By Budd Bailey
Mario Clark of the Bills
Taken in Round 1 in 1976
The next pick: Kim Bokamper had a nice nine-year stay with the Dolphins, splitting his time between linebacker and defensive end. He averaged three official sacks per game once the NFL started counting them in 1982.
Other picks in the round: Tampa Bay started things off well by taking Lee Roy Selmon, a future Hall of Famer. The same could be said about New England, which took Mike Haynes at No. 5. The Jets took a quarterback from Alabama at No. 6 – Richard Todd. Two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffith went at No. 24 to the Bengals.
The details: Mario Clark, who played at Oregon in college, stepped right into the lineup on Opening Day in 1976. He essentially stayed there for the next eight seasons. Mario saw the down days of the late 1970s and better times under Chuck Knox. Clark ended his career by winning a Super Bowl ring with the San Francisco 49ers in the 1984 season.
Other 18s: Dmitri Kalinin was surprisingly available when the Sabres took him in 1998, staying through 2008. Reuben Gant spent six seasons as a rarely utilized tight end for the Bills in the late 1970s. Art Baker led the Bills in rushing in 1961, but was out of work less than a year later. Mikael Andersson (1984) never did show much of a scoring touch in Buffalo, but was good enough as a fourth line forward to play in the NHL through 2000. Jamie Batley (1995) was a Bandit in ’95 and ’99. He’s better known as a coach of several NLL teams. Maddie Elia was drafted in 2016 by the Beauts; she had grown up in Lewiston and played at Nichols High School. In 2018-19, Elia led the National Women’s Hockey League in goals and was named the league’s MVP.
He got away: Joe Walters (2006) never played with the Bandits. However, he’s remembered for the eight years he played in Rochester.
He got away, sort of: Brad Self was drafted by the Sabres in 1999 and by the Bandits in 2001. Brad stuck to lacrosse, joining Ottawa in 2003. He spent five seasons in Rochester before he was traded to Buffalo before the 2017 season. Family matters forced him to request a trade to Colorado in midseason of 2017, and he’s now the GM of the Mammoth.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)