Feb. 11, 2000 – If Western New York football fans needed a sign that the Nineties were over, they got it on this date.
The Bills, facing salary cap problems, released Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed and Bruce Smith ... all at once. Jerry Sullivan of The News wrote this reaction to the moves:
Late in the regular season, when it was unraveling for him, Andre Reed ran into a group of reporters after a Bills home game and unleashed all of the anger and frustration that had been building inside him. At one point, he said the people in this town had never fully appreciated the stars who had been in their midst for well over a decade.
"You'll never see players like Bruce, Thurman and me again." Reed shouted. "Never!" He was right, of course. Seldom has a city's sports followers been so blessed for such a long period of time. We aren't likely to see three players like Reed, Bruce Smith and Thurman Thomas together on one team at the same time, never mind for a period of a dozen seasons.
They are gone now. Suddenly, in one merciless sweep, the last three links to all four of Buffalo's Super Bowls have been removed from the roster. Years from now, fans will look back and marvel at what these three athletes accomplished.
There is no denying their greatness. Smith was one of the greatest defensive ends who ever played the game. He is second on the all-time sack list to Reggie White. Reed is second to Jerry Rice on the NFL's career receiving list. Thomas is seventh all-time in combined yards from scrimmage.