Wayne Patrick, the blocking fullback in O.J. Simpson's rookie season with the Buffalo Bills, died Tuesday in his Amherst home after a long battle with kidney disease and other health problems. He was 63.
Mr. Patrick is perhaps best remembered as the fullback who lost his starting job to the late Jim Braxton in 1972 and then was traded to New England in one of coach Lou Saban's most productive transactions, also bringing center Mike Montler and linebacker Jim Cheyunski to Buffalo.
As a Bill, Mr. Patrick played in 53 games over five seasons, gained 1,084 yards and caught 96 passes. He had 11 career touchdowns -- five rushing and six on pass receptions.
He was known as a solid, dependable player, the same reputation he earned in his long career as a general supervisor in manufacturing at Harrison Radiator (now Delphi Thermal) in Lockport. He was a "hardworking, low-key, very steady guy," said former Bills tight end Charley Ferguson, who also was Mr. Patrick's supervisor at the plant.
Mr. Patrick retired from the company in 2004.
Two weeks ago, the Buffalo Bills Alumni Association held a benefit at Ilio DiPaolo's Restaurant in Blasdell to help defray his medical expenses. A majority of the 300 or so in attendance were Mr. Patrick's co-workers from the radiator plant.
"It was a tremendous turnout between the hourly work force that used to work for him and the salary work force," said Ferguson, a Harrison retiree. "Wayne was well-liked. He got along with everybody. He was the kind of guy that didn't talk very much, but he smiled a lot. He was a guy you wanted as a friend. When things got tough, Wayne knew how to make that adjustment and get tough."
A native of Gainesville, Fla., where graduated from Lincoln High School, Mr. Patrick played football at the University of Louisville, leading the Cardinals in rushing two seasons and scoring 10 touchdowns in 1967.
He was drafted by the expansion Cincinnati team in 1968 but was picked up by the Bills after he was released by the Bengals.
After he joined the Bills, Mr. Patrick and his wife, Mary, settled in Amherst, where they lived until his death.
Besides his wife, he is survived by two sons, Wayne Jr. and Joel; two daughters, Melissa and Jayda; and three brothers, Clifford, Walter and Michael.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in Amherst Baptist Church, 100 Willow Ridge Drive.