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This Day in Bills History, Nov. 23: Meet the Buffalo Bills

Nov. 23, 1959 – The Buffalo Bills officially went into the football business on this day, as they acquired the rights to some players in the American Football League's first college draft.

The team took Richie Lucas of Penn State, a quarterback. Lucas finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting that year, and would later go on to the College Football Hall of Fame.

But while he signed with the Bills, his career in Buffalo was a short one. He only played for the Bills in 1960 and 1961, and had a quarterback rating of under 50 in losing three out of four starts.

Part of that problem was that he hurt his ankle in his rookie year, and never caught up. Besides, he was a running quarterback when the pro game didn't use its passers that way. Lucas did return a fumble for a touchdown while playing defense in 1961. Lucas was off to Denver after two years, but never played there.

The Bills took 32 other players that day, including Willie Evans from the University of Buffalo and future Hall of Famer Larry Wilson (he went to the Cardinals). The league had another draft on Dec. 2, as the owners realized they needed a larger player pool.

Budd Bailey is a retired sports reporter and editor at The Buffalo News. He is also the author of "Today in Buffalo Sports History." Learn more about the book here.

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