"The customary boyhood fantasies held no fascination for Joe Collier. That is, he didn't dream of running away and joining the circus, or becoming the first explorer in space. Joe's early ambition was to be a football coach, and as often happens in the storybooks, he got what he wished for.
The thought first occurred to him when he was playing football for Rock Island High back home in Illinois. It stayed with him though four years at Northwestern, where he captained the Wildcats in 1953 and was an All-Big Ten end. He was even good enough to play in a couple of postseason games, such as the Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game. But when the New York Giants drafted him and held out the offer of a pro career, Joe turned it down. The old dream had become an obsession by now, and he pursued a career in coaching.
He became an assistant at Western Illinois, where a man named Lou Saban turned up as head coach. When the AFL was formed in 1960, Saban went to Boston and Collier accompanied him, joining the coaching staff as an assistant. After Saban moved to Buffalo, Joe joined him as defensive coach. It was Joe who built those rock-hard Buffalo defenses which enabled the Bills to win back-to-back AFL championships in 1964 and '65.
In 1966, Collier succeeded Saban - a move hailed by the Bills' players themselves - and he won an Eastern Division crown. Last year, the Bills plummeted to a 4-10 record, but Collier kept his cool composure.
A low-key type, anyway, he says, 'I have confidence in our players and they know I won't panic if things go wrong, so I don't see much point in being emotional. Besides, it's just not me.'"
-Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1968