The Buffalo Bills had two very good running backs in the early 1970s. One went on to fame, fortune, and eventually infamy. You may have heard of O.J. Simpson. His partner in the Bills' backfield, Jim Braxton, was overshadowed then but could play too.
Braxton played running back and tight end during a fine career at West Virginia, and he even did some kicking for the Mountaineers. That all got the attention of the Bills, who drafted him in the third round in 1971.
Shortly after Braxton's arrival, Simpson's career took off. That wasn't a coincidence. Braxton was an excellent blocker who could offer a second running threat out of the backfield when needed. He ran for 494 yards in 1973, when Simpson broke 2,000 yards.
Braxton stayed in the fullback spot for the Bills through 1978, when he moved on to the Miami Dolphins in midseason. Braxton finished with almost 3,000 yards rushing in his career.
He died of cancer in Buffalo in 1986. He was 37 years old.
-- Budd Bailey
Sports Ink blog at buffalonews.com/blogs