"In assessing the football picture in Buffalo, there are three questions which must be considered: Will be city build the much-needed domed stadium and save the Bills from a move to the West? Was the Bills' 1-12-1 record last year the worst disaster in the city's history? Will O.J. Simpson show up and save the day for everybody?
Actually, Simpson alone would probably bring happy solutions to the first two problems and leave any questions about himself to be answered during the course of the new season. But Simpson in a Buffalo uniform does not spell instant title. Even at Southern Cal, it was shown that he needed the men blocking in front of him as much as they needed him. And he's in a rougher league now than anything he ever experienced in the Pacific Eight Conference.
More even than blocking, Simpson, and for that matter the Bills, will need the quarterbacking they didn't have last season, when all a man had to do to get on the disabled list was to go in for a few plays at quarterback. Jack Kemp and Tom Flores, most notably, were the hardest hit; Kemp missed the entire season with what is euphemistically referred to as a training camp knee injury, while Flores got into part of one game and then underwent shoulder surgery. Both are healthy again, and Kemp is expected to resume command of the attack, with Flores as his deputy. If another calamity strikes this department this season, look for people like Kay Stephenson, Dan Darragh and Benny Russell to come in again.
Assuming there is an O.J. Simpson, he will line up in the first backfield and attempt to show why he is worth so much money. It would be hard to conceive of him not busting loose for a few long gainers and climbing quickly into the super status Joe Namath achieved in his rookie year. The identity of his running mate will determined in the training camp battle among heavy-legged Bob Cappadonna, who had the job at the end of last season, Ben Gregory, who might have held on to it if not felled by an injury, and Bill Enyart, the big All-America fullback from Oregon State. The Bills probably have nothing to lose and everything to gain in letting Enyart win the job; he's big and quick, and probably tailor-made to run interference for Simpson. Little Max Anderson, who was the starter at halfback last season, will now be released for full time duty with the special teams (lucky fellow). Write in Gary McDermott as another backup runner.
There's the possibility of an improved passing game this year, following the fine rookie performance of flanker Haven Moses in 1968. The kid finished eleventh in the league in receiving with 42 catches for 633 yards, and looks like a real comer. Richard Trapp, who played well after Elbert Dubenion retired early last season, is a strong candidate for split end, but he'll have to fight for it with Bobby Crockett, who has his speed back after missing a year through injury. Paul Costa at tight end is sound again after ankle surgery. The spares are Monte Ledbetter and Ed Rutkowski at flanker, and Billy Masters at tight end.
For the second year in a row, the Bills' offensive line is coming back nursing wounds from the previous season. If all hands stay healthy, they should do an adequate job of blocking. The frontliners are Stew Barber and Dick Cunningham at tackle, Billy Shaw and Joe O'Donnell at guard, and Al Bemiller at center. If Howard Kindig can successfully make the switch from defense to center, it will free Bemiller for duty at either guard or tackle. Other reserves are tackle Wayne DeSutter and Dick Hudson, and guards George Flint, Bob Kalsu and Bob Kirk, the latter a sleeper from Indiana.
An echo of Buffalo's glory years can still be perceived on the defensive line, which now has Tom Day back after a brief sojourn in San Diego. Day holds down right end, while Ron McDole is the left end, with Tom Sestak and Jim Dunaway at the tackles. There's good depth behind them, with Julian Numamaker, Bill Wilkerson and Bob Tatarek among the vets, and rookies Ben Mayes, Waddey Harvey and Leon Lovelace.
The linebackers will be operating near top efficiency with Mike Stratton, Harry Jacobs and Paul Guidry returning as regulars, though Jacobs is being sorely pressed now by Marty Schottenheimer. Guidry had a fine break-in year as a replacement for the retired Tom Tracey. Paul Maguire and Ed Chandler are the holdovers from last year, and Wayne Lineberry is the lone draftee.
Perhaps the least of Buffalo's worries will come from the defensive backfield; there is a hustling crew back there, consisting of Booker Edgerson and Butch Byrd at the corners, and Tom Janik and George Saimes at the safeties. The best of the reserves are Hagood Clarke, Jerome Lawson and John Pitts, who filled in for the injured Janik last year. The outstanding rookies are Bubba Thornton and Steve Auerbach."
-Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1969