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'Forgotten Bill' joins teammates in Hall

Many of his teammates from the Bills championship teams of 1964 and '65 are either on the Bills' Wall of Fame or the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame or both. Not Harry Jacobs.

Not until Wednesday.

The cerebral middle linebacker of Buffalo's two American Football League championship teams finally received his due when he was named to the Hall's Class of 2012 where he will join past teammates Jack Kemp, Billy Shaw, Tom Sestak, Mike Stratton, Cookie Gilchrist, Elbert Dubenion, Butch Byrd, Booker Edgerson, George Saimes and Paul Maguire as well as coach Lou Saban, trainer Ed Abramoski and owner Ralph Wilson.

Jacobs was the overlooked Bill. The forgotten Bill, even though he was right there in our midst all these years, living in the same home in the Village of Hamburg since 1966, raising his family there and running a family business which has been taken over by his son, David, but where he still works fulltime. Jacobs, now 75, holds no bitterness.

"It doesn't make any difference how recognized I get because He recognizes me," said Jacobs, a man of religious conviction.

As the middle linebacker between the late John Tracey and Mike Stratton on the AFL championship teams, Jacobs was a steady, cerebral man in the middle, who made all the defensive calls and occasionally adjusted what was sent in from the sidelines.

"My job was to pull them together," Jacobs said of his interaction with his more-celebrated teammates. "Two years ago at one of the Bills Alumni gatherings, Mike Stratton and George Saimes thanked me for putting them in the right place at the right time. Every time. That really meant a lot to me.

"The rest of it doesn't make any difference. We were a team then and we still are a team."

The Class of 2012 included 10 individuals plus four in the Legends who will be honored posthumously at the Hall of Fame dinner. The event will be held at the Buffalo Hyatt Regency at a date to be determined in the fall.

The class: Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret, former St. Bonaventure basketball star George Carter, golfer Kim Kaul, retired wrestling coach Eric Knuutila, tennis pro Todd Miller, Nichols hockey coach Frank Sacheli, St. Joe's coach and administrator Joe Wolf and college and NFL standouts Craig and Ron Wolfley.

Legends to be honored are: University at Buffalo softball coach and administrator Nan Harvey; major league shortstop Stan Rojek; catcher Wally Schang, a native of South Wales who had a 19-year big league career, and boxer Lou Scozza, a top light-heavyweight from 1925-34.

Speaking on behalf of the class, Jeanneret mentioned something he had read on the Internet:

"This," he said "probably belongs on somebody's desk: 'I can only please one person today. Today is not your day and tomorrow is not looking that good either.'

"That's the polar opposite of what this is all about here.

"This is our day."

Amateur Sports Development Fund grant recipients also were announced.

They are: Kaitlyn Hawayek, Mary Queen of Angels School; Town of Aurora Parks and Recreation; Annunciation School of Buffalo; WNY Special Hockey Association; Lockport Rage football team; Williamsville East Boosters and Jordan Bauth.

email: mnorthrop@buffnews.com