defense helped. Sportswriter Mike Dodd of the Buffalo Evening News called the trio “The Bermuda Triangle,” since opposing running backs tended to disappear when near any of them. It stuck. The threesome was featured in posters.

In hindsight, Nelson’s career didn’t last long after that highpoint. He only played in 10 games in 1981, and he was out of football early in the 1982 season. Knee surgeries no doubt had a lot to do with that. But he had a nice run with the team, and the catchy nickname of the group will make sure he’s remembered by Bills’ fans of that era.

(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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