Welcome back once more Buffalo history buffs, as we take another whack at the Bills’ Wall of Fame, and all the names which adorn it. Today, we take on the tale of the first true CB1 that this team ever saw. Booker Edgerson was a native of Baxter County in Arkansas, but his story began in earnest in Rock Island, Illinois. It was there that Booker found himself to be a natural athlete.
Determined to stay close to home and his family, Edgerson declined offers from several Division I schools, electing to attend Western Illinois University as a four-year letterman. He played football and baseball and participated in wrestling and track and field as well. This wide range of sports helped to make Booker a terror on the football field. He credits wrestling for his ability to tackle in the open field and both the long jump and sprinting for his coverage technique.
His dominance in the program was a big reason for WIU’s only two consecutive undefeated seasons (1959 and 1960). As a free agent prospect in 1961, he’d been turned down by the Bears’ George Halas due to his “small frame”, and that was the beginning and end of his NFL tenure. At the conclusion of his graduating year, his football coach (and fellow Bills Wall of Famer) Lou Saban signed a pro contract to lead the AFL’s Buffalo Bills, and Edgerson saw an opportunity for greatness.
Tagging along at Saban’s request, the Buffalo Bills signed the undrafted Edgerson as a free agent in 1962 and never looked back. He went on to feature on the AFL’s 1962 All-Rookie Team with a career-high 6 INTs, picking off HoF QB George Blanda twice in his first-ever game as a pro. His man coverage was some of the best in the AFL and his ability to lock down some of the best talents in a league flush with talented, future HoF WRs was vital to our dominant defense. It was he who made our secondary as difficult to throw at as it was. He locked up the opposition consistently in the AFL Championships in 1964 and 1965, doing his part to take both trophies home. He was declared an AFL All-Star in 1965 and Second-Team All-AFL in 1969.
The Quiet Life
At the end of that season, the Bills traded his rights to the Denver Broncos. He would only play six more games before a knee injury cut his career “short”. His eight seasons as a defensive back was a long career, even by today’s standards.
Booker Edgerson retired back to Buffalo at the conclusion of his career, insisting on giving back to the community he came to love over the course of his time on the field. He became heavily involved in charity work, taking home the 1993 Ralph C. Wilson Award. Currently, he continues to work for causes he believes in. He was inducted into the Wall of Fame in 2010.
For more work like this, follow me as, together, we map the Wall of Fame and learn more about every legend whose name lies upon these hallowed halls.
|O.J. Simpson (1980)||Jack Kemp (1984)||Patrick J. McGroder (1985)||Tom Sestak (1987)||Billy Shaw (1988)|
|Ralph C. Wilson Jr. (1989)||The 12th Man (1992)||Elbert Dubenion (1993)||Mike Stratton (1994)||Joe Ferguson (1995)|
|Marv Levy (1996)||Joe DeLamielleure (1997)||Robert James (1998)||Edward Abramoski (1999)||Bob Kalsu (2000)|
|George Saimes (2000)||Jim Kelly (2001)||Fred Smerlas (2001)||Kent Hull (2002)||Darryl Talley (2003)|
|Jim Ritcher (2004)||Thurman Thomas (2005)||Andre Reed (2006)||Steve Tasker (2007)||Bruce Smith (2008)|
|Booker Edgerson (2010)||Phil Hansen (2011)||Bill Polian (2012)||Van Miller (2014)||Lou Saban (2015)|
|Cookie Gilchrist (2017)||Reserved For|
The Golden Era