First and foremost, I’d like to thank Kevin Connors for joining me as I dust off 12 Questions with the 12th Man. Most will recognize Kevin from his job as anchor of SportsCenter, but I’ve gotten to know him on Twitter as a diehard Buffalo Bills fan.
Connors has very insightful opinions on the Bills, both current and past, and I know that all Bills fans will enjoy this interview!
1. You grew up in Rockville Centre, NY. How did you become a Bills fan?
Kevin Connors: I have my Dad to thank. Or blame. Either way, he grew up in central New York (Ilion, NY) and imparted his love of the Bills onto me.
As a native Long Islander, I lived in enemy territory –between Jets fans and Giants fans. I can remember writing book reports in elementary school about O.J. Simpson – and guaranteeing victory in Super Bowl XXV to all my high school friends.
Needless to say, my life as a Bills fan has not always been easy.
2. Who are your top five, all-time favorite Buffalo Bills?
5. Marv Levy – I know he’s a coach – but good Lord, could we ever use another Marv!
4. Doug Flutie – Has any Bill ever overachieved like Flutie? Why we didn’t ride that wave longer, I don’t know? An unopened box of Flutie Flakes sits on a shelf, over my desk, to this day. I have issues.
3. Thurman Thomas – should have been MVP of Super Bowl XXV, despite the loss. Man do I miss watching #34.
2. Jim Kelly – I still own a Kelly jersey. Still wear it. People often remark “sweet throwback!” I answer, “I’ve actually had this since his playing days.”
I’m getting old.
1. Bruce Smith – the best pass rusher I’ve ever seen. Top 5 defensive players of all-time. Consistently dominating. Can’t ask for any more than that.
3. Staying on the topic of former Buffalo Bills, will Andre Reed make the 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame?
Connors: I doubt it. And I don’t understand why? How many ballots did it take before Art Monk made the Hall of Fame – and when he retired, he was the all-time receptions leader!!
Reed was the best possession receiver of his generation. 7 Pro Bowls, the 8th best yards-per-reception percentage in NFL history and he played on one of the truly revolutionary, dominant offenses of his era. What more do voters want?
4. Steve Tasker always gets to the same point in the Hall of Fame balloting. Is he another Ray Guy, in that voters don’t truly appreciate all that he did for special teams?
Connors: I loved Tasker as a player and don’t know if any special teamer before or after has ever done it better. But I can’t get as passionate about his cause as I can with Andre Reed. It’s just much tougher to quantify what Tasker did. In a way, it’s like arguing if a set-up man should make the Baseball Hall of Fame? I’m sure we could make a case – but there are probably a lot more position players who’s cases should be heard first.
5. Looking at the needs on the Bills roster, who is one free agent the Bills should attempt to sign?
Connors: Can I only choose one?
I think we have to address quarterback. The problem is, I’m not certain there’s a surefire answer out there. If Alex Smith is an option, I’d rather us make a push for him than, say, Michael Vick.
I also need someone to explain to me how we hire a new Defensive Coordinator – to work with a totally revamped defense – and we get worse?
6. Speaking of free agency, the Bills have Andy Levitre and Jairus Byrd as impending FA’s. If you could only re-sign one of these players, who would you select and why?
Connors: Byrd. We need playmakers. I know Levitre is an anchor on that line, but Byrd is an impact player. Those guys don’t grow on trees in the NFL. If we want young players like Stephon Gilmore and Aaron Williams to get better, we have to keep guys like Byrd. How many more good young DB’s can we draft – then lose? (Whitner, Clements, Winfield etc.)
7. In your opinion, is Stevie Johnson a true number one receiver?
Connors: If we’re comparing him to Calvin Johnson – no. If we’re comparing him to Cecil Shorts – sure! I think it’s still a little hard to evaluate Stevie, but he’s produced. Three straight 1,000 yard seasons (assuming he gets there over the next two games) and, theoretically, he’s still coming into his own as a young WR. I think we needed to lock him up.
8. Mario Williams currently sits at 10.5 sacks on the season. How many sacks does he end with?
Connors: 12? We’ll need another year to evaluate his true impact on the team, but signing him last off-season was crucial. Might be nice if he recruited some players this off-season!
9. C.J. Spiller has been greatly misused by the Bills coaching staff in terms of carries, but he is clearly a dynamic RB. What former NFL RB do you think Spiller compares to most?
Connors: Tough one. Maybe a young Marshall Faulk? A multi-threat RB with just incredible explosiveness. He’s an offensive player the Bills have not had in a long, long time.
10. Howard Simon of WGR550 recently asked fans who they’d rather bring back for 2013, Chan Gailey or Ryan Fitzpatrick. Who would you choose in this scenario?
Connors: Here’s how I always answer questions like that: who are we bringing in as their replacements? Firing coaches or dumping players just for the sake of doing it rarely solves problems if you’re not upgrading at their positions. Do I think Fitzpatrick is the answer at QB? He sure hasn’t shown it yet. Do I think Gailey is the answer as head coach? He sure hasn’t shown it yet. But turning over coaching staffs every 3-4 years is not the answer either.
11. If Michael Vick becomes a FA should the Buffalo Bills be interested in bringing him in?
Connors: No. No thanks.
12. Last, make a very early prediction… With the Buffalo Bills first pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the team selects ______________.
Connors: Manti Te’o. We’ve committed to making that defense better, why stop now. Plus this team needs players who know how to win!!
Once again, thank you to Kevin Connors for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk Buffalo Bills football! You can follow Kevin on Twitter @kevconnorsespn.
The post ESPN’s Kevin Connors Answers 12 Questions for the 12th Man! appeared first on Queen City Sports.