Four players have been taken first overall in the National Football League draft by the Bills. Tom Cousineau is the one that never played a down in a Buffalo uniform.
Cousineau was born and raised in Ohio, and attended Ohio State University. There he became an All-American linebacker under coach Woody Hayes, and was the most valuable player of the Orange Bowl. The pro scouts liked him a lot.
The Bills had the first pick in 1979 due to a trade with San Francisco involving O.J. Simpson, another of the first overall choices. Buffalo grabbed Cousineau as part of the rebuilding plan of Chuck Knox. But Cousineau got away, choosing instead to sign with Montreal of the Canadian Football League. The Alouettes offered twice as much money as the Bills did originally.
Cousineau headed north of the border through 1981, and decided he wanted to try his luck in the NFL. The Bills swapped his rights to the Cleveland Browns for a first-round choice, which was used to select Jim Kelly eventually.
Cousineau led Cleveland in tackles three times but never made the Pro Bowl. Then he landed in San Francisco as a backup, retiring in 1987.
-- Budd Bailey
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