The Buffalo Bills will retire Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith’s No. 78 at their home opener this season, the team announced Wednesday.
Smith becomes just the second player in franchise history to have his number retired, joining quarterback Jim Kelly.
Smith was the anchor of a Bills defense that helped the team appear in four straight Super Bowls in the the 1990s. He earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1990 and 1996, while also being named to the Pro Bowl 11 times and First Team All-Pro eight times.
Over his 19 year NFL career, 15 of which were with the Bills, Smith racked up a league-record 200 sacks.
“Bruce Smith was 100 percent football player,” said Kelly. “He was one of those guys when people talk about being the best, ‘I want to be the best. I want to do this. I want to do that.’ Bruce Smith was all about wanting to be the best possible football player he could be. He wanted to be the best that ever played, and pretty much, as I look at it, even though he was a teammate of mine, I think he definitely is one of the best defensive ends ever to play the game.”
Smith was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.