By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
No. 6: October 31, 1987 – The Bills trade Greg Bell, a first-round draft choice in 1988, a first-round draft choice in 1989, and a second-round draft choice in 1989 in a three-way deal with Los Angeles and Indianapolis for Cornelius Bennett.
Lawrence Taylor needed about one series of downs to show that he was going to be a superstar in the NFL when he joined the New York Giants in 1981. His play made every team wish it had its own version of the superstar outside linebacker.
In 1987, the Colts thought they had acquired such a player when they drafted Cornelius Bennett out of Alabama second overall. The problem was that they couldn’t sign him. The two sides reached an impasse over a contract. Meanwhile, the Bills were watching the situation with interest, while the Colts had an eye on Rams’ star running back Eric Dickerson.
That led to a three-way deal that was one of the biggest deadline trades made in NFL history. The Colts added Dickerson to their roster, and the Rams picked up Greg Bell and several draft choices. As for the Bills, general manager Bill Polian took one look at Bennett at a practice and famously described him as “Mickey Mantle in cleats.”
If there was one moment where the Bills showed they were serious about becoming a contender late in the 1980s, this was it. Bennett wasn’t Taylor – who was? – but he was a big part of the team that went to four straight Super Bowls.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)