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Terry Bledsoe dies, Bills GM in the ’80s

Terry Bledsoe, who was general manager of the Buffalo Bills, for two years in the 1980s, died on Dec. 12 in Providence, R.I. after a long illness. He was 81.

A Chicago native who was raised in Iowa, Bledsoe was a long-time sportswriter and columnist for the Milwaukee Journal. His beats included the Vince Lombardi era Green Bay Packers. Through contacts he made in the NFL he joined the league in 1973 as public relations director of the NFL Management Council. That led him to five years as assistant general manager of the New York Giants. He joined the Bills in 1984. In 1985 when the club drafted Bruce Smith, Andre Reed and Frank Reich part of the foundation for the Super Bowl teams of the 1990s.

Bledsoe became ill in 1985 and Bill Polian, the teams’s pro personnel director, was assigned to handle the contract negotiations with Smith, the No. 1 pick, and sign him for Buffalo and not the rival United States Football League. Polian succeeded.

In December of 1985, after a second 2-14 season, Bledsoe was fired by owner Ralph. C. Wilson Jr.. Polian, who was not a well-known member of the organization at the time, was appointed to succeed him. Bledsoe closed out his career as an executive with the Arizona Cardinals, then retired in the Phoenix area.

Bledsoe is survived by his wife of 59 years, Shirley, six children and 13 grandchildren.

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