By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
No. 14: March 14, 1967 – The Bills trade Daryle Lamonica, Glenn Bass, a third-round draft choice in 1967 (Bill Fairband), and a fifth-round draft choice in 1967 (Mike Hibler) to Oakland for Tom Flores, Art Powell, and a second-round draft choice in 1967.
The most popular person in an NFL city is often the backup quarterback, since the starter at that position usually takes the blame for losses for the entire team. That’s true even when the starter is really good, as Jack Kemp was for the Bills in the 1960s. He was backed up by Daryle Lamonica, a Notre Dame product noted for a strong arm and a frequent seat on the bench.
The Bills had lost the AFL championship game in 1966, and Lamonica had grown tired of watching from the sidelines. Buffalo also needed a wide receiver opposite Elbert Dubenion, as Glenn Bass had suffered from injury problems.
In the spring of 1967, the teams of the newly-merged NFL and AFL met for the first time to start a common draft. The event also sparked a series of trades, and Bills fans of a certain age vividly remember the one that involved the Raiders. Lamonica was shipped to Oakland with Bass for Tom Flores, a quarterback that was judged by the Raiders as not good enough to lead a team to a title, and veteran star wide receiver Art Powell.
The deal was considered risky by Raiders’ fans, but it worked out spectacularly well – even if Bass was never a factor. Lamonica’s arm was a great fit in an Oakland offense that liked to go deep early and often. The Raiders played their first game of the season in Buffalo, and took home a 48-6 victory. Lamonica – named the AFL’s MVP – led the Raiders to a 13-1 record in 1967 and a berth in Super Bowl II. Flores only started three games at QB for the Bills, and Powell caught a mere 20 passes in his one season in Buffalo. Buffalo’s Glory Days came to an abrupt end at the same time, and the transaction became linked with that. The deal is still remembered as one of the worst in Bills’ history.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)