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Distinguished digits: Bills to retire Bruce Smith's No. 78

Nobody ever again will wear Bruce Smith's No. 78 for the Buffalo Bills.

While that honor was understood since Smith's last Bills game 17 years ago, the Bills officially will retire his jersey at their Sept. 15 home opener against the New York Jets.

The Bills will announce plans for the event this morning.

The Bills previously retired Jim Kelly's No. 12 and are expected to retire Thurman Thomas' No. 34 next season.

O.J. Simpson's No. 32 has been out of circulation since the Bills traded him in 1978, but it never has been retired officially.

Smith is an undisputed legend who displayed his greatness soon after the Bills drafted him first overall out of Virginia Tech in 1985.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame welcomed Smith in 2009, three years after his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. He was voted Defensive Player of the Year twice. He was an eight-time All-Pro and made 11 Pro Bowls.

Despite playing most of his career as a 3-4 defensive end, Smith recorded 200 sacks, more than any other player after the NFL recognized the statistic in 1982. He had 13 seasons with double-digit sacks, an NFL record. He forced 43 fumbles and recovered 15.

More on Bruce Smith

Bruce Smith's No. 78 to be retired by the Bills: 'Humbled beyond words' by Tyler Dunne

Bills president Russ Brandon says: You can make the case Bills DE Bruce Smith is the best ever

Marv Levy remembers Bruce Smith's turnaround: 'He was overweight, self-indulgent, didn't have great practice habits'

Tim Graham: Bills shouldn't be shy about unretiring No. 32

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